The Perfect Alternative Christmas Tree

According to the history of the Christmas tree is a rather long one finding a root (see what I did there?) in numerous cultures over hundreds of years. In fact, “long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.” But it is Germany that is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition we now know. In the 16th century devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some were pyramids of wood while others were evergreens or even candles.  (FUN FACT: Martin Luther, the 16th-century Protestant reformer, first added lighted candles to a tree. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens and to recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the parlor and wired its branches with lighted candles.)

Norman Rockwell Christmas Tree

Illustration: Trimming The Tree, Norman Rockwell – date unknown

Ask most any American and the answer you are likely to get regarding the perfect Christmas tree is a Fraser Fir or Douglas Fir standing just over 6′ tall and about 53″ wide. In later years perhaps the answer would change slightly to keep the size but switch out the real needles for PVC blend ones that stay green, well, forEVER! But with the growth of the tiny house movement and the backlash against the traditional, consumer-driven, Christmas holiday alternative trees have become more and more popular. Ranging from the “simply shrunken” tabletop firs to the garish revolving, pink shimmer trees, the choices are numerous and each one is a space-saving solution for the tiny house set that allows tradition to thrive on a 1:4 scale!

Wall Decals

The simplest answer to the Christmas tree dilemma is perhaps the least expensive and – some might argue – the least creative. All you need is a little bit of blank wall to put up a vinyl tree decal. In the last few years the sticker decals have become increasingly popular as they are suitable for smooth surfaces, appliances, windows, and more. They can be used in a tight entryway or even behind a current piece of furniture. If you think they lack depth just remember. If you’ve been a good boy or girl it will soon be enhanced by presents! You can find a number of tree decals on



Cardboard Tree 

When I was growing up we had a family cat. He lived indoors and I am convinced he behaved so well from January to November just so he could win the affection of the house and mentally prepare for December. For as soon as the Christmas tree went up he made light work of the tinsel, glass ornaments, light cords, etc. He even forgot he was house broken and treated the trunk of the tree to a little nitrogen boost! Why not avoid such loss and go with a cheap and easy cardboard Christmas tree? Varying in size, style, and even color, these recyclable trees are great for a number of occasions and if presented well can evoke the holiday spirit as well as any fir at the local lot. You say you don’t want to pay the money for material you have lying around the house? How about a cardboard tree you can Do-It-Yourself?

Milagro Tree

Perhaps you don’t celebrate Christmas with a tree adorned with Christian symbols or even Hallmark memories. That shouldn’t stop you from decorating your Ho-Ho-Home! A number of people collect small metal charms traditional in Hispanic cultures known as milagros or “miracles.” This season why not get festive with a milagro tree handcrafted in rustic iron and topped with a star? Available exclusively at sundance.

The Light Tree

So you have an electrical outlet but you don’t have floor space? Why not try one of the prettiest and most affordable Christmas tree alternative? Dubbed “the Light Tree” it can be framed in any size you like and can be decorated in almost any way you like. Little more than the outline of a classic Christmas tree using some sort of interior Christmas lights, the light tree casts a festive, ambient glow on your tiny house and provides a magical way to start off the holidays.

Christmas Light Tree

photo courtesy of Christmas On A Budget

Pallet Tree

We’ve seen Adirondack chairs. We’ve seen end tables and side boards and footstools and hanging shelves and wine cases and bed frames and just about anything else that calls for wood. They are pallet designs and they are more popular each year. If you have some pallets laying around or just love that shabby chic, recycled look, why not try a pallet tree this year? With its 2-D, borderline 3-D design, and limited need or use of floor space this tree is just right for the retrofit crowd. The coolest thing though is how limitless the tree can be. Each rung of the tree can be scrolled or tapered or angled. You can stack “branches”. You can paint on the “branches.” You can inset LED rope lighting or use backlight. You can string ornaments on them. They are truly versatile and easy enough to build for anyone with the slightest bit of hammer and nail experience.

Wood Pallet Tree

photo courtesy of Something For Nothing Blog

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

Colin’s Coastal Cabin

Here’s a little bit of my tiny house building story and some of the things I learned in the process. I hope this information will help or possibly inspire a few future tiny house builders, in the same way I was greatly supported by all you guys who shared your stories before me. The best things about this project were the support I received from friends and family, and getting to learn so many new things this year.

completed cabin

Before I started I had a little bit of experience building. I’d built a shed or two and some homemade plywood furniture. Until a year ago, the stuff I built was almost totally designed from a functional perspective. But a few months before I started my project I had the good fortune to work on a backyard shed with my friend Steve, who taught me all about using salvaged and old materials. Continue reading

Dan’s Lithuanian Small Home

by Daniel Combellick

*New Photos added

The house began with ordering 60 logs from the forest service, which they delivered to the site. Common Fir. Some of these I used to build a small hut, which were all hand-hewn, along with some Birch logs taken from my forest. I lived in this small 12 X 16 ft hut the entire time I was building the house.

The foundation was dug by hand, and filled the same… this was one of the three procedures on the house I had help with – the other two were installing the metal roof, and hanging the drywall – besides these all work was completed by me. In my shed there was no electricity or water – the water I brought in containers in a wheel barrow, or on a sled in the winter – from a nearby farmers well, the old kind, drawing the water with a bucket on a chain and dumping into the old milk containers I used for storage. My light was from headlamps, and kerosene lanterns. I had a propane stove, an outhouse, and an outside bathing shelter.

cabin on the lake

When I had completed my lumber take-off I sent the logs to a mill and had them sawn. Then, I commenced building. I was alone almost every day, this is a very remote spot, it is very quiet. Sometimes the loudest sound above that of my tools was the flap of a bird’s wings overhead. Did you know crows are very noisy fliers? Continue reading