20 Creative Alternatives to a Traditional Christmas Tree

You don't have to "haul out the holly" to bring the holiday spirit into your home.

Photo: Getty Images

Sometimes a traditional Christmas tree just isn't in the cards. Maybe you're not that into the falling pine needles, don't have storage space for an artificial tree (or room for displaying a tree), or you just want to set up something fun and festive in a different room of your house.

Fortunately, with a little creativity, you can still create pretty, tree-like decor—without actually bringing a Christmas tree home.

These alternative Christmas tree ideas help spread holiday cheer while fitting into your home and lifestyle.

01 of 20

Pinecone Tree

Pinecone Christmas tree
Getty Images

A cone-shaped styrofoam form, a few pinecones and dried fruit, and a little hot glue are all you need to create this little rustic Christmas tree.

02 of 20

A Gift Tree

Gift Box Christmas Tree
Getty Images

Stack up beautifully wrapped gifts (or some big empty boxes) to form a tree shape. Brown craft paper and twine make this an affordable option.

03 of 20

Book Christmas Tree

Alternative Christmas Tree Made of Books
Getty Images

All you need is a few books and a strand of garland or lights to create this charming Christmas tree for your reading nook. (Photocopy a few pages from a holiday favorite to snip and glue into a star at the top.)

04 of 20

A Wood Plank Tree

alternative Christmas tree
Getty Images

For this creative take on the traditional Christmas tree, lengths of wood are assembled together—and simple thumbtacks secure the ornaments in place.

05 of 20

A Wintry Branch

Getty Images

Bare branches can be perfect for highlighting your favorite ornaments from each branch—stick with a single color scheme to give it a cohesive look.

06 of 20

Succulent Tree

Decorative succulent Christmas tree

Find a cone-shaped planting form, or use faux succulents and hot glue (plus a few choice ornaments) to create this unique tree.

07 of 20

Tiered Tray Tree

Christmas decoration golden decoration balls and christmas tree

Rather than putting sweets and treats on your favorite tiered tray, load it up with pretty Christmas ball ornaments for a festive tree-like centerpiece.

08 of 20

A Garland-Wrapped Ladder

Christmas decoration ideas - Leaning Ladder
Nicole Franzen

For a minimalist Christmas tree with a Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic, lean a wooden ladder against the wall, then adorn it with a faux pine garland and beautiful velvet stockings. If you miss the scent of real pine, mix a few sprigs of the real stuff into the garland to fill the room with the familiar aroma.

09 of 20

Tree Print

Tree Print Christmas Tree

Take a photo of a tree and turn it into a large-scale print at your local office-printing store (like Kinko's or Staples). Attach it to a long wooden dowel and hang it like a tapestry with string. You can either leave the print as is, or add ornaments to a string and tape them to the tree.

Photo and idea from Almost Makes Perfect.

10 of 20

The Mini Tree

Christmas decoration ideas - Faux Hearth
Nicole Franzen

Even if you don't have room for a traditional Christmas tree, you can get the same look on a smaller scale. Instead of the 7-foot fir tree, opt for a 3- or 4-foot-tall one, and use a decorative metal planter in place of the typical tree stand and skirt. Then, keep the ornaments minimal so you don't overwhelm the branches.

11 of 20

A Chalkboard Tree

Chalkboard Christmas Tree

If you're ready to make a bigger commitment, designate a wall (or part of one) as your chalkboard wall. Coat it with chalkboard paint, let it dry, and change up the decorations and drawings according to the season. Here, a hand-drawn fireplace and tree create a whimsical vignette. Then use putty or tape to affix Christmas lights, a stocking, and leaves in the "frame" to add a 3-D effect. The whole scene is completed with a cozy lounge area in front of the wall.

Photo and idea from Mr. Kate.

12 of 20

Pineapple Christmas Tree

Pineapple Christmas Tree with Gold Ornaments
Getty Images

For countertop or tabletop holiday displays, the humble pineapple can make a big splash with a little creative magic mixed in. Spray a fresh pineapple festive colors, or go silver and gold for a more sophisticated look. If you're feeling particularly crafty, you can even hang tiny ornaments from the leaves or wrap the base with twinkle lights. The pineapples will last four to five days, so save this alternative Christmas tree for just before the holiday.

13 of 20

Crepe Paper

Crepe Paper Christmas Tree

For a trendy fringe effect, try adding strips of crepe paper in tiers. Fringe each strip with scissors and layer one on top of the other—you can play around with different color combinations, too. Tape paper stars and a tree topper to the fringe to finish the modern take on a Christmas tree.

Photo and idea from Clouds of Colour.

14 of 20

Felt Christmas Tree

Alternative Christmas trees - Felt Christmas Tree

This one's for the kids, and perfect for a playroom or bedroom: Create (or buy) a felt Christmas tree cutout, then use Velcro and felt ornaments to let your kids play and "decorate." (And hey—it may keep them away from fussing with the ornaments on a bigger Christmas tree, too.)

15 of 20

Modern Greenery Tree

Fresh Greens Christmas Tree

You can still get that fresh pine fragrance without a tree—or relying on a scented candle. Take an extra-long wooden dowel and cut it into graduated sizes to create a triangle "tree" shape. Glue fresh evergreen branches or rosemary to the dowels. Once they're dry, attach the wooden pieces to the wall with painter's tape.

Photo and idea from Almost Makes Perfect.

16 of 20

Branches Tree

Branches Christmas Tree

This crafty Christmas tree idea brings in the feeling of a real Christmas tree, but without the added bulk of a large fir. Various-sized branches are strung together with rope and ornaments are hung from the branches. The whole "tree" is topped with a rustic-inspired star.

17 of 20

The Washi-Tape Tree

Washi Tape Christmas Tree

This washi tape DIY is a no-fail, last minute project. Create a tree design on a blank wall with patterned washi tape and attach strings of ornaments on the "tree" with clear tape. Customize it to your decor style by choosing different colored tape and adding other ornaments or details.

Photo and idea Homey Oh My.

18 of 20

Christmas Ornament Trees

Alternative Christmas trees - Glass Christmas Tree

When you're decorating a small space like an office cubicle or dorm room—or if you just want to put the focus on special vintage ornaments—look for tabletop ornament trees. They add a festive touch as a holiday table centerpiece.

19 of 20

Paper Triangle Tree

Paper Triangle Tree

For a bold, colorful Christmas look, try this wall "tree" made of an assortment of cardstock, painter's tape, and string lights. Cut triangles out of the cardstock, then layer them on the wall in a tree shape with tape. For a finishing touch, trim the "tree" with string lights and push pins.

Photo and idea from Brit+Co.

20 of 20

Recycled Holiday Card Tree

Wall Christmas tree made from cards

Use last year's holiday cards (or this year's as they arrive in the mail) to form the tree's triangular body and use one vertical mailer for the stump. Create a loose arrangement on the floor first to make sure to form a shape you like. Attach them safely to your wall using a loop of painter's tape on the back of each card. Position your arrangement above a console table and use the surface to stash and stack your gifts beneath.

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