Why you Might Want a Christmas Tree Alternative

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You might not have the space for a traditional tree, or might not like the inevitable mess of needles dropped all over your floor. Or maybe someone in your home has allergies, or just doesn’t want a real tree. But that doesn’t mean you have to do without the holiday tradition of a decorated tree in your living room.

There are many alternatives to a real or even real-looking Christmas tree that are just as wonderful with twinkling lights and a pile of gifts underneath.

Are you Simply Short on Space?

Just because you live in a tiny apartment or condo doesn’t mean you can’t have a Christmas tree. It just means you need a tree that doesn’t take up any floor space. If you have a stretch of bare wall available, you can put your tree flat on the wall.

  • Stick it up with Wall Decals: Wall decals make having a Christmas tree as easy as smoothing the sticker onto the wall. Most include small tape tabs so you can position your design to your liking before affixing it to the wall. Smooth a squeegee (often included with the decal) over the design to press out air bubbles, and your tree is ready to go. There are wall decals that look quite realistic, and decals that are very stylized and futuristic, as well as anything in between. When the holidays are over, just peel your tree right off the wall and save for next year.
  • Make a Tree of Lights: If you have a few strings of small LED Christmas lights, you can create a twinkling Christmas tree on the wall. Decide on how high you want the “tree” to be, and how wide, then use a pencil to make small dots on the wall to indicate the top of the tree, the bottom corners and a few spots along the sides. Hammer a small hook into each pencil dot, and then wind your strings of lights back and forth from hook to hook, filling in the tree shape. You can hang a few small ornaments from the cords if you’d like, and finish off the tree with a large fabric bow on top.

Do you Just Want Something Unique?

If you want something similar in size to a traditional tree, but can’t bear the thought of mainstream décor, you still have several options.

  • Turn a Ladder into a Christmas Tree: One easy solution is to take a ladder, open it up in the space designated for your “tree” and cover up the ladder’s frame with cut pine branches. You can then string lights around the ladder, hang a few ornaments, and even position a star or angel on top. Skip the branches all together for a cleaner, more modern look that only incorporates lights.
  • Go Retro with a Vintage Aluminum Tree: If you like the retro style of the 1950s and ‘60s, you’ll love the aluminum Christmas trees that were so popular during those decades. Not intended to be realistic, aluminum trees in unnatural colors like blue, white and silver decked many living rooms, and thrilled many children on Christmas morning. Stiff branches were usually thick with feathery, garland-like “needles”; and strong enough to hold even heavy ornaments with ease. The ultimate in kitsch design were trees using a colored light wheel that slowly turned underneath, highlighting the tree in ever-changing color. You can still find vintage aluminum trees on eBay or at garage sales, or purchase a recreation of this classic design.
  • Keep the Floor Clear with an Upside-Down Tree: If you have toddlers, curious cats or mischievous puppies in your home, a traditional Christmas tree is just asking for trouble. Avoid a disaster, and keep the floor clear, with an upside-down Christmas tree. It might seem like a crazy, new notion to hang a tree from the ceiling, but actually, all the way back in medieval times trees were hung upside down to symbolize the Trinity.
  • Today’s upside-down Christmas trees come in a variety of styles. You can go for a tree that looks quite traditional and realistic, other than being upside down and hanging from the ceiling. Or choose a tree that is styled more like a chandelier, or is glamorous in metallic silver or gold. Your hanging Christmas tree will need its bracket securely fastened to the ceiling with hardware that should be included with the tree’s stand. Once the tree is in place, you can add ornaments as usual.

Having a tree to celebrate Christmas doesn’t have to mean a real tree, or a realistic looking artificial tree. Feel free to adapt this holiday symbol to your own home and your own needs. Whether you have to make allowances for limited space, or just want something different from the norm, you can find an alternative to the traditional tree that is just as much fun to wake up to on Christmas morning.

Last Updated: December 14, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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