DIY Christmas Tree Discovery Shelf

I’ll be honest- the inspiration for this tree came about because I was being lazy about taking out recycling. We had a stack of amazon boxes by our basement door, ordered from largest to smallest, and when I glanced at it, it looked like a Christmas tree. I couldn’t resist taking the idea further. All it took was a little trimming, hot glue and paint to make something really cool for toddlers to play with!

Why make a Christmas Tree Discovery Shelf?

I’ve been admiring the Felt Christmas Trees all over Pinterest lately, and the idea behind them is great. Toddlers are going to want to play with a real Christmas tree, but there are some inherent dangers, so by providing them with a safe alternative to manipulate, you can channel their energy without having to worry about the real one falling over on them!

*safety note: this shelf is made of cardboard and could also tip over if your toddler tries to climb it. Make sure to supervise it’s use as appropriate for the age of your child. For more information please see my safety disclosure.*

To make your own DIY Christmas Tree Discovery Shelf you will need;

-Three cardboard boxes in various sizes (which shouldn’t be too hard this time of year, especially if you’re an Amazon junkie like me!)

-Green Paint (I used tempera and it was fine but acrylic would be best)

Hot glue

-Paper or fabric in a variety of textures (I had craft foam, glitter paper, foil paper and metallic card stock)

-Christmas lights or LED candles

-Age-appropriate Christmas books and toys

Directions for making your DIY Christmas Tree Discovery Shelf;

Step 1: Stack your boxes on their sides, and trim the top and bottom flaps

I decided to leave the bottom flap on the bottom box to add a tiny bit of stability and create a larger surface for toys and boxes.

Step 2: use a ruler to draw a diagonal line from the inside top to the outside bottom of each side flap

Let’s be honest- you probably don’t want to go find a ruler! Use the edge of the biggest flap you just trimmed instead.

Then cut along your lines to make some nice Christmasy triangles.

Step 3: Tape the triangles from the bottom box together to make the top triangle

Next, fold the bottom inch back to make a stand so you can glue it on top.

Step 4: Hot glue all of your boxes together

Don’t forget to add the triangle to the top!

Step 5: Paint it green!

I painted the sides as well, but not the back, since it would be against a wall

Step 6: Decorate!

If you’d like to add Christmas lights, this would be a good time. You can use the method I outline in my post; DIY Baby Stargazing Box for a really magical effect!

I cut round ornaments out of craft foam, glitter paper, foil paper and metallic card stock. I like that the different textures add a little sensory element to the Christmas tree. I decided to just use silver and white, but you could make them as colorful as you want!

Make sure to securely glue all of your decorations in place. I recommend using hot glue or another strong glue so the toddlers won’t rip them off.

Step 7: Set it up!

This is the fun part! Gather up some toddler-safe Christmas trinkets and stock your shelf! I used;

-LED Christmas lights (use your parental discretion on these. My children will only use this with supervision but if they make you nervous, leave them out)

-Wooden trains from the Target dollar spot

-Some reusable gift boxes- these are the BEST toys for toddlers! You can put all sorts of things in them, and it’s a surprise every time! They also love filling them themselves

-Jumbo jingle bells (also from Target!)

-A couple of Christmas board books- Little Blue Truck’s Christmas and Merry Christmas Mouse!

-A few other ornaments that we had laying around

Step 8: Enjoy!

My twins have been having a blast with this setup! They like rattling the jingle bells, looking through the books, opening the boxes, and feeling the textures of the ornaments. So far it’s been a great way to make the holiday hands-on for them!

What will you put on your DIY Christmas Tree Discovery Shelf?

Leave a comment and let me know!

For more DIY fun with cardboard boxes, make sure to check out my DIY Sensory Play Box for Babies and Apple Orchard Math Play Corner.

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4 thoughts on “DIY Christmas Tree Discovery Shelf

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  1. This is an awesome idea. I’ve been thinking about doing something that my more active toddler would be more interested in then felt. I will be making this one. Hopefully he won’t climb it! 😉

  2. This is a great idea! Such a great way to show “this is your tree” and hopefully get them to leave the real tree alone a little better! lol Thanks!

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