11 Alternative Christmas Tree Ideas

Christmas always feels more festive with a tree. But what if you don’t want a traditional tree?

When the holidays come around, the last thing you should have to worry about is having the space or budget for a Christmas tree. 

Whether you’re working with a very small living room in a loft apartment, or would rather save money on a tree this year to use that money towards something else, there are still plenty of options. 

Using household items or even finding things at the local store to enhance your style can be used to create a non-traditional Christmas tree that you and the kids will love.

Make it a family project and get everyone involved to add some holiday cheer and start a new tradition that can last for years to come.

Why Not Use a Traditional Tree?

Traditional trees are great, and they often help bring Christmas joy around the house. The only problem is that they’re quite expensive and tend to make a mess.

Fake trees (especially pre-lit or decorated ones) can cost well over $150, and if you get a real tree, you have to spend around $50 every year. It can start to add up real quick over time. 

There’s also the issue of real trees shedding their pine needles. Some individuals are even allergic to these types of trees, making them a hazard to the home. 

It all comes down to personal preference. A traditional tree is convenient or even a holiday staple in some homes, but it’s not for everyone. 

Some years, due to time, money, or both, using or creating an alternative tree will work best for you and your family. 

11 Ideas for Inspiration

1. Use Pallet Wood to Create a Flat Tree

Consider using pallet wood if you don’t have much space in your home for a large and awkward Christmas tree. 

Using flat pallet wood allows you to create the shape you want without having limbs in the way and taking up a ton of space. 

This is a cost-efficient option and can be displayed on a wall, or it could be free-standing if you use back and feet support. 

However you decide to use it, it can save you space and money.

A wooden pallet as an alternative christmas tree in the garden

2. Use Modern Elements From Your Home 

You don’t have to go out and buy specific items or turn this into a major DIY project if you have enough items lying around the house. 

Creating a modern and sophisticated alternative tree is possible with items such as a large glass vase, a branch from outside, and maybe even a few small ornaments. 

This would look great on your coffee table, dining room table, or even on an old wooden stool. Paired with neutral colors, these items create an elegant display and will still bring you holiday cheer. 

It looks great in a minimalistic home or any home that uses neutral colors and utilizes uncluttered spaces.  

Some modern christmas decorative pieces

3. Wire Tree with Lights

If you’re looking for the shape of a Christmas tree with a modern and unique edge, consider using a wire frame and decorating it with lights. 

With this option, you can save space and money and still have all of the holiday cheer and fun by using your favorite type of lights. 

If you don’t want to buy the materials for this project, you can use old wire hangers and create a round base for the bottom. Then, run a straight wire from the base to the top every few inches, forming a point at the top.  

You can even cut out the shape of a tree with construction paper and decorate it with lights. Tape it to the wall, string lights around it, even add a star to the top if you’d like, and you’ll really start to feel the holiday spirit! 

A wall painted christmas tree with a string light and small gifts at the bottom

4. Use Sticks and Twine

A modern option that would look great in a farmhouse-style home is using different lengths of sticks and twine. 

Start with the shortest stick at the top (make sure to center it) and end with the longest stick at the bottom. 

You tie them all together with the twine or leave space between each stick and hot-glue the twine to the sticks. 

This can be hung on the wall making it the perfect option for homes with very limited space in the living room. 

You can incorporate lights in this easy DIY project for added holiday fun.  

5. Decorate an Old Ladder 

If you have a wooden ladder lying around that you don’t use much, turn it into a unique Christmas tree. 

If you’re looking for a cost-effective and super easy option, look no further. 

Open the ladder, wrap it with your favorite string lights, and add some greenery to the rungs. 

It won’t take up much space, and you won’t have to go out and buy anything for this project. 

The kids will love helping you take an old household item and turn it into something magical. 

An old wooden ladder decorated with some christmas garlands

6. Utilize the Walls 

The best way to save space and leave your rooms open for your furniture is to use the walls to help you decorate. 

This is a fantastic option if you have small children or curious pets that like to take things off of the lower limbs of the trees. 

