The Tree-Free Christmas: 14 Alternatives You Can DIY

This year, whatever your motivation, have a go at making your own nontraditional Christmas tree. Here are 14 amazing examples, all created from items you can pick up at your local home center.

  1. Collection of Wall Art

    Collection of Wall Art

    Imagine if you could do something wonderful with all of those buttons, bangles, and useless but beautiful objects you seem to attract? Well, you can. The great thing about this Christmas tree is that it can be sized according to your inclination for collecting—and enlarged over time.

  2. Egg Carton Stack

    Egg Carton Stack

    Sure, they can be recycled, but why not put those cardboard egg cartons to some good decorative use—at least for the holidays. You'll need to collect a fair number of cartons (or own a bakery, or have a large family), but once you have enough, you can color them with acrylic paint and start stacking, trimming the cartons as you go higher.

  3. Light-Covered Ladder

    Light-Covered Ladder

    A ladder's shape and height are perfect for a surrogate tree. You probably have at least one ladder at your disposal, so why not decorate it with holiday lights and ornaments as a "handyman's special" Christmas tree. It's the perfect tribute to the DIY dad—and no needles to clean up afterwards.

  4. Cutout Silhouette

    Cutout Silhouette

    With nothing more than a saw and some plywood, you can create your own Christmas tree cutout forest. Give the "tree" a coat of paint and create a stand, or, if it's tall, just lean it against the wall. Then add some backlighting and let the holidays begin.


  5. Suspended Tree

    Suspended Tree

    With ornaments and plenty of fishing wire you have the makings of a tree that floats in midair. Cut the fishing line to gradually decreasing lengths and attach an ornament to one end. Attach the opposite ends to a top in a spiraled pattern and secure this piece to the ceiling (a steamer rack was used here, but you could easily substitute a less expensive option—like a discarded screen).

  6. Tower of Books

    Tower of Books

    We've found some pretty interesting things to do with old books, but this is the first with a holiday theme. Although this hardcover book tree may look pretty easy, according to its maker, getting the spacing and shape Christmas-worthy was a bit of a challenge. Here's how it was done.

  7. A Swath of Lights

    A Swath of Lights

    Miniature string lights are beautiful on their own, but hang them on a wall in a traditional Christmas tree shape and they become magical. Use small pins (pushpins) or brads to create the outline, and then do what comes naturally—string the lights!

  8. Christmas Card Display

    Christmas Card Display

    This year, make your tree do double duty as both a decoration and holiday card holder. Using rough-cut wood from a local lumberyard (or even shipping pallets), a few coats of paint, and strategically placed clothespins or clips, you too can craft this inexpensive and functional tree.

  9. Mirror Tree

    Mirror Tree

    Put a standing mirror in your living room to work this year by creating the illusion of a Christmas tree with stacked green objects. Starting large on the bottom and gradually getting smaller, the abstract tree will only appear when viewed at a certain angle. If you're not able to muster up a collection of objects that work, used wrapped presents to achieve a similar look.

  10. Chalkboard Design

    Chalkboard Design

    This chalkboard tree from Canadian House & Home is easy enough to re-create. Snag a canvas drop cloth from the hardware store, cover it with chalkboard paint, and then hang with a dowel or curtain rod. Once the holidays are over, replace the tree drawing with whatever works for the season.

  11. Legos Tree

    Legos Tree

    With a lot of planning (and even more patience) - and a few thousand Legos - you can build a holiday tree as grand and crazy as you can imagine. Decorate with ornaments created from Legos or use your family's collection for an even more interesting look.

  12. Bundle of Branches

    Bundle of Branches

    If you are lucky enough to have access to some branches, consider creating this nature-inspired wall tree. Select branches in varying lengths—or cut to size—to create the pyramid shape. Then, secure to the wall and decorate with string lights and special treasures.

  13. Bottle Tree

    Bottle Tree

    You'll have to plan for this bottle tree well in advance of the holiday season (or befriend your local bartender). A collection of green glass bottles are logical but other colors could be incorporated for an even more festive look. One thing is certain: This tree will outshine any other — the reflections of string lights in the stacked bottles really sparkle.

  14. Palm Tree

    Palm Tree

    Perhaps a more appropriate tree selection for warmer climates, a decorated palm tree becomes even crazier in a home surrounded by snow. Cuddling by the fireplace in the light of your garland-covered palm tree, you'll almost imagine you're sunbathing on a beach... instead of trying to warm up after a snowball fight.

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