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Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial

We put our Christmas tree up this year the day after Thanksgiving, and ever since, my son Rowan has been in awe of it….especially the ornaments.  His new favorite past-time is yanking an ornament off and trotting it across the room, arm outstretched to me or my husband with a “Looky what I have for you!” grin on his face.  It’s super cute….but also slightly irritating (not to mention unsafe).

So, I decided that it would be great for all three of us if Rowan got his own tree to play with (fun & entertaining for Little Man, and peace of mind for me and The Hubs).  I searched Pinterest for ideas (of course)….there were some cute ideas that you hang on a wall, but Rowan is pretty rambunctious and I didn’t envision those lasting very long.  Plus, he (like most toddlers) is ever-curious, so something three-dimensional would be more appealing and (hopefully) result in more playtime.  When I spotted this toddler tree from Mother’s Niche, inspiration flooded over me and I knew exactly what I was going to do for my tiny tot!

The beautiful thing about this toddler tree (besides being three-dimensional) is that the ornaments are safe and can easily be removed and reattached by a wee one.  That’s because felt sticks to flannel, so all you need are felt ornaments and a flannel tree.  I also jazzed it up some more by adding some toys that Rowan already had.  So simple, right?!

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been


Without further ado, here’s my toddler Christmas tree tutorial!

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been


The Tree’s Base: A Traffic Cone

While getting some pink spray paint at Home Depot to upcycle the frame for my niece’s recent Alice in Wonderland first birthday chalkboard poster, we also grabbed a traffic cone for this project.  They had several different sizes to choose from, but we went with the middle size that was 28″ tall like this one….it would be the perfect height for Rowan to explore and play with.

Before I ran to the fabric store to pick up my flannel, I took some quick measurements of the cone’s dimensions to help me decide on the amount of fabric I needed.  Here’s what I came up with:

  • Height: 27″ (including the base, it’s 28″, but the cone/tree itself is actually only 27″)
  • Bottom Circumference: 23.5″
  • Top Circumference: 6″
  • Base: 13″

[Pardon these pics, please.  I worked on this project on our kitchen floor….I needed room to spread out!]

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been


Covering the Traffic Cone with Flannel

Like I mentioned, felt sticks to flannel, so first things first…..I needed to make a flannel tree!

I headed to my local fabric store in search of green flannel.  Now, this was not my first trip to a fabric store; however, it was my first trip in pursuit of fabric.  (I know, cray cray.)  I’d been to one before for something simple (I think a zipper to replace one my husband busted on his motorcycle jacket), but I don’t sew (though it’s on my bucket list!), so I really had no clue what I was doing.  I might as well have been in an auto parts store….fish out of water, indeed.

I managed to find the flannel section and picked a spool (is that what they’re called?) of a shade by the name of….Christmas Green!  How serendipitous!

Then I headed over to the cutting table section area thingy and casually explained my project to the employee because I had no clue how much fabric I’d need and she was the expert.  As I was talking, she looked at me like I had four heads, but after I showed her the dimensions I needed covered, she assured me that a yard of flannel would be plenty.

So one yard of solid green flannel was purchased.

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

Soooo….now I had my fabric, but how was I going to cut it?!?  This was where the crossroads of Inspiration and Implementation met….

I asked the Oracle (a.k.a Google) how to cover a cone in fabric, and up popped a bunch of mathematical mumbo jumbo that brought back nightmares from high school geometry.

Measuring was going to be tricky, and here were my thoughts about it:


So I said “Peace out!” to my ruler and just decided to wing it.  Ha!  I MacGyvered the fabric over my cone with some painter’s tape and a chip clip (yes, I am a pro-fesh-io-nahl).

I just made it so an edge of fabric was wrapped evenly around the bottom of the cone, flush with the base, and another edge was vertical going up the cone (I secured it with a few pieces of painter’s tape).  The chip clip acted as a third hand and held the fabric up on the top while I smoothed the fabric around the cone, making sure it was a nice, snug fit.

[I am certain there has to be an easier, classier way to do this out there, but this worked for me just as well….don’t laugh too hard please!]