You can cut out a tree using construction paper and then tape it to the wall. Let the kids color ornaments and lights on the paper before hanging it up to give it a personal touch. 

They’ll love the fun activity, and it will make the tree special and meaningful. Taping it up on the wall means the kids and pets won’t run into it or knock it over, which will give you peace of mind. 

If you’re feeling really creative and don’t mind the mess, you can outline a tree using strips of wrapping paper or decorative tape. It would look great in a modern and minimalist home. 

A wall with a christmas tree silhouette using some washi tapes

7. Use a Bare Tree

Depending on the climate and environment you live in, you may have easy access to a bare tree. Especially around this time of year, trees start to lose their leaves and become barren. 

Use a fun bucket or vase, plant the bare tree, and then place it in the living room or dining room, wherever you want to display your tree.  

You can add lights or small (light-weight) ornaments to the bare tree, making this a fun and unusual display. Try to keep things neutral and leave plenty of space to make this a modern and contemporary alternative idea. 

It’s cost-efficient, and with the kids’ help, it’ll only take a few minutes to completely set up. 

A bare tree in a bucket decorated with some christmas balls and stars

8. Incorporate Old Book Pages 

If you love to read, you probably have old books lying around the house. Maybe you’ve already read a certain book multiple times, or you have a stack of books that you’re finished with and plan to donate. 

Use the pages from one (or several) of your books to create an alternative tree. Use the pages to create the shape on the wall. You can use specific pages with your favorite lines or keep it random. 

For an added effect, you can (carefully) burn the edges of the pages to make this a rustic and industrial option. 

Once the shape is up on the wall, you can decide if you want to add lights, draw on ornaments, or just keep it simple and collect gifts underneath it. 

Old book pages used to make a collage of a christmas tree

9. Create a Collage

You can create a personal and very meaningful tree with the help of pictures and sentimental items that you have around the house. 

Creating a collage in the shape of a tree will bring positive and loving memories into your home and help you display moments you’re most fond of. 

You can incorporate items such as your favorite framed quote, a picture of you and your loved ones, season decor, and pictures of nature that you feel drawn to. 

Using these items in the shape of a tree will feel festive and add a level of authenticity to your home. 

High contrast picture collage forming a christmas tree
A diy christmas tree using some photos and decor

10. Get Creative 

Using creative and unexpected elements is a great way to add interest to your space and to your alternative tree. 

You can achieve this by using items that you have at home, making this an inexpensive or even free project. 

Using the cut-out of a tree shape, you can add elements like twine and even lights with the addition of personal and meaningful objects. 

Instead of ornaments, use items like a Christmas card from your parents, a family photo, a gift bow, or anything else of meaning that you may have available. 

Try not to overload it so it doesn’t feel cluttered or hectic, and instead, use elements that you have a personal or meaningful connection to. 

If you want to go more on the creative side, you can use a bare wooden tree and add a hanging light bulb or something interesting to it. 

You can create an industrial and modern tone this way, which would look great in many homes. 

A small wooden christmas tree with some cute elements
A bare christmas tree stand with some lightbulbs

11. Use a Wooden Tree 

A modern and unexpected way to decorate for the holidays is with a wooden tree. You can use a cut-out, sticks, or even a 3D version. 

Depending on how much space you have in your home, you can make a life-size alternative tree or keep it small enough to fit on the coffee table. 

If you’re up for a DIY project, you can achieve this on any budget as long as you have the right tools. 

Once the tree is built, you can add string lights, ornaments, pictures, or any personal elements that you’d like. If you want to keep things simple and minimal, you can leave it empty and let the wood elements shine. 

This also gives you the opportunity to use colorful ornaments and have fun with a color scheme. If you like adding unexpected pops of color, this is a great opportunity. 

The colors will shine against natural wood and make your space bright and inviting. 

It’s a modern and fun way to get in the holiday spirit!

A minimalistic wooden christmas cree
A wall style christmas tree using colorful christmas balls
Jessica Childres
Jessica Childres is a Georgia native and former teacher. She loves to share her skills, knowledge and passion with others. She has an ongoing interest in real estate, home decorating, and design.
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