13 Christmas Tree Alternatives That Are Anything But Basic

christmas tree alternatives


Aside from the Polish, who hang theirs upside down, the Christmas tree has pretty much looked the same for centuries. It's usually a pine variation embellished with twinkling lights and shiny orbs that most often takes center stage in a living room or in front of a window. While we love a good star-topped fir, we'd be remiss not to explore other options.

Whether you're limited on space, doing your part to avoid tree waste, or just looking for a holiday refresh, we've scoured the web for alternatives on the traditional tree. From modern installations worthy of an art gallery to rustic upcycling, these stylish Christmas tree alternatives are too good to pass up. 

01 of 13

Reclaimed Wood Tree

christmas tree alternatives


If you have a stack of unused wood in your backyard (or if you're just a short ride from the hardware store), you have yourself the perfect medium for an alternative Christmas tree DIY.

Attaching graduating lengths of wooden 2x4s around a center dowel gives you the silhouette of a traditional fir, with a much cooler look. You can leave it minimal or decorate it with lights and ornaments like you would a real Christmas tree.

02 of 13

Floating Ornament Tree

Christmas Tree alternatives

Design: @miss_fantoush, Photo: @susielowestudio

Worth of an art gallery spot, this floating ornament Christmas tree silhouette is modern and so creative. To recreate the look, hang ornaments from clear fishing wire and attach them either to your ceiling or an overhead base. For even more visual interest, play with a variety of sizes, shapes, and ornament finishes, like this gold composition.

03 of 13

Color Blocked Christmas Tree

christmas tree alternatives


Believe it or not, you don't need anything remotely Christmas or tree-shaped in your home to get into the holiday spirit. This shelf setup uses a collection of green household items and contrasting white items to create a color-blocked version of a traditional tree.

Placing items in a creative way to create a tall triangle gives the feeling of a tree, and red additions act as ornaments.

04 of 13

Upcycled Christmas Tree

christmas tree alternative


If you look hard enough, you can always find items to stack into a shape that resembles a Christmas tree. We love the use of tree stands to create this sculptural composition—the irony is pretty cool too—and the addition of candles makes it feel festive in a sophisticated way.

05 of 13

Cactus Christmas Tree

christmas tree alternatives


Whether or not you're celebrating the holidays in a desert, swapping the traditional pine for a cactus is whimsical, fun, and oh so Instaworthy. Bring the quirk via real cacti or DIY your own with foam and garland.

Decorate it with ornaments, tinsel, and lights for a traditional twist. The hardest part will be deciding if you want a green Christmas cactus or a vintage-inspired silver one.

06 of 13

Optical Illusion Christmas Tree

christmas tree alternative


If you rummage through loose odds and ends, we're positive you'll find a plethora of stackable items in all shades of green. Incidentally, that's all you need to fake a Christmas tree all December long.

To recreate the look, stack books, trays, and boxes from largest to smallest, and for the magical part, place them against a mirror to create the illusion of a pyramid. The final is just abstract enough that you're liable to keep it up all year long.

07 of 13

Cardboard Christmas Tree

alternative christmas tree


Surely, you can put that pile of recyclable Amazon boxes you have to good use, right? Enter the best way to turn that cardboard trash into Christmas treasure. Sharpen your box cutters and Google some 3D cardboard cutouts to recreate the look. And the best part is you can paint your silhouette in any color to match your home's aesthetic.

08 of 13

Antler Christmas Tree

alternative christmas tree


Whether you're taking the rustic route or you want to pay homage to the Rudolphs and Prancers of the world, this antler branch tree is fun and creative. Recreate the look with cardboard cutouts, or if you're feeling glam, try realistic-looking antlers.

09 of 13

Rope Ladder Christmas Tree

Christmas tree alternatives


This DIY-friendly project is sure to get you climbing to the top of the cool chain. Resembling a rope ladder, this wood and rope piece with 2x4s hanging from smallest to largest resembles the shape of a traditional Christmas tree, and a collection of ornaments hanging from holes drilled in the wood feels like a cool twist on an age-old tradition.

10 of 13

Sensory Christmas Tree

alternative christmas tree


Sure, this painting is technically designed to aid your child's development (think: counting ornaments, training the senses, and teaching fine motor skills), but this adorable Christmas tree art is cool enough to earn precious wall space in our adult apartment. Painted on a clean piece of cardboard with ornaments hanging from shiny pegs, this star-topped tree is a delight for all senses young and old.

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Repurposed Christmas Tree

alternative Christmas tree


Hauling a huge pine home from your local Christmas tree lot can be daunting, and truthfully, most of us have enough greenery at home already. If you ask us, any type of greenery should technically be eligible to be repurposed into a Christmas tree. If you have potted plants throughout your home, all it takes is a few festive ornaments to transform it into a holiday tree.

12 of 13

Edible Christmas Tree

alternative christmas tree


Why should your Christmas tree only be a treat for the eyes? This edible Christmas tree is both beautiful and a tasty take on the traditional fir.

To recreate this for your own holiday table, bake a handful of star-shaped cookies in a variety of sizes and stack them from largest to smallest, attaching them with green frosting. Embellish your cookie tree with berries for a take on edible ornaments.

13 of 13

Spiral Christmas Tree

alternative christmas tree


This minimal Christmas tree alternative is not only cool and beautiful, but it also doesn't skimp on the holiday spirit. Wire twisted into a spiral shape creates the silhouette, vines or leaves give you a natural element, and twinkle lights bring the nostalgia and cheer of the holiday season.

If you want to add color, embellish your sculpture with ornaments in any hue.