Real and Alternative Christmas Trees

November 19, 2019

If you like the idea of a tree for Christmas or a bush for Hanukkah but want to avoid the whole dry pine needles problem that live trees cause by New Year’s, here are a few alternative ideas to consider. You’ll see variations of wooden trees — both naked wood and covered in upholstery fabric — tinsel trees that shimmer and shine and paper trees that sing. Well, almost. 

Wood, Paper and Twig Trees

Brian Patrick Flynn at Flynnside Out Productions is a regular contributor to and his idea for this trio of alternative trees include holiday-themed upholstery fabric over batting, secured with nail heads along the edges. Use these year after year for a festively-decorated corner of any room – no ornaments required!

Another wooden alternative tree, the brainchild of Wade Works Creative, looks like a twirling Jenga puzzle. It’s a tabletop decoration, and especially hypnotic when flanked by colorful snowflakes, and other alternative tree motifs. Chip Wade offers a complete tutorial for anyone handy with a table saw and drill press! 

If you’d rather buy than DIY, Etsy’s Natural Wood Company offers a similar alternative tree made from English Oak and IT has moving branches! And Duck Barn Florals makes table-top trees out of twigs, decorated with berries, mini-apples and various sized stars.

Using sheet music as the raw material for a trio of fluttery trees – and more appropriate for an entry table or fireplace mantel — is a clever twist and well-suited to the holidays. Christmas carols would make the most likely choices, but these pages that seem slightly off-white, against the framework of a wispy twig wreath, need only a red or green backdrop to achieve the total Christmas or Hanukkah effect.

Country Living Magazine curated 27 different alternative tree ideas, including one for book lovers (with about four dozen green books!) and one made of HUGE ribbon – courtesy of Kim at the Celebration Shoppe. And it’s big enough to clip holiday cards to!

Outdoor Alternative Trees

The Decoist cut three graduated shapes of trees out of plywood, stained them antique brown and used nails to decorate in silver outline, spelling out “NOEL” which means Christmas season. Look for 20 more alternative ideas, from wrapping paper trees and driftwood trees, to Washi tape and chalkboard trees with pom-pom ornaments. 

The Country Living editors hauled about a dozen haybales and stacked them into the shape of a tree, complete with colored lights strung side-to-side, ball ornaments and huge stars that look like the perfect ode to the Lone Star state! 

If that’s a little too country for you, take a look at this pallet alternative tree. With lights that outline the tree shape, and ornaments hung to accentuate it, Redhead Can Decorate took a log to create the tree trunk and polished it off with a fanciful gold star. It looks great indoors, too – says Julie (the redhead). Adding a candle at the pallet base, enhances the illumination and reflection effect – when the lights are on!

Pick Your Own Living Tree

And if none of these seem real enough for a good old-fashioned Christmas, go cut down the real thing at Jolly Christmas Trees tree farm. You’ll find one at the Town Center at Aurora, 14200 E. Alameda Avenue by TGI Fridays. Nick’s Garden Center at 2001 S. Chambers Rd. in Aurora is another great option – and Nick has upcoming holiday happenings to check out – like his annual Holiday Open House, Saturday and Sunday, November 23 and 24 — with special discounts.

To the Trees of Southshore

The trees throughout the master-planned community of Southshore are particularly pretty after a dusting of snow. Even the marina takes on a wintry wonderland look during this time of year. Take a tour of the brand new homes from Century Communities, Richmond American Homes and Toll Brothers – both ranch and two-story designs priced between the $400s and the $700s.