Get into the holiday spirit with this DIY toddler Christmas tree! Using real plants, this sensory activity works fine motor skills and makes the perfect holiday decor.
Are you team real tree or fake tree? I prefer fake but Ry definitely prefers real. Our holiday season is going to be crazy busy, so I was already debating putting up a tree this year. I had decided on no, when I noticed Aaliyah pointing out Santa, presents and Christmas trees at the store. Feeling a little more motivated by her holiday cheer, I decided we at the very least should have a mini tree.
If you follow us on Instagram, you’ve probably seen a few stories of us helping my grandma at our local historical house. She volunteers here and is basically the curator, and we help her clean and change out exhibits- Aaliyah especially loves dusting! My grandma is actually a Christmas elf, with 7 trees going up every year at her house AND holiday decorating the Spanne House. Each year she picks juniper, redwood, and magnolia to decorate the house and give it an extra touch of Victorian flair. It’s basically a Victorian winter wonderland. After helping her one day I had an urge to take a giant bag of the leftover nature decorations, and from there a ton of Christmas nature crafts were born! We started with this DIY toddler tree and are so excited to show you this and the rest!
- Floral foam cone
- Juniper branches
- Redwood branches
- Fake snow or batting
- Hot glue gun
- Small ornaments
- Garden gloves (optional)
I had originally planned to just do the toddler Christmas tree with juniper leaves because the branches are much smaller, but really wanted the smell of the redwood! We started this project and quickly learned the juniper branches are VERY pokey, so please be careful and have your little one wear gloves!
Creating Our Toddler Christmas Tree
The steps for this are SO simple, but there are tons of aspects that can make this a great overall learning activity. Lay out the two types of branches and have your toddler study them. What is different? How do they smell? How do they feel?(Watch those juniper thorns!) Introduce simple math concepts by sorting by type and then by length, which are longer and shorter?
Once you have your branches sorted, start at the base of the cone and push your longer branches into the foam. You don’t want to go all the way through, just enough for the branch to stick. Work your way up and around the cone, we alternated the two branch types to make it look more full!
When we were satisfied with the base, I had her help me cut smaller pieces. This is a great way to work on those cutting skills! I then took the small pieces and using a hot glue gun assembled the top of the tree to give it more of a pointed look. The foam was too thin to make so many small branches stay! After the glue dried, she helped to cut the branches and trim the tree until it had a nice shape.
Adding Ornaments to Our Toddler Christmas Tree
These ornaments were a thrifted treasure, and are the perfect size and weight for this mini tree. You could make your own ornaments using felt or bows, even the small bulb ornaments would work. I wouldn’t recommend anything too heavy though!
Hanging ornaments is a great fine motor skill activity! Your toddler will need full concentration as they take the string loops and thread the branches through. She loves talking about what each ornament was and carefully planning out where to put each ornament.
Because these were thrifted, some had broken strings. I had used the gold plate (remember it from our process art?!), but we had a few cute ornaments that we couldn’t hang in the tree. I found some batting in my sewing stash, and we carefully tore pieces and decorated the base of the tree with our “snow.” The stringless ornaments look so cute sitting around the edge of the plate! It’s been almost two weeks since the branches have been cut and the tree still looks amazing.
I love that this was such a complete sensory experience. The toddler Christmas tree smells just like a real full size tree! We incorporated so many skills into such an easy activity. Don’t you love learning through play?