The best Christmas art project for kids is here: meet the tape resist Christmas trees. This fantastic Christmas craft is absolutely a showstopper. Using cardboard and painter’s tape, this gorgeous painting project can be done with all kid ages (from toddlers to big kids).
What are tape resist Christmas trees?
Tape resist art is officially my favorite way to do large art with kids.
The “siblings” to this activity are Spider Web Tape Resist Art, which quickly became the most liked photo I’ve ever shared on Instagram, and Turkey Tape Resist Art.
What is tape resist art? Tape resist art is a fancy way to say “tape creating negative space on an art project.” Even if it’s painted over, the tape pulls up to reveal negative space. This negative space could make a name, a stained-glass effect, or lines on a Christmas tree.
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It’s not as complicated as it looks
There is something so fun about tape resist art and the good news on these tape resist Christmas trees: this was the easiest of them all to set up.
Just a few minutes with making some random lines on a triangular piece of cardboard and we were good to go.
Don’t worry: I’ll explain the step by step ASAP.
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- Cardboard – this allows the tape to pull up at the end.
- Painter’s tape – blue tape pulls up the easiest
- Washable paint – the paint we use (and I’ll never use another brand again)
- Large nylon brushes – I’ve tried to find these elsewhere, but this is the only place that sells them
- Muffin tin – to hold the paint
- Wash cloth – for kid drips and hand wipes
Ooof, this list looks long to make a little Christmas art for kids but it’s items that most families have lying around the house. Good activities don’t need elaborate supplies. Simple supplies are best.
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Start by cutting your cardboard into a triangle tree (I left the bottom of mine with a little stump).
No really, that’s it. Just start taping!
I made criss-cross lines, diagonal, etc all over this cardboard (imagining in a way that they are the strands of lights, but also not really over thinking it).
Trust me. If you’ve tried the spider web and the turkey versions, this will be a walk in the park.
I hung this Christmas art activity on the wall (I’ll get to this in the FAQ) because frankly, it’s easier to photograph. I made loops of tape and hooked them to the back to get it to stick on the wall.
RELATED: Looking for a Hanukkah version? Check out this awesome Hanukkah tape resist scene.
Notes (do not skip over these)
You do not need to do this on your wall:
I did because that helps me take better photos to show you (wink). You can do this anywhere that feels right to you. I’d recommend the floor or a table.
Doing an art project on the wall is great for arm strength – but I know it’s not for everyone.
Also, just FYI: my kids did not get washable paint on the walls. They know not to. This is a well established boundary and rule at our house (from toddler painting to today).
Soapbox: I use activities like this to teach my kids about rules and boundaries, and self-control. They know when and where they can paint.
I gave my kids specific paint colors to use
I wanted green trees, but I still wanted variety. So I did a little color hues/shades lesson with my kids and we made different types of green.
We used green, yellow, white, and blue paint to mix up this variety and it was perfection.
My plan was to have them leave the stumps cardboard colored, but I forgot to mention that vision to the 4-year-old and now he’s in love with the green stump. Oh well.
How to keep a kids painting space clean:
My secret weapon is always a wet wash cloth.
I set it with the kids and they can monitor their own drips. This starts best around 18 months old – and trust me: it’s a game changer. Kids stay 1000x cleaner when they have a wash cloth with them.
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Adjusting for toddlers and preschoolers
Just make the tape resist Christmas trees smaller.
Don’t make it giant and overwhelming, Make it a little more manageable for their attention spans.
This activity is multi age and can work with any child who is able to use paint (you as the caregiver can decide that) – what will determine the level of success is the size for a young painter. Smaller will be better and they’ll be so proud.
Tips – How to remove the tape
I have learned from the past to WAIT on peeling up the paint. Whenever I rush it, my paint and the cardboard peel.
Instead, let the paint fully dry: a full 24 hours just to be safe. I went slowly, varying the direction I was pulling up from and taking my time.
Add a little flair to this Christmas art for kids
To make this Christmas tree trimmed and ready for the big day, we added some ornaments. POM POM BALL ornaments!
Using wet glue, the kids added on “ornaments” to their trees to really make them pop and I’m telling you – this is the magic. We also added construction paper stars to the top.
Don’t have pom pom balls? Try dot stickers, regular stickers, or construction paper cut outs. Anything to give my tape resist Christmas trees a little something extra.
Frequently Asked Questions
I love the washable tempera paint from Discount School Supply. Washable tempera is my favorite (it’s bright, vibrant, but dries quickly and it’s actually washable).
Pro tip: When kids get washable paint on clothing, pre-treat it with HAND SOAP and warm water. This is my secret tip for never losing clothes to kid paint.
Nope! Like I said earlier, I did this on my walls because I’m a blogger and need to take photos. Do this wherever it makes sense to you. The floor, the deck, the wall of the shower…
Nope again! They know not to. This is a well established boundary and rule at our house. I use activities like this to teach my kids about rules and boundaries, and self-control. They know when and where they can paint.
Starting around 20 months old, I began letting the kids do coloring activities on the walls. Because they were given direct instructions on the rules and boundaries of an activity like this – and given the chance to do them – I’ve never had a single kid draw or paint on my walls (except for during an activity).
It’s kind of like water: in a bath tub, kids know they can dump and splash. But they know they can’t do that at dinner. Kids are really smart at transferring information.
Susie Allison, M. Ed
Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.
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