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

Once the cone was covered, I grabbed my stash of straight pins that were left over from making my birthday balloon wreath, and just started weaving them through both layers of fabric.

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

Once my fabric was pinned from top to bottom, the excess was cut away with some scissors….and the chip clip was returned to the junk drawer.

[Like my festive Christmas socks??] ;)

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

Okay, so my fabric was cut to size, but how was I going to finish it off?  I thought about just using my trusty ol’ hot glue gun and gluing the edges together, but I wasn’t sure how well it would hold up over the years with the changes in temperature while in storage (does anyone know if that would actually be a problem?).

So, I bit the proverbial bullet and decided I needed to get my {hand} sewing on….again.  Now, for someone who doesn’t sew, I sure seem to be hand-sewing a lot recently (Exhibit A: my little man’s Sons of Anarchy Halloween costume).

Once again, I pulled out our travel sewing kit that we bought long ago only to attach random loose buttons, and I started hand-sewing a seam just adjacent to where the straight pins resided.

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

And as you can see, not only do I use only the finest tools (remember the chip clip classiness?), but I am also an expert hand-sewer.  Just look at that seam!  Notice how even and compact those stitches are?  Oh, and that is just the straightest seam ever produced, amiright!?

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

Yeah….no.  My hand-sewing is TERRIBLE.  Ha!  I am well aware I can barely sew a straight(ish) line.  I give you full permission to laugh.  Really!  It doesn’t bother me, because once again, I’m trying not to sweat the small stuff (just check this out).  Besides, this seam is just going to get covered in mere moments, so the fact that it was fugly was a:


Adding Leaves/Branches (Whatever You Want to Call Them….)

At this point, my husband moseyed into the kitchen, and upon noticing my impeccable sewing skills, said “Ummm, I would NOT pay for that.”  Gee, thanks hon….he always says the sweetest things to me….  Then when I told him that it was just going to get covered up by leaves and you wouldn’t be able to see it, he replied with “Whaaaat??  Christmas trees don’t have LEAVES!”   *sigh….*  -__-  Fine then!  Branches….we’ll call them branches.

{On a side note, my husband and I really do have a great relationship and he is a super sweet, marshmallow of a guy….he’s just a jokester who likes to push my buttons.  He’s actually very supportive of my crafty pursuits….bad sewing and all.} :)

I grabbed my remaining flannel and started cutting out triangles.  No rhyme or reason (and certainly no measuring!).

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

For this task, I DID bust out my hot glue gun.  A small strip of glue across the top was all I needed, and I randomly plopped each leaf/branch on the tree base, working from the bottom up and around.

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

I used larger leaves/branches at the bottom and then gradually made them smaller as I worked my way up….it’s starting to come together now!

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been


Adding Hang Tabs for {Some} Ornaments

I was going to be making some ornaments out of felt (more on those in a bit!), but I also wanted to be able to incorporate some of my son’s toys in as ornaments as well.  So, I raided my ribbon stash and pulled out a roll of shiny green ribbon (which made excellent vines for my pumpkin wreath, by the way).

I cut it into little strips that were about 3″ long or so, hot-glued the ends together, then hot-glued each to the backside of a leaf/branch.  I also added some more glue to the back of these leaves/branches to help secure them and make them more stable for supporting the weight of the toys.

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

I added about ten or so hanging tabs randomly around the tree.  They also add a nice subtle glittery touch as well!

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been


Making the Felt Ornaments

Like I mentioned earlier, felt sticks to flannel, so that is what I was going to be using for the rest of my ornaments.  When I started this project, I assumed that the felt I would need included the regular sheets of felt that you find at craft stores for around a quarter per sheet, but then once it was time to make these ornaments, I suddenly started to worry….did I actually need the real fancy felt from the fabric store?!?  Oh no!

Well, good news!  Everyday craft store felt works just fine.  Thank goodness since I already had a ton of that on hand!

I also picked up a tub of foam Christmas stickers from Target when they were on sale (I just love Cartwheel!), and I pulled out the larger {cuter} ones.  Then I hot-glued them onto the felt sheets, backing and all, and cut them out with tiny edges of the felt remaining as frames.  Voila!  Instant ornaments.

