Wednesday, December 23, 2020

10 Christmas Tree Alternatives To Get You Thinking Outside The Boughs

Am I the only one who doesn't want the holidays to end this year? All my social media feeds are full of the coziest eye candy, and I could look at pictures of quirky menorahs and woodsy Solstice wreaths and twinkly Christmas trees forever. Ahhhh.

I know Hanukkah is over, but the other week my friend Jarrett dubbed this his "Menorahsaurus" and it demanded to be shared.

Oh! And then there are all the crafts and foods and crafty foods. Apparently John and I have to make something called Christmas Crack? Have you heard of this?

Anyhoo, since I can already see staying on topic is going to be a challenge today, let's get right to it. In case the dinosaur didn't tip you off, I love quirky holiday decor, so I've been saving pictures of fun and funky tree alternatives all month to show you bots. It it too late to actually make any of these? NEVAHHH. Maybe. If so, then just enjoy the pretty pics.

Oh, and I gave them all punny names, because, me.

Starting with an oldie but a goodie:

- Oh 2D Tree

I've always gone heart-eyes over Suessical and/or cartoon styles, so this has been one of my favorites for years. It also reminds me of Borderlands. Add in the fact that all you need is scrap cardboard and paint, and I'm all in. Love me some cheap builds.

Next, cue the Will Smith song:

- Gettin' Twiggy With It:

(By Brocante Ma Jolie on Etsy)

Na na na na nana na

You're welcome for the ear worm. This one could potentially be another no-cost craft, if you have a bunch of branches in the yard and some spare twine.

- A Step Above

How cute is this for that old ladder in the garage?

"Ok," you're thinking, "but MY ladder is aluminum, so I can't pull off the rustic look."

No worries, then you could do this!

Provided you don't have cats. Or kids. Or any strong gusts of wind. 

OK, let's be honest, no one is going to do this. But it looks cool, right?

- Life of The Party Tree
This Tree's Got BALLS

(By Oh Joy!)

Start with a trellis base and add as many giant paper balls and ornaments as you like. (Joy made a mini forest of these, hit the link to see the rest!) This one would take a lot of advance planning/shopping, but I love the idea because most of it folds flat for storage.

- The Branch Manager:

(By Grandin Road retailer)

No more trunk space? Then ditch the trunk! I'd try to DIY this with a bunch of faux ferns to get that tapered effect.
 - The Eagle Has Garlanded

First let's take a moment to appreciate that pun, because it's my favorite.

Thank you.

This is also my favorite most doable "tree" on the list. All you need are a few things from the dollar store, and it shouldn't take long to put up, either. Just attach a bunch of Command Hooks sideways down the wall in 2 lines, then zigzag your garland & lights through! I really want to try this one, we're just hard up for that much free wall space, ha.

- A Happy Holiday Is In The Cards:

(via Mack Male on Flickr)

I'm going to guess there are stacked foam circles in there to give it structure, which, you know, sounds like a lot of work. You could use boxes or do a 2D version on a wall, instead: just tack up the cards with Museum Putty.

- Totally Tubular:

(via Makezine)

This PVC pipe design is another old favorite of mine; that picture just makes me happy. It's like a little cabinet of curiosities! And you can attach it to a board like they have, so it hangs on the wall like a big picture.

I went looking to see if anyone else had ever made a pipe tree, and found this version with lights from Leroy Merlin:


- Some Light-Hearted Fun

John and I have a huge mass of LED lights with almost translucent wires, and I would LOVE to try this with them. It's sort of ghostly and heavenly at the same time. Looks like all you need are the lights, some tulle, and a sturdy ceiling hook. (I'm not sure how they attached them to the ground, but I'd use white foam board with notches round the edge.)

And finally:

- Feelin' A Little Extra Extra
Literal Christmas Trash

That, my friends, is a giant pile of old newspapers, probably stuffed in a tomato cage or wire frame. More proof you don't need to spend a lot of money to make cool things! I like how ruffly it is, and the splotches of pastel colors. Then when you're done, it all goes in the recycling bin!

I'd like to try a smaller version with tissue paper; you could do some awesome color combos that way: rainbow stripes, perhaps?

I hope these made you smile, and maybe inspired you to try a last-minute craft? Or at least to tuck these away for next year. Just remember: if it's not fun and fulfilling, drop it. Nothing about this season is mandatory, and this year especially, you get a free pass to skip as much as you like.

Five years from now no one will remember or care if you finished the baking or the decorating or the shopping; they'll just remember you, and the love you share together. So please be kind to yourself this week. Rest up. Chat with a friend who makes you feel seen. Play with your kids, read a good book. Then when you replenish those spoons, when your cup is full, pass it on.

