16 