DIY and Crafts

10 alternative Christmas trees that bring in the festive cheer

If a real tree isn’t available to you this year, try one of these alternative Christmas trees to bring in the festive cheer

1. Driftwood tree

A driftwood tree is a great option for a Kiwi Christmas, because we so often spend the day by the beach or lake. If a structure like the one above isn’t available to you, make your own by securing pieces of drift wood together with wire or cable ties, adding pieces on until you have constructed the shape you want. Place your driftwood tree in a bucket or pot using pebbles or sand to keep it in place.

The driftwood arms of the tree offer great perches to hang decorations off. If you want to stick with the beach theme, hang dried flowers and wooden decorations in a tonal colour theme off the branches.


2. Ladder tree

A wooden ladder is the perfect fit for this minimalist, handcrafted look. Make sure it has rungs on both sides.

Fasten fishing wire to your chosen baubles and tie to every rung. Use as many ornaments as you like, or are able to fit in the colours and shapes of your choosing. This one is decorated with clear fillable baubles containing dried foliage that were repurposed from last year’s tree, plus some green and silver balls that were mixed in and added for extra colour. For a natural, handmade look, there is also some small dried wattle posies hanging off the wire too.

If you only have a flat ladder available, fear not! You can use this too. Simply lean it up against a wall and hang your desired decorations from it. If you want to go an extra step, wrap fairy lights around the rungs and sides.


3. 3D wooden tree

If you have the tools on hand, pop down to your local Bunnings or Mitre 10 and grab a couple of sheets of plywood or MDF and use a jig saw to cut out two tree shapes that will slot together to great a 3D tree.

Leave it as is for a more minimalist look, or add some painted baubles with paint.


4. Painted branches

If your style tends towards Scandi minimalism, this pot and branch ‘tree’ could be perfect for you. Select your pot, place four oasis blocks (also known as floral foam) in the base and position screwed-up newspaper around them to keep them in place. Stick your chosen branches into the blocks and tweak until you’re happy with the arrangement. Cover the foam with straw or a piece of fabric, then decorate the branches. We upcycled some old ceramic decorations, painting them with testpots of Resene ‘Nullarbor’, Resene ‘Okey Dokey’ and Resene ‘Sour Dough’ and, when dry, threading twine through the holes for hanging.


5. Invisible tree

From DIY queen Erena Te Paa comes the invisible tree, constructed with fishing wire and much patience. Erena created a ceiling mount with MDF board, in which is dried a number of holes in a spiral pattern. She then fastened varying lengths of fishing wire through these holes off which the decorations hung. Check out her video for an exact step-by-step.


6. Flat plywood tree

Take a standard sheet of ply and draw a triangle on it from the top to the bottom. Saw off the sides and sand the edges smooth. Hammer small nails part-way into the ply for hanging decorations.

Alternatively, decorate it with wallpaper. To make this version of the flat plywood tree, take a sheet of plywood and cut into a triangle (ours is 181cm tall by 120cm wide). Lay the triangle on the floor and roll a piece of wallpaper down the middle. Use either glue or double-sided tape to fix the wallpaper to the board. Trim off excess and secure the edges at the back of the triangle. If the lower corners are still showing, cut two more pieces of wallpaper to cover them up, ensuring you line up the pattern; trim and secure as before. Now simply lean your ‘tree’ against a wall and top with a star.


7. Banner tree

A simple banner tree is easy to hang and delivers maximum impact. If you can’t find one to buy, make your own by painting a tree onto a strip of plain fabric.


7. Bookcase tree

Create this tree by turning your books so their spine faces the back of the bookshelf, or – if you have enough – take all your green-toned books and have the spine facing outwards. Then, hang garlands across the shelves and position baubles beside the books.


8. Small floral tree

This alternative Christmas tree idea is perfect for small spaces. Pick a bunch of foliage from your garden and arrange it in your favourite vase. Then, hang decorations and fairy lights over and around the foliage.

Once your foliage dies, either swap it out for some new cuttings, or strip the dead leaves off and hang new decorations off the bare branches.


9. Origami tree

Inspired byJapanese origami, this folded-rosette tree is so lovely, you may be tempted to keep it up all year.

To make this tree, you’ll need paper in gold and other assorted colours such as black, pink and orange. Simply fold a long rectangle of paper into zigzags (start at the short end and fold down the length of the paper). Fan paper out into a circle shape and join ends together with a few staples, then simply Blu Tack each rosette to the wall.

Mix up the sizes and colours for rhythm and scale and make sure it’s not top-heavy. You can even use the rosettes to decorate gifts – pretty and affordable.


10. Simple yarn tree

Make a light mark on the wall where you want the apex of the tree to go and hammer in a small nail.

Tie a long piece of wool to the nail and let it drop to the ground.

Mark the base point of the tree where the wool falls (pull the wool taut and make sure it is perpendicular to the floor) then hammer in a small nail.

Pull wool taut and tie to nail. From this point, use a ruler to mark even spaces along base in both directions. Put nails into each point.

Tie wool from top nail down to each point, making sure wool is taut. Trim ends of wool and add a decorative star.

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