Alternative Christmas tree ideas – 18 unique ideas for this festive focal point

Rethink your evergreen with our quirky and stylish alternative Christmas tree ideas

Three examples of alternative Christmas tree ideas. Twig tree with gold decorations, red paper tree, tinsel tree.
(Image credit: Jan Baldwin | Simon Bevan | Rocket St. George)

If you want to throw out the rulebook and have truly unique Christmas tree in your home, then our alternative Christmas tree ideas are for you. 

Of course, there is nothing wrong with a classic look for your Christmas tree ideas, a tall green tree, decorated with a bevvy of red and gold baubles and a twinkle of fairy lights will always be magical and timeless – but if you fancy a change, there are many ways to reimagine this festive tradition.

Whether you’re looking for a tree that’s larger than life in its decor, or a tree that’s not even a tree at all, our alternative Christmas trees will make you rethink the evergreen for your Christmas decorating ideas

From off-the-wall to totally enchanting, read on to explore our curated collection of creative and inspiring alternative Christmas tree ideas.

Alternative Christmas tree ideas

Rudolph’s unorthodox red nose has nothing on these alternative Christmas tree ideas. 

1. Make your Christmas lights the star of the show

Light string Christmas tree

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

It seems like many of us are getting creative with string lights this season, as we have seen many viral online videos of people creating this clever Christmas tree look at home.

Whether you're tight on space, or simply want to mix things up with your Christmas decor this year, a string light tree can create an alluring, magical effect. 

Simply purchase a set of string lights and position them in a zig-zag tree shape using clear hooks, or opt for a ready-made design, like this Indoor Outdoor Magical String Light Tree from Cox & Cox.

Dani Taylor, product & creative director at Cox & Cox states, 'crafted with shaped metal boughs, and easy to hang from a hook on your wall, it can be displayed either inside or outside the home to striking effect. Stand it alone in your entrance hall or porch to welcome guests, or as the main attraction teamed with an array of decorations.'

Hang some beautiful ornaments near the lights and add a stack of presents underneath for the perfect finishing touch.

2. Enhance your tree with pretty flowers

Minimalist, white christmas decor with striking hydrangea christmas tree

(Image credit: Rowen Homes)

Florals are not only just for spring and summer, and if you want to transform your Christmas tree into a magical and impactful Christmas bouquet, then we have the best alternative Christmas tree idea for you. 

As shown here by the clever creatives at Rowen Homes, this Christmas tree has been adorned with faux Hydrangea stems, creating a unique, stand-out look. 

There are so many elegant faux flowers out there to choose from that you can use to decorate your Christmas tree, creating a truly beautiful, blooming effect.

Check out the viral video of the show-stopping hydrangea Christmas tree from Rowen Homes below, featuring over 100 ivory faux hydrangeas placed throughout.

3. Fashion a tree out of tinsel

Orange and black tinsel tree with baubles

(Image credit: Rockett St George)

For a playful, retro look, why not create a sparkly tree design from tinsel! Instead of draping the sparkly strands around Christmas tree branches, pin the tinsel to the wall in the shape of a fir instead. 

Before you start, be kind to the planet and make sure you opt for eco-friendly tinsel made from recycled PVC plastic. 

For expert guidance on how to create this look at home, Lucy St George, co-founder of Rockett St George takes us through her step by steps.

'Start from the top and position each length of tinsel in a chevron shape, building up layers to recreate the classic branch shape of a Christmas tree. Pair this with a couple of strands of vertical tinsel for the tree trunk and voila, you have a unique and fabulous Christmas tree unlike any other. Double-sided sticky tape or small pins both work well to assemble the tree on the wall. Tie baubles around the tinsel and add a beautiful star on the top for the perfect, festive flourish.'

4. Dress up your house plants

Christmas tree cactus, silver baubles

(Image credit: Lechuza)

It is fair to say, many of us have gone houseplant mad over the last few years, so why not make the most out of your indoor jungle and dress up your plant collection with some merry festive decorations?

