5 budget-friendly Christmas tree ideas & alternatives

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Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches! Yeah, they’re lovely and all, but sometimes you don’t want to fork over 70 bucks on something that requires constant watering and that will take a whole tag team to drag to the curb on New Year’s Day — if it even lasts that long. Skip out on the mess, high spend and hassle of a traditional Christmas tree without forgoing the tradition with these budget-friendly Christmas tree alternatives.

Your wallet and your overworked arms (from the constant watering and sweeping of needles, natch) will thank you.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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Make a photo tree

Gather all your memories from Christmases past and bring them together with a gorgeous (and incredibly unique) photo Christmas tree, inspired by Emily Henderson. Get the whole family involved as you browse through old photo albums looking for the perfect snaps, preferably over slices of fruit cake and glasses of eggnog. Have your photos specially printed on blocks, or pick up some simple wooden cubes at your nearest craft store and cut and paste them yourself. The best part is that, as you make more memories, you can add a few new photos each year.

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Photo credit: Emily Henderson

ALSO TRY: The history behind our Christmas traditions


DIY pine cone Christmas trees

Santa may not be able to fit all his treats and toys underneath these Christmas trees, but they sure are adorable — not to mention oh-so-easy to make. All you need for these pine cone Christmas trees is a little bit of hot glue, some pine cones and a whole lot of creativity. Bonus? Their sweet little cork bases make this DIY option the perfect excuse to crack open a bottle or two of your favorite wine (not that you needed one, it’s the holidays after all).

Make up for their small size by crafting up a whole forest of them and popping them on your windowsill, or perhaps on the mantle of your fireplace where Santa is sure to see them. You and your kiddos can even get super creative, using glitter as snow or sticking on pom-poms for makeshift decorations. These budget-friendly Christmas tree alternatives just go to show that even the simplest objects you already have lying around your home can be turned into the most magical Christmas tree Santa and his reindeer have ever seen. All it takes is a little bit of holiday magic.

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Photo credit: Thanksgiving.com

Upcycled wooden Christmas tree

Simple yet elegant (and eco-friendly), you’ll wish you’d thought of a wooden Christmas tree sooner! Take a page out of Pillar Box Blue’s book and decorate your tree with random knobs and handles from your local antique store or your junk drawer — it’s OK, we all have one. Alternatively, you could have each member of your family paint a piece of wood in their favorite color and decorate it with whatever you have hanging around in your craft box.

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Photo credit: Pillar Box Blue

ALSO TRY: Create a mini-North Pole in a jar


A bookworm’s Christmas tree

Family of bookworms? You’re in luck. Grab everything from your piles upon piles of children’s books to your big dictionary that hasn’t been opened in years, and use them to make your very own Bibliophile’s Christmas tree like this one from Instructables. The best part of this DIY Christmas tree alternative is that zero books need be harmed in the making of it. Simply stack them up, string some lights over the top and voila! Just make sure you keep some on the shelves for holiday reading with your warm cups of cocoa.


Christmas tree wall decal

If the only thing on your Christmas list this year is a Christmas tree alternative that won’t leave pine needles all over your floor, this Christmas tree wall decal has your name all over it. Make all your neighbors jealous by putting up your fully decorated Christmas tree in 60 seconds flat, leaving plenty of time for far more important activities like gift-wrapping, cookie-baking and movie-marathoning. Plus you can put it on any blank wall in the house — just make sure you leave enough room for presents!

ALSO TRY: Make a homemade glass Christmas tree ornament

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Photo credit: All Posters