The Perfect Alternative Christmas Tree

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.)

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]

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Amy - December 10, 2014 Reply

I love trees on the wall. For several years now we’ve put a ceiling to floor piece of 3 ft wide paper and draw our tree. The kids color it. Sometimes they draw ornaments, usually they print ornament color pages through out the season to color, cut and tape to the tree. We attach it to the wall with command strips.

    Andrew M. Odom - December 10, 2014 Reply

    What a great idea Amy. I love involving the whole family no matter what the age!

Beth - December 10, 2014 Reply

How about decorating a tree outside, if you have one? Or plant one if you don’t!

    Andrew M. Odom - December 10, 2014 Reply

    That is certainly a fine idea Beth but with a 3-year old in the house it is extra nice to have something they can be more intimate with even when the weather outside is frightful! HAHAHA

Timaree - December 10, 2014 Reply

Cute ideas even for some who just don’t want to do the whole big deal. I end up at my daughter’s for Christmas so only want a small bit of decorations at my own home which is small but not tiny – yet.

Joyce - December 10, 2014 Reply

I have seen live decorated potted table top trees less than 18 inch tall, garland and coat hanger crafted trees for table tops as well as ceramic or cloth trees again for table tops. With animation videos and the TV screens and other monitors, why not create your own Christmas or other holiday video to display on the wall? Another crafty idea would be bake your tree parts and put them together for display them enjoy the tasty treat after the day is done:)

    Andrew M. Odom - December 10, 2014 Reply

    Joyce, you should have written this blog post. WOW! Great ideas. I love the idea of baking your tree.

Livia - December 10, 2014 Reply

My parents used a tumbleweed once, they come in all sizes! I don’t recommend lighting them with candles though. 😉

    Wilbour - December 11, 2014 Reply

    was that in a “Tumbleweed” home 😉

paul lunemann - December 10, 2014 Reply

Here are some websites with christmas craft ideas;;;;;

mike - December 10, 2014 Reply

I thought this was a blog about tiny houses? I don’t really have interest or time for subjects such as these 🙂

    Corby - December 10, 2014 Reply

    Merry Christmas, Mike!

      mike - December 11, 2014 Reply

      Touche… Lol…

Linda - December 10, 2014 Reply

And my favorite, decorate your windows, because in a tiny house vacant wallpaper or floor space is mostly non existent.

jj - December 10, 2014 Reply

Added my favorite of these to a Pinterest board “Save a Tree for Christmas.
Check it out to see a couple more creative and fun alternatives to the traditional Christmas tree…

Nancy @ Little Homestead in Boise - December 10, 2014 Reply

We downsized our tree big time, and found a tree at a thrift store that is nice size but very narrow. Works great! I have also used a mantle, a small table top, or shelf, instead of a tree…

CathyAnn - December 10, 2014 Reply

I think my mother had the answer for a tree in a small space, and someone else mentioned it already – a small, live, potted evergreen tree that can support a few small ornaments, a small garland and look festive. It fits on a table top or counter, taking up little space, and can be planted outside after the holidays when weather permits.

Shell - December 10, 2014 Reply

Loved hearing all the great an fun ideas. Thank you.:)

alice h - December 11, 2014 Reply

My problem is finding space for the Christmas village. It packs away small but gets out of control quickly when set up. Luckily the main setup fits on my table with just enough space left for a small plate and cup. This year’s extension is built on a 12″x30″ old shelf board and sits on top of the bookshelf. I might just be able to squeeze in another shelf board with a bit more on it.

The other alternative I though of was maybe building a tree shaped collapsible stand to hold the assorted village setups, interspersed with real greenery. There’s usually lots of fallen pine and spruce boughs lying around after windstorms.

BigLou - December 12, 2014 Reply

How about buying a little tree and then planting it somewhere? Then you can have the memory of that Christmas with that tree for a very long time? Good idea? j

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