From giant cacti, to palms, monsters, and more, all can be draped with garlands and pretty decorations, creating an alternative, festive statement throughout the home in a thoroughly modern and sustainable way.

The holidays are a time for family, friends, and lots of fun,' says Zeesham Haider from Greenry Enthusiast. 'But they’re also a time for stress, especially when it comes to finding the perfect Christmas tree. If you’re tired of the same old thing, why not try a cactus, palm tree, or bamboo – just make sure to decorate it with lights and ornaments that are safe for the plant.'

5. Let imaginations run wild with an eclectic wall

Collage on the wall in the shape of a Christmas tree

(Image credit: Stars for Europe)

Choosing quirky objects for your decorations and Christmas tree topper ideas is one thing, but using them to make the tree itself is quite another. 

Transform a bare wall into an extra special festive display using a unique mix of found objects throughout the home. Think vintage plates, baubles, plant pots, and picture frames in different sizes, patterns, and colors, but stick to a traditional triangular shape of a Christmas tree to emphasize the festive mood.

'With this homemade Christmas tree made of poinsettias and a mismatched collection of nostalgic Christmas decorations, there are no limits to your imagination,' explains Dr. Susanne Lux of Stars for Europe, a marketing initiative for poinsettia growers. 'This creative wall display is a space-saving solution for anyone who wants an original alternative to the classic Christmas tree.'

6. Create a Christmas book tree


♬ Nutcracker: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairly(845241) - ogsogs

For those with an impressive home library, why not use your extensive book collection to create a fun, book Christmas tree?

‘Last year we crafted our Christmas ‘tree’ out of stacked books,’ says Angus Buchanan, creative director at Buchanan Studio. ‘Starting with a wide base and getting narrower up to a single book at the top, you can make it as petite or as colossal as you see fit.’

As shown above by alistofreads on TikTok, simply stack your books and decorate them with lights and decorations of your choice, et voila!

7. Build a rustic tree from bare logs

Wooden Christmas tree

(Image credit: Loaf)

'We love the raw simplicity of a Christmas tree made from bare logs,' says Lucy Searle, global editor-in-chief at Homes & Gardens. 'The rough textures and gnarly shapes look striking decorated sparsely with mercury glass baubles, simple glass tealights, and a black tin star. If you fancy trying your hand at your own bare-branch Christmas tree, go foraging throughout the year and stockpile driftwood and fallen tree branches in a variety of different lengths, but aim generally for the same uniform width.'

To finish off the pared-back look, wrap presents in simple brown Kraft paper tied up with tartan ribbon and cream braid.

8. Opt for outdoor sparkle with a light-up tree

Tree of lights, star on top

(Image credit: Graham & Green)

Alternative Christmas tree ideas work just as well outdoors as they do indoors. 

'Fairy lights are a foolproof way to cast a magical glow across the Yuletide season, so twinkly lights in the shape of a Christmas tree are a win/win decoration we adore,' adds Jennifer Ebert, digital editor at Homes & Gardens.

If you’ve got the space, this LED Outdoor Tree Light from Graham & Green will add masses of festive twinkle to your garden or patio. It’s also the perfect solution if you don’t have trees or shrubs to decorate with strings of fairy lights or bulbs.

9. Reflect your hobbies in your decorations

Alternative Christmas tree ideas with a colorful llama decoration

(Image credit: David Giles)

When choosing a Christmas tree theme for this year, the most important thing to consider is how it channels your personality. If you’re less into robins and reindeer than you are llamas and octopuses, pick Christmas ornament ideas that reflect your unique tastes. 

‘Over the past few years, we’ve seen homeowners have more fun with their decorations, as they opt for more color, cheeky characters, and novelty decorations such as sprouts, and even decorating as per their favorite hobby – be it baking, bee-keeping or gardening,’ says Daisy Coombes, Marketing Manager at Sass & Belle

10. Christmas trees don’t have to be conifers

Alternative Christmas tree ideas with a non-pine tree with silver streamers running from its widespread branches

(Image credit: James Merrell)

If you’re pondering how to decorate a tree for your Christmas living room, you’re most likely looking for tips on stacking tinsel and baubles onto the spiny branches of a traditional conifer. 