[***NOTE: The felt will stick to the flannel, but it’s obviously not a super secure bond (helloooo, that’s why it’s great for tots).  For example, you’ll notice below that the two wreath stickers are different thicknesses.  The thicker one is actually a little too heavy and doesn’t stay up very long on the tree….yes, that guy is a little too heavy.  Just something to watch out for when deciding on your ornaments.]

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

{Disclaimer: I know the tub of stickers states it’s for ages 3+ and I also know my son is only 18-months-old.  He is (thankfully) growing out of the let’s-put-everything-in-our-mouth stage, plus I only used the large stickers for ornaments.  Please use discretion if you decide to use these or something similar for your child, and always ensure there is adult supervision.  ….PSA over!}


The Tree Skirt

To cover the base of the cone, I needed to make a tree skirt of some sort.  I first thought about making a pretty, round, ruffled, red and white striped one that would be beautiful, but I scrapped that idea when I realized that would take quite a bit of work.  Plus, it would probably be a safety hazard since Rowan is constantly running around all over the place.

So, I modified my idea and made something that was much easier but just as cute.  I used four 9″ x 12″ sheets of red felt and placed those on each side of the base and then hot-glued their over-lapping corners to each other.  Then I glued some white felt overtop those overlapped pieces and trimmed everything up so there was an overhang of a couple inches all the way around.

Now the skirt easily slides onto (and off of) the cone, and the edges can be tucked underneath to completely cover the base.  The red and white is a nice festive pop, don’tcha think?

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been


Making the Star Topper

To make the star topper, I quickly (very quickly) sketched out a star shape onto some yellow felt with a pen….I’m the next Picasso, watch out!  Then I cut it out with some scissors and traced it two times on some more yellow felt, which I then cut out as well.  That gave me three star shapes.  I then glued them together on all their edges except the bottom two (half of one shape onto half of another)….this left a little opening to fit over top the tree.

Then I trimmed up the edges some to make them all smooth and even (evenish at least….and that last pic here is pre-trimming, don’t worry).  Now the star just slides on over the top.  Couldn’t be easier!

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been


The Garland

For the garland around the tree, I used some links that we’ve had ever since Rowan was born.  They’re just basic links that are used to hang or attach toys….not as cool as real tinsel garland or Christmas lights, of course, but they add a colorful, festive vibe to the tree.

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

Now that I had all my components ready….it was time to assemble!


Rowan’s Toddler Christmas Tree is Complete!

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

Rowan still likes to grab an ornament (off of his tree now) and run over to hand it to me (or an invisible piece of it), but at least now these ornaments are safe for him to handle.

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

Super Easy to Assemble & Disassemble!

One great thing about this too is how easy it is to assemble (and pack up!).  The tree skirt, tree, and star topper just slide right on/off and can easily be packed away with the rest of the Christmas decorations, as can the little felt ornaments.

The toys and links can then be returned to Rowan’s mountains of other toys, that usually just stay scattered across the floor no matter how many times I pick them up….it’s amazing how that happens….

Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial | Where The Smiles Have Been

So have any of you made other super fun holiday things for toddlers?  I’m always looking for new things to do with my little man.  If so, please let me know below!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Where The Smiles Have Been | Crafts. DIY. Home. Mom Life.

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Friday 27th of November 2015

Christine, I am so impressed! what a clever idea and it will be so much fun for your child to decorate and rearrange those ornaments. I love the garland made from the little rings. I bet almost every mom with an infant or toddler already has them! This could actually be used for about 5 years or so in a child's young life! Brilliant!


Friday 27th of November 2015

Thank you for all the kind words, Barbara! Yes, I agree that this can grown with kiddos for several years. I made this last year for my son and he is getting a kick out of it again this Christmas! Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

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Monday 22nd of December 2014

[…] Toddler Christmas Tree Tutorial from Where the Smiles Have Been […]


Monday 15th of December 2014

Such a cute and creative idea ! Thank you for linking at Bloggers Brags . I have pinned to Bloggers Brags Pinterest board. We would love to see you today at the party.