Today I am posting about something other than fibular hemimelia. ::gasp!::
There’s a lot of joking around the Internet this time of year about babies/toddlers and Christmas trees. Most of the solutions are fairly bleak. You can protect the tree with baby gates or try to block it with furniture. You can leave the bottom half unadorned, or decorate with baby toys, or do away with the tree in favor of ornament stands placed out of reach. My sister-in-law, a mother of four, puts the entire tree out of reach; fully bedecked, it sits atop a corner table, nestled between two couches.
Short on space, we considered several of these approaches as we worried about how we’d protect Henry, our tree, and our holiday spirits. But we’ve found another way that’s worked for us, as you can see:
It looks as if he’s pulling up on giant presents. Really, though, this is our Christmas Tree Protection Barrier. It’s worked beautifully so far, in that our tree is still standing and its bottom half is not bereft of ornaments, so I thought I would share our strategy with you.
I first got the idea for using wrapped gift boxes from Pinterest, of course. This link is the example I liked best, and it cautions against using this trick if you (like us) have a climber. We also have a chewer–no cardboard box or piece of paper is safe here–so I actually discarded this idea for a while. It turned out to be the best start to a solution I found, though, so I made it work for us. Here’s how.
First, we needed boxes. I went to Home Depot and found their heavy duty moving boxes were quite a bit sturdier than regular cardboard boxes. The large and extra large sizes are tall enough so that Henry can’t get onto them (for H, this means they’re above armpit level), so I went with those. We played with them for a few days to be sure they were up to a holiday season of use. Next, we needed sturdy wrapping paper. After Christmas last year, Michael and I bought a few rolls of super nice paper from The Container Store. The paper is heavy, much thicker than usual gift wrap, and has a sort of glazed or coated feeling about it. To finish up, I needed packing tape to build the boxes. I got the heavy duty kind from Scotch and used that for wrapping, too. And, since both Henry and our cat will be messing with these boxes for a while, they also needed some weight to them. As it so happens, I have a couple shelves of books around. All set.
I built a test box and left it in the living room for a few days before I put up the tree. We had to be sure our plan would work…and it did! Henry managed to gnaw through the paper along the top edges of the box, so I covered that area with a strip of packing tape. I also added a few more books to the box to give it more weight. Once we were satisfied, we went to buy more wrapping paper (metallic thus time, which also works well) and built two more barrier boxes. I put packing tape on all the chewing edges.
I also custom built the extra large box so that it wouldn’t jut into the living room quite so much and we could still have some variation in the boxes. Finally, each box has about twenty pounds of books in the bottom.
And this is the result! We’re pretty pleased. As a bonus, the boxes helped me keep Henry at bay while I assembled, lit, and decorated the tree.