While pines, spruces and firs are the traditional Christmas tree favorites, why not pick a variety that’s magical in a completely different way? In this example, a willow tree with lateral branches has been painted silver and decorated with silver streamers, creating a winter wonderland beneath its canopy. 

11. Drop the needles and go for bare branches

Alternative Christmas tree ideas with a white twig tree with no leaves and pinecone decorations

(Image credit: Mel Yates)

Twig trees are another alternative to the traditional Christmas tree – they don’t necessarily have to be bare conifers, as all sorts of leaf-less trees can be dressed up with decorations to create an effect that is at once wintry and festive. 

This example blends the natural world with design touches, as a white-painted miniature tree is decorated with a mixture of pine cones and gleaming gold decorations. 

12. Choose a colored tree

Alternative Christmas tree ideas with a tree shape made from red, partially open parasols

(Image credit: Simon Bevan)

In winter, we’re always grateful for evergreen trees – but for a Christmas with a more creative touch, give the color wheel a spin. ‘For the brave, we love bright pink Christmas trees hung upside down from the ceiling, such as the one seen in our restaurant Le Bab in Bucharest,’ says Angus Buchanan. 

If you’re on the hunt for an artificial tree, consider conifer-style trees in a whole rainbow of colors, from icy whites to festive reds. In this instance, the layers of a conifer tree have been mimicked with a tower of bright red parasols, opened to varying degrees, for a fun take on the enduring triangular shape. 

13. Make a tree out of wreaths

Alternative Christmas tree ideas with a tree shape made from wreaths on a wall

(Image credit: Carolyn Barber)

What’s better than one Christmas decor favorite? Two, of course. Create a festive decoration powerhouse by using Christmas wreath ideas to create an alternative Christmas tree. 

Running again with the idea that the stepped triangle shape is the most instantly recognizable trait of the traditional Christmas tree, this minimalist example recreates this form through carefully positioned wreaths of different sizes hung from the wall of the home, with presents even piled beneath it. 

14. Center a grotto around a miniature tree

Alternative Christmas tree ideas with a miniature Christmas tree and Scandi-style seating area built around it in a stairwell

(Image credit: Max Attenborough)

A 10ft spruce isn’t for everyone – for more low-key festivities, a miniature tree can be just the right fit. They don’t, however, need to feel any less special than their taller counterparts, and can still be at the heart of a space where you and your guests gather. 

Prop them up on a platform for a bit of height, finish them off with statement Christmas tree skirt ideas and create a cozy seating nook around them festooned with blankets and cushions – this will result in a romantic, intimate festive corner for smaller parties. 

15. Create a deconstructed tree from collected branches 

Alternative Christmas tree ideas with a bunch of silver twigs displayed in a vase and decorated with gold leaves

(Image credit: Jan Baldwin)

Full trees may be great fun, but they’re not the only festive foliage arrangements you can tuck presents under at Christmas time. Think outside the box and take a deconstructed approach instead. 

‘For a more statement look, perfect for spaces such as a hallway, a large vase with a branch and baubles can give a minimal but festive feel,’ says Holly Gannon, design manager at Milc Interiors

This contemporary design is a great way to mix modernity into farmhouse Christmas tree ideas and can work both as the central festive statement in your home, or as a series of side ‘trees’ in addition to the main event.  

16. Let it snow with a frozen effect

Alternative Christmas tree ideas with frozen effect branches and silvery decorations

(Image credit: Jon Day)

Dreaming of a white Christmas? Take notes from your outdoor Christmas decor ideas and embrace the magic of snowfall on your indoor tree. 

Choose an artificial tree with a frosted effect to effortlessly transport your guests into a snowy forest, or sprinkle artificial snow across the top and around the base of your real tree for a more authentic illusion. 

