14 Christmas Tree Alternatives for the Holiday Season

From Simple to Ornate

washi tape christmas tree

@thiswildbunch / Instagram

Discovering new and creative ways to do the same old thing with the most traditional of all holiday symbols—the Christmas tree.

There are several reasons for turning to an alternative Christmas tree instead of putting up a faux tree or finding one at a lot:

  • Alternative trees can be eco-friendly, saving a live tree from being cut down or using recycled materials to create something unique.
  • There’s the bonus of not dealing with the pine needles that can constantly fall on the floor. No watering is necessary.
  • Minimalists love these trees because they can save space, time, and money.
  • Parents have warmed to alternatives because they can be less tempting to little ones, like ornament-free versions that are placed high on a wall.

But the top reason for crafting an alternative tree is to exercise creativity, to try out a new twist on a holiday standard. Sure, there’s something that’s so lovely about a big, green pine decorated in its festive glory. But it’s also refreshing to see people who think outside the box to start fresh, never-before-seen traditions of their own.

If you’d love to give an alternative tree a whirl this Christmas, these 14 inventive ideas will get you started.

  • 01 of 14

    Branches and Fairy Lights

    Tree branches, string lights, and ornaments hanging on wall in shape of Christmas tree

    @coxandcox / Instagram

    A Christmas tree hung on the wall is an amazing space saver—you’ll be free from constantly running into a tree set up in the middle of a room. This wall tree is particularly magical, made up of natural tree branches, fairy lights and whimsical ornaments in a soft color palette. Pieces of twine bring it all together, creating a one-piece wall hanging.

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  • 02 of 14

    A Stack of Books

    Lovely Etc.

    This tree is tailor-made for all those literature lovers out there, or those who have extensive collections of vintage books. Stack some of your favorite tomes in varying sizes to make a tree shape. Place them on top of a galvanized metal bucket to give it a base, and finish with a string of fairy lights and a star. Similarly-hued books create a cohesive effect.

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  • 03 of 14

    Butcher Paper and Paint

    White tree painted on butcher paper

    @chelsea.mitch / Instagram

    For an alternative tree with a farmhouse look, use a large piece of butcher paper as a backdrop for a white, painted tree. Pine trees are fairly easy to reproduce. Just paint long, wispy strokes along a trunk, then once it’s dry, hang it on the wall using a piece of twine. A bit of garland will make your tree artwork look extra-joyful.

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  • 04 of 14

    A Dress Form

    Dress form wrapped in string lights

    @petitesol / Instagram

    A metal dress form is reimagined as a Christmas tree, complete with white string lights and a marquee-style star. Whether it’s a vintage find or purchased from HomeGoods, a dress form is certainly an unexpected Christmas tree, making for a perfect conversation piece at holiday gatherings.

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  • 05 of 14

    A Photo Collage

    Photo collage of lighted pine tree

    @deersphotos / Instagram

    Photos can be an almost-effortless, modern way to display a Christmas tree. Here, a sequence of photos cleverly represents a pine tree from a single photo, but you can also tack up any beloved photos to form a tree shape—family photos, wintry vacation photos, photos in tree-like greens. The possibilities are endless.

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  • 06 of 14

    Copper Pipes

    A Joyful Riot

    Pieces of copper pipes in descending lengths and white string work together to create an on-trend Christmas tree. Copper is having a moment, along with non-traditional holiday colors like teals and pastels. It’s a hardware store creation that acts beautifully as a 21st-century tree.

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  • 07 of 14

    Wooden Frames

    Christmas ornaments hanging from wooden a-frames

    @danslelakehouse / Instagram

    These wooden trees, offering places to perch glass ornaments, play well with midcentury-inspired décor. The bright-blue ornaments pack a visual pop hung in wooden, tree-shaped a-frames that can be purchased on Etsy. Or you can try your hand at crafting them yourself.

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  • 08 of 14

    A Ladder

    Wooden ladder decorated with string lights

    @noelanilangille / Instagram

    The shape of a ladder just lends itself to being decorated as a tree. If you have a ladder that’s on the small side, drape it in lights, mini keepsakes, ornaments and a modern star. A white, fuzzy rug adds to the Scandinavian vibe of the scene.

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  • 09 of 14

    Washi Tape

    washi tape christmas tree

    @thiswildbunch / Instagram

    There are near-limitless uses for washi tape, including making an oh-so-minimalist Christmas tree. Simply purchase a roll or two in your preferred colors (this gold tape offers a hint of holiday sparkle) and tape a tree shape on your wall. Festive flair can be added with a paper star and ornaments. Plus, washi tape is removable, which means when you take it down, you won’t be taking paint with it.

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  • 10 of 14

    Seasonal Greenery

    Tree branches hanging on wall

    @ajauntwithjoy / Instagram

    This alternative tree has appeal for those who love to bring the outside in or are self-proclaimed foragers, gathering natural materials from their backyards and neighborhoods. All you have to do is collect a grouping of seasonal branches (boxwood branches or pine boughs work well) and hang them on your wall, using clear, removable tape or white twine to string them together. An alternative tree never looked so simple and pretty.

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  • 11 of 14

    Geometric Pattern

    diy painted geometric christmas tree
    Lovely Indeed

    For something more modern and cool, try your hand at painting this geometric tree. The use of bright colors and the addition of fairy lights will bring whimsy to your living room.

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  • 12 of 14

    Gold Leaves

    diy gold leaf christmas tree
    Crafts Unleashed

    Gold is a gorgeous color at any time of year, but it's especially perfect for the holidays. These tiny trees will sparkle on your coffee table or mantel, giving the room some subtle, chic Christmas decor.

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  • 13 of 14


    diy plywood christmas tree
    The Merrythought

    This plywood tree is a minimalist's dream. Place this in a corner of your small space to blend seamlessly with the rest of your decor. Add some scandi design elements like cozy textures and greenery. You'll need some woodworking skills to make this yourself, or you could just ask a friend with a circular saw to help you out.

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  • 14 of 14

    Colorful Honeycombs

    colorful honeycomb christmas tree
    Studio DIY

    Bright colors and bold design really make this "tree" stand out. It couldn't be any easier, either, to set up this display. Gather your supplies of honeycombs and painter's tape and your Christmas tree will be ready to go in a matter of minutes.