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30 Alternative Christmas Tree Ideas To Try This Year

I love Christmas to the core. It’s my favorite time of year. And getting the Christmas tree has always been a big deal in our family. The annual argument over the actual height of the ceiling is part of the tradition.

“If we cut another inch off the bottom, then…”

“No! We aren’t cutting anything off! I’m telling you it will fit!”

Ahem, yes. We’re that household.

The author standing in a field in front of a giant Christmas tree
Look, I’m a reasonable person, except where Christmas trees are concerned.
Then logic and spatial reasoning go out the window.

But circumstances change, and life happens. Sometimes a traditional Christmas tree just isn’t in the holiday plans. Maybe a live tree isn’t in the budget this year, or you’ll be traveling during the holidays; perhaps you have a newborn, and the mere thought of a tree is exhausting, or you’ve opted to keep things simple this year.

Whatever the reason, we’ve got plenty of non-traditional Christmas tree ideas to help you make your holiday merry and bright.

Live Non-Traditional Christmas Tree Options

Okay, so you’ve opted out of the big, fussy Christmas tree, but you still want something green. We’ve got a few inexpensive options for you.

1. Rosemary Shrub

Rosemary shrub decorated for Christmas
Your Christmas tree will smell amazing.

Rosemary shrubs trimmed into Christmas trees make an easy alternative Christmas tree that serves double duty. Once the holidays are over, you’ve got a useful culinary plant that can live in your home or outside when the temperatures rise.

Plus, there’s no harm in pruning a few sprigs off – after all, rosemary has some wonderful uses.

2. Norfolk Island Pine

Norfolk Island pine decorated for Christmas
My little Norfolk Island pine is all dressed up for the holidays.

These ancient conifers pop up in stores every year and make an excellent living Christmas tree for anyone short on space. (Skip the ones coated in glitter.)

Their sturdy branches hold the weight of lights and ornaments well. I decorate my Norfolk Island pine every year to bring a bit of extra cheer to the den.

When the holidays are over, Norfolk Island pines make excellent houseplants. You can even move them outside for the summer. When December rolls around again, you’ll have your little Christmas tree at the ready again.

Related Reading: How To Care For A Norfolk Island Pine – The Perfect Living Christmas Tree

3. Dwarf Evergreens

Dwarf evergreen in small pot
They’re so wee! Plant it outside in the spring.

Yet another popular option for those that don’t want a giant tree is dwarf evergreens, mainly for their size. You can find them as small as 6″ high up to several feet high, giving you plenty of options depending on your space and budget.

4. Decorate a Houseplant

Houseplant decorated with Christmas ornaments.

Decorate a sturdy houseplant that you already have. With a string of fairy lights and a few small glass baubles, you’ll have a Christmas tree in a pinch. A few plants that make great options are snake plants, monstera, and pothos.

Related Reading: How to Keep A Poinsettia Alive For Years & Turn It Red Again

DIY Christmas Tree Options

The shape of a Christmas tree is pretty easy to duplicate with all kinds of household objects and things found in your backyard.

With a glue gun, tape or nails and a little creativity, you can have a beautiful Christmas tree. Whether your non-traditional tree will last for the season or for years to come is up to you and how much effort you want to put in.

5. Wood Pallet Tree

Use pieces from a wood pallet to construct this sweet minimalist tree. For a natural look, stain the wood or you can let the kids paint the tree with craft paints.

Christmas tree made from scrap wood

6. Hanging Branch Tree

Use twine or rope and branches to create the outline of a Christmas tree. Hang your tree on the wall to free up floor space. Use driftwood or raw wood and decorate your tree with your own ornament collection or create natural ornaments.

hanging Christmas tree made of branches

7. Wine Cork Christmas Tree

Save corks from each bottle you drink throughout the year and create this cute little wine cork tree. Add some fairy lights for a little twinkle.

Christmas tree made ouf of wine corks

8. Driftwood Christmas Tree

If you’re longing to be at the beach this Christmas, consider a driftwood Christmas tree. Make this tree by drilling holes through the middle of driftwood pieces and stacking them on a wooden dowel or metal rod inserted into a log.