Be inspired by this stylish example and keep the decor to a palette of icy whites, silvers, and blues for a full-on frozen feel. 

17. Get a surreal feel with oversized decorations

Alternative Christmas tree ideas with oversized red baubles

(Image credit: Mark Luscombe-Whyte)

Bigger isn’t always better, but when it comes to Christmas, you have license to get as grand as you can handle. Dainty decorations aren’t for everyone, so why not decide to take a slightly more surreal route and go oversized? Stars as big as supernovas and baubles as big as your head will add a fresh take on Christmas decor with a side of humor and are particularly impactful when all kept in the same aesthetic vain, like in this example. 

Position your baubles carefully, and this strategy will also help make a Christmas tree look fuller, helping to fill in the gaps and push branches closer together as the decorations take up the excess space. Just remember to make sure everything is light enough to stay off the floor. 

18.  Get arty with a photographic tree

Alternative Christmas tree ideas with temporary wallpaper depicting a photograph of a pine tree

(Image credit: Polly Wreford)

Is your Christmas hallway in need of an update this year? For a wholly contemporary approach, dispense with your tree’s third dimension altogether. 

With one foot firmly in the art gallery, this home’s innovative approach to Christmas tree installation consists entirely of a pinned, life-sized photographic print of a forest. Instead of chopping down the tree at the heart of the frame, the print acts as something of a portal to the forest, and the tree can be decorated with the use of stickers and more attached to the paper. 

What can I use instead of a Christmas tree?

There are so many ideas for alternative Christmas trees if you don’t want a real (or faux) conifer. It might be that you haven’t got the space or you simply want to express your festive decor in a quirky, non-traditional or bespoke way.

The best alternatives are ones that either plays a riff on the idea of gathering around a natural monument, or ones that think entirely outside the box. 

Conifer branches or even bare winter twigs can be arranged in a large vase and decorated as a subtle allusion to the Christmas tree and decorated subtly with lights and simple decorations. Alternatively, think about how you can recreate the classic triangular shape of a Christmas tree using objects such as books, wreaths, lights or even a stack of presents. 

Otherwise, the shops are filled with ready-made alternative trees for you to bring out year after year, from slick, metal tree sculptures to Scandi-style plywood designs and even reusable sticker trees for the quickest way to decorate the holiday home.

How can I make my house Christmassy without a tree?

While it makes for a great central focus to your home over the holidays, a Christmas tree isn’t the be all and end all of festive decor. You can use any of the suggestions above to create that focal point in place of a tree, while incorporating a wider range of Christmas decor ideas is always important to making a home feel Christmassy, even when you have a tree. Ensure your walls are filled with wreaths and garlands, your dinner table is festooned with festive elements, and turn your fireplace into a cozy grotto fit for Santa.

How can I display my Christmas ornaments without a tree?

If you’ve opted for an alternative tree or a DIY creation that needs minimal decoration, what to do with the mountain of colorful baubles, trimmings and tinsel you have leftover? 

Try hanging pretty baubles from lengths of ribbon down a staircase or along a mantelpiece or use them in lieu of place cards by simply adding a small bow and a sprig of greenery. 

Or, fill a vase with a cluster of beautiful baubles for an easy festive touch and entwine unused tinsel, fairy lights and tree trimmings into garlands to finish off your festive tablescaping.

Ailis Brennan
Contributing Editor

Ailis started out at British GQ, where a month of work experience turned into 18 months of working on all sorts of projects, writing about everything from motorsport to interiors, and helping to put together the GQ Food & Drink Awards. She then spent three years at the London Evening Standard, covering restaurants and bars. After a period of freelancing, writing about food, drink and homes for publications including Conde Nast Traveller, Luxury London and Departures, she started at Homes & Gardens as a Digital Writer, allowing her to fully indulge her love of good interior design. She is now a fully fledged food PR but still writes for Homes & Gardens as a contributing editor.

With contributions from