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

Christmas is fast approaching, and if you’re considering not going down the traditional Christmas tree route and looking for a Christmas tree alternative, read on. There are plenty of environmentally friendly and affordable options that will still look spectacular for Santa’s arrival. From reusing driftwood found on the beach to using no tree at all (don’t worry, we still have decorations), there’s a Christmas tree alternative for everyone. Lastly, if you’re still feeling nostalgic for the traditional pine scent of a real Christmas tree, consider a Christmas-scented candle.

10 Christmas Tree alternatives to try this festive season

1. Driftwood Christmas 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 driftwood 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. A ladder Christmas tree

A wooden ladder is the perfect fit for this minimalist, handcrafted look. If you’re living in a small space, such as an apartment or tiny home, this alternative tree is perfect as it doesn’t crowd the living area.

Make sure it has rungs on both sides. Fasten fishing wire to your chosen decoration 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 are also some small dried wattle posies hanging off the wire.

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

3. 3D Wooden Christmas tree

If you have the tools on hand, pop down to your local Bunnings or Trade Tested, 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 create a festive 3D tree.

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

4. Paint some branches to create a festive alternative Christmas tree

If your style leans 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 Christmas 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 she drilled several holes in a spiral pattern. She then fastened varying lengths of fishing wire through the holes and hung the decorations. Check out her video for an exact step-by-step.

6. Flat plywood Christmas 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 on 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. A banner Christmas 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. A bookcase Christmas 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. A small floral Christmas 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. A Japanese origami Christmas tree

Inspired by Japanese 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. A simple yarn Christmas 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 the base in both directions and put nails into each point. Tie wool from the top nail down to each point, making sure the wool is taut. Trim the ends of the wool and add a decorative star.

Read this next: 11 Elf on the Shelf ideas the kids will love.


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