12 Christmas Tree Ideas for Kids
Anyone would agree that handpicking and decorating the Christmas tree is an annual holiday tradition that families enjoy most. Watch a child's eyes light up as she unpacks an ornament she has made herself and hangs it on the tree and you'll quickly agree that there are few happier moments all year.
Martha herself brings home an extra tree just for the kids to enjoy—pictured here is the tree our founder created to stimulate the curiosity of her toddler grandchildren, Jude and Truman. She used a playful palette of fresh, kid-friendly colors. The crisp graphics of homemade alphabet flashcard ornaments play off the shapes and textures of letter cookies that sparkle with colorful sanding sugar. (You can also use the flash cards as personalized gift tags or spell out names with cookies.) The sides of plain wooden blocks were painted in a range of contrasting colors and made into simple, Montessori-inspired ornaments. Silvertip firs (like the one pictured here) tend to be symmetrical and have plenty of space between branches to hang large ornaments. This kind of tree is fairly lightweight; here, it's anchored in a bucket filled with rocks and water, which is placed inside a wooden crate painted to match the ornaments. She rounded out the look with classic metallic ball ornaments—shatterproof, so they're safe around the kids.
Imagine a tree covered entirely in your child's handiwork. When all the pieces are made of the same materials, the result is both beautiful and sentimental. With the right amount of snipping, twisting, knotting, and gluing, ordinary household items can be transformed into delightfully clever ornaments and instant keepsakes. Ornament-making is a craft project that will keep kids busy for hours—a great way to spend a snowy day. We've festooned our trees with ingenuity, using yarn, cotton balls, tinfoil, and office supplies. Follow along for even more inspiration from our founder and editors as we recount our very best Christmas tree ideas for kids.
Barnyard Christmas Tree
These felt animals are so adorable, you and your kids will be tempted to make a whole stampede for your tree. Begin by printing this template, then cut out two versions of each template; one following the outline and the other omitting the black details (use fine-tip scissors for the interior cutouts). On top of light-colored felt, such as cream or eggshell, pin the outline template, and trace it with a disappearing-ink pen. Remove the template, and cut it out. On a colored piece of felt, pin and trace the detailed template twice. Cut out: Use fine-tip scissors for interior cutouts and a Japanese hole punch to create the eyes and the hole for hanging.
Woodland Christmas Tree
At Martha's Bedford home, a few motifs come together on this tree for Jude, with forest animals, mushrooms, and bristle ornaments. The felt ornaments mix the natural and the fantastical, with silhouettes of bears carrying presents or proffering candy canes. There's a lot of luscious texture, too, since details such as toadstool caps, bobtails, and undercoats are made from wool roving.
Shop Now: Anthropologie Felted Mushroom Ornament in Red, $5 each, anthropologie.com. Oriental Trading Company Die Cut Moose & Deer Christmas Ornaments, $10, orientaltrading.com. Ditz Designs Black Bear Standing Stuffed Animal, $399, wildlifewonders.com.
Rustic Nutty Christmas Tree
A living Christmas tree offers so much more than a mound of mulch at the end of the season. But how to cover its not-so-pretty pot during its indoor tour of duty? Have your kids round up a squirrel's cache of nuts or acorns, and pour them on. The nuts' simple beauty and warm palette complement a tree done up in woody neutrals.
Gingerbread House Christmas Tree
Is there any child who can resist the Christmas scent of warm-from-the-oven gingerbread? An entire village of gingerbread houses adorns this tree, creating tempting trimmings. The windows and doors have been crafted from dough that is different from the façade's— the lighter one is sweetened with honey, the darker with molasses—to provide contrast. Invite your whole family to decorate the ornaments and you’ll find that suddenly everyone wants to be an architect.
Elf on the Shelf Christmas Tree
The elf’s presence (and it's daily debut from a new spot of the house) serves as a gentle reminder to small children to stay on Santa’s nice list in the days leading up to Christmas. And where is that elf hiding this year? Your Christmas tree! Here's a new twist on the holiday tradition that is sure to surprise and delight the whole family. Re-envision your Christmas tree as a larger-than-life advent calendar, starring your adopted scout elf. Every morning, the elf moves to a new numbered ornament (and a day closer to December 25) only to be found in a fun new set of shenanigans.
Clay Ornaments Christmas Tree
Designer Jenni Kayne hosted a holiday crafting retreat for her family to enjoy in Lake Tahoe. While there, the family settled on an "earthy but still festive" look for this five-foot tree, and Kayne's little ones—her son, Tanner, 7, and her daughter, Ripley, 4—crafted ornaments to adorn it. Yarn and bakers' twine turned pinecones and bright-white dough into ornaments. Inspired by twigs in vases she’d seen online, Kayne used a bell jar as a giant tree stand.
Shop Now: Pottery Barn Shouldered Clear Glass Vase, $59, potterybarn.com. Diamond Woodcomua Embossing Rolling Pins, $23 for 3, etsy.com. Williams-Sonoma Holiday Cookie Cutters, $9 for 4, williams-sonoma.com. Jeffrey Large Pine Cones, $60 for 20, drieddecor.com.
Paper Snowflake Christmas Tree
This tree twinkles with a dusting of paper snowflakes. Help kids iron their cut-out designs flat to smooth out the folds. Just hang with a paper clip bent open to form an "S." The beauty of paper snowflakes is that, even with slight imperfections, when they are massed together, they're breathtaking to behold.
Cotton Ball Christmas Tree
With a few bags of cotton balls, you can blanket a tree with the softest snow. Start by threading a needle with fifteen inches of fishing line and sew through two or three cotton balls, leaving gaps between (dab white glue next to each ball so it won't slide); make a loop for hanging. It's optional, but you can also fill a sieve with cornstarch to dust the tree's branches and add basting for a skirt for a full winter wonderland look.
Yarn Christmas Tree
Pom-poms, tassels, and snowflakes made of vibrant yarn create a cozy, crafty theme for a tree. Form fluffy baubles in any color under the sun with a pom-pom maker (at crafts stores). For garlands, just knot lengths of yarn. The yarn star, a classic camp craft, stands watch at the top. A sewing basket is a fitting container (the tree sits in a separate pot surrounded by gravel); the gifts are wound with yarn.
Foil Christmas Tree
This tree gets its shimmer from aluminum foil. Sheets of foil are twisted and scrunched into stars, balls, and canes, all hung with yarn. Turn cupcake liners inside out; stack, and then glue back-to-back; tie on yarn to hang. Poke string lights through small liners for a radiant glow. More liners decorate a foil-covered cardboard star (with a toilet-paper tube back). A silver mouse sits atop shining gifts.
Office Supply Christmas Tree
Office-supply stores have all the trimmings for a tree that belies its workaday origins. Key tags decorated with stickers, ornaments cut from file folders, and paper-clip chains dangle from the branches. A bubble-packaging tree skirt and presents dressed up in graph paper, stickers, and rubber bands circle the base.