As predicted I'm nowhere NEAR finished with all my Christmas content, so stay tuned for my yearly house tour - no theme, just random silliness John and I've put together - plus a couple more crafty projects. I'll try to at least taper off by the new year... but no promises. This is how *I* fill up, and I'm having too much fun.  ;)


P.S. John and I aren't exchanging gifts this year - with each other or with anyone, really - which is why I have the energy for decorating and crafts. I'll still happily use Christmas as an excuse to buy myself something, though, so I thought I'd show you my two "gifts" this year:

First, this monster tree brooch by MarliToys:

Lidiya hand makes & paints each little stuffed fabric character, and I love this so much I decided to... TREE't myself. Eh? EH? It's coming from Ukraine, though, so I don't think it will make it by the 25th - but that's just another reason to extend my Christmas celebrating.

And second, I ordered this sweet Mickey vinyl by another of my favorite artists, Miss Mindy:

I think this retailed for $30 at the Disney Parks, but this week Mickey's been marked down to less than $12 on Amazon! Awww yeeeah.  He's bigger than you think, about 7 inches tall, and I've had the matching Minnie for over a year now. Can't wait to add Mr. Mouse to the shelf beside her.


  1. I think people will still be getting Christmas presents into the new year, so you can keep going. :-D

  2. One crappy year (too long to go into) we made our Christmas tree using our wooden clothes drying rack. It wasn't nearly as clever as any of these because we were too exhausted but it was surprisingly cheerful.

  3. I just made a batch of Christmas Crack, actually! It's good stuff.

    Love the stick tree with the old fashioned ball ornaments. I have a bunch that I used on a tree I made out of lights on the wall one year, just a zig zag of lights held up with thumb tacks that I hung the ornaments on. Looked really good, but left a bunch of holes that I then covered up with a painting! I think hanging the ornaments on something that will only leave one hole might be better....

    I made myself ridiculously happy this year with the stupidest thing. I had a leftover piece of dollar store garland that I didn't know what to do with, and a cute wooden bowl. I realized that if I had some kind of support I could make a little tree! So I made a cone out of a cereal box, stuck it in the bowl, wrapped the garland around it, and then hung some mini ornaments on it. It is adorable, it cost me nothing, and I love it.

    Keep on with the Christmas posts! Christmas until Spring! Let's do it!

    1. Tree in a bowl is SO cute I can’t stand it.

  4. In the before times a couple of guys in Cubeville (my office area in our giant work facility) always put some lights on an upside down tomato cage on top of the shelf in their cube so it could be seen by everyone in the room. It was simple and easy and adhered to the safety and decorating guidelines of Cubeville and I missed it a lot this year (I’m one of just a few in my area who continues to work from work). I’m really hoping it will be back next year.

  5. That paper tree at the end would be perfect with the previous year's wrapping paper!

    1. Previous year!? In my family wrapping paper has a ten-year minimum before retirement.

  6. Earlier I saw reminder that the 12 days of Christmas starts on Christmas, so you can keep going at least a few days into January

  7. I did the pipe tree one year - doing double duty as an advent. I can't think of the name of the game on The Price is Right, but the one with the tissue paper over little holes you "punch" through - think that.

  8. Those were so fun! Thank you for sharing all of that!
    Maureen S

  9. I'm not Jewish but I love that menorah. Very clever.

  10. Maybe you could do the zig zag tree on a ceiling? If the Command Hooks are set just so, to hold the garland and the lights!

  11. Two years ago, I wasn't feeling very Christmasy (because reasons). I couldn't bear to put up the Christmas tree I had, but I knew if I didn't have anything, I'd be even more depressed. So I took my life-size male mannequin (Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner), raised his right arm over his head (and held it that way with a pvc pipe), and then strung white twinkle lights from his upraised arm in a cone shape down to a thick circle I'd made of cardboard layers on the ground. I used binder clips to hold the strings at the bottom (the notches I made didn't work), and was able to hang ornaments (the few I hung) directly on the light strings, and placed a copper star on his fingertips. It made me happy that I'd overcome my inertia and created something weird but still Christmasy. Wish I could share a picture here.

  12. May I share a i-truly-don't-want-to-offend educational fact? You said up there that the little tree was from the Ukraine. For most Ukrainians, *The* Ukraine is sort of a "paper cut and pour lemon juice in it" type thing. Ukraine is a country, but *the* Ukraine was a region of the USSR, forcibly and unjustly taken by an oppressive government. No one is offended by it, but it's just a bit jarring on the ears (and nerves).

    Please, please believe I say this as educational information, not a complaint or critique. As a fellow Gen X-er, I grew up calling it *The* until I joined a Ukrainian family!

    1. Thank you so much for pointing this out, definitely something I needed to know! I'm going to take out the "the" right now. <3

  13. With the right additions—that translucent tree could be a UFO tree. Put the UFO at the top, maybe a cow somewhere in the middle...


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