Christmas tree made from driftwood sticks

9. Scrap Lumber Tree

If you’ve got a woodworker in the house or you’ve just finished a big DIY project, this tree is a great way to put scrap lumber to good use. Use thumbtacks to hang ornaments from your tree.

Scrap lumber Christmas tree covered in Christmas ornaments

10. Nut Christmas Tree

We’re all a little nuts this time of year. Why not hot glue a selection of nuts to a styrofoam cone or cardstock rolled into a cone?

You can keep it simple and natural or dress up your tree with fairy lights, beaded garland or bows.

Small Christmas tree made out of nuts.

11. Pasta Tree

Nearly every mom has a Christmas ornament made out of dried pasta and glitter. Why not make a matching Christmas tree?

You can keep it simple or really glam them up. Hot glue shell pasta or bowtie pasta to a cone made of cardstock. Then get creative decorating your tiny trees.

Christmas trees made with dried pasta

12. Pinecone Christmas Tree

If you’ve got pinecones on your property, this tree is a great way to put them to good use. Hot glue a stack of pinecones to resemble the shape of a tree. Add cinnamon sticks and nuts to create a natural look.

Related Reading: 25 Festive Pine Cone Decorations, Ornaments & Crafts

Pinecones stacked to resemble Christmas tree

13. Big Branch Tree

Cut smaller branches of raw wood into assorted lengths, then drill a hole in the middle of each piece. Assemble your tree with a wood dowel or metal rod. This makes a great outdoor decoration as well.

Large Christmas tree made from raw wood branches

14. Button Tree

Cover a styrofoam cone in tin foil, then grab that old cookie tin filled with your grandmother’s button collection and some pins. Pin colorful buttons to your tree and enjoy!

vintage-inspired Christmas tree made with buttons

15. Yarn Trees

Wrap colorful yarn around paper cones and then decorate your trees with pompoms, bows or wood beads. Using a hot glue gun, add glue to the cone as you wind to keep the yarn in place. Make a whole tiny Christmas tree forest!

Making yarn Christmas trees with paper cones

16. Cardboard Christmas

If you’ve got lots of Amazon boxes from all of your Christmas shopping, you can reuse them by making cardboard Christmas trees.

Trace your Christmas tree on the cardboard and cut it out. Now use that tree as a template to cut a second one. Make a slit up through the middle of one of the trees ending about halfway. Now make a slit down through the top of the other tree, again ending halfway. Slide the two trees together using the slits.

A tiny forest of Christmas trees made of cardboard

17. Kid-friendly Felt Tree

Generally speaking, Christmas trees and toddlers don’t mix. Unless you make a felt tree with felt ornaments. Perhaps you could make a felt tree just for your kiddo to play with.

A felt Christmas tree with felt ornaments made for a small child

Keep It Simple and Quick

Whether you need a Christmas tree last minute or you don’t want a lot of fuss, these alternative Christmas tree options take mere moments to put together.

18. Beaded Garland

Grab the tape and a long string beaded garland or outline the shape of a tree on the wall. You’ll save floor space and have a tree as big or as small as you want.

Christmas tree made by shaping a string of beads on teh wall

19. Or Ribbon

Green ribbon is used to make a Christmas tree outline on the wall

20. Ladder Christmas Tree

This ladder strung with lights, and hanging Christmas baubles makes for a stunning alternative to the traditional evergreen.

Ladder hung with dozens of Christmas ornaments
I’m just going to suggest that this might not be the best tree for you if you have cats.

Head to the garage and grab the step ladder. It’s the perfect Christmas tree shape! You can easily decorate it with lights, garland and ornaments.

21. Ladder Shelf

Slide boards across the steps of a step ladder to create shelves where you can place your gifts.

Step ladder made into a shelf and decorated for Christmas
Once the holidays are over keep this handy ladder shelf up, and use it for books.

22. Twig Tree

A quick trip to the backyard or garden with a pair of pruning shears in hand will result in a simple and natural Christmas tree that’s easy to hang ornaments from.

Christmas tree made from bare twigs

23. Evergreen Boughs

Cut a few evergreen boughs and place them in a vase or jar to bring a bit of fresh greenery inside and for an instant tabletop tree.

Evergreen boughs in a vase

24. Construction Paper Tree

Cut out strips of paper to look like branches, and cut out circles to make ornaments. Tape your tree up and go enjoy a less stressful holiday.

Construction paper cut outs to look like a tree

25. Wall Tree

Use bits of premade garland or evergreen twigs tied or glued to cardboard pieces to create the outline of a Christmas tree on your wall. Place presents underneath your wall tree and keep your space neat and tidy this year.

Wall tree made from pine boughs

26. Hanging Branch Tree

Hang freshly sprigs of evergreen from a branch using twine to create a wonderfully smelling wall tree. You can hang Christmas lights behind the branches to create a soft, magical glow.

hanging evergreen boughs with Christmas lights

27. Wrapping Paper Wall Tree

Cut strips of colorful wrapping paper and tape them to the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Strips of wrapping paper taped to teh wall in the shape of a Christmas tree

28. Present Stacks

If you’re all out of time and options and you still want a tree, stack your gifts in a Christmas-tree-shaped pile and top it all off with a bow.

A pile of Christmas presents stacked in the shape of a tree

29. A Bookish Christmas Tree

Grab a few books of different sizes and stack them in the shape of a tree. Drape your tree with lights and enjoy.

A stack of books to resemble a Christmas tree

30. Wine Bottle Tree

This makes a great last-minute Christmas tree; fill an empty wine bottle with fairy lights and voila – an instant tree!

A wine bottle with a string of fairy lights in it to use as a last minute Christmas tree.

More Festive Ideas

Now that we’ve got the creative juices flowing you’re sure to find the perfect Christmas tree for your space this year.

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35 Nature-Inspired Homemade Christmas Decorations

12 Christmas Plants For A Festive Indoor Garden

25 Magical Pine Cone Christmas Crafts, Decorations & Ornaments

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Tracey Besemer

Hey there, my name is Tracey. I’m the editor-in-chief here at Rural Sprout.

Many of our readers already know me from our popular Sunday newsletters. (You are signed up for our newsletters, right?) Each Sunday, I send a friendly missive from my neck of the woods in Pennsylvania. It’s a bit like sitting on the front porch with a friend, discussing our gardens over a cup of tea.

Originally from upstate NY, I’m now an honorary Pennsylvanian, having lived here for the past 18 years.

I grew up spending weekends on my dad’s off-the-grid homestead, where I spent much of my childhood roaming the woods and getting my hands dirty.

I learned how to do things most little kids haven’t done in over a century.

Whether it was pressing apples in the fall for homemade cider, trudging through the early spring snows of upstate NY to tap trees for maple syrup, or canning everything that grew in the garden in the summer - there were always new adventures with each season.

As an adult, I continue to draw on the skills I learned as a kid. I love my Wi-Fi and knowing pizza is only a phone call away. And I’m okay with never revisiting the adventure that is using an outhouse in the middle of January.

These days, I tend to be almost a homesteader.

I take an eclectic approach to homesteading, utilizing modern convenience where I want and choosing the rustic ways of my childhood as they suit me.

I’m a firm believer in self-sufficiency, no matter where you live, and the power and pride that comes from doing something for yourself.

I’ve always had a garden, even when the only space available was the roof of my apartment building. I’ve been knitting since age seven, and I spin and dye my own wool as well. If you can ferment it, it’s probably in my pantry or on my kitchen counter. And I can’t go more than a few days without a trip into the woods looking for mushrooms, edible plants, or the sound of the wind in the trees.

You can follow my personal (crazy) homesteading adventures on Almost a Homesteader and Instagram as @aahomesteader.

Peace, love, and dirt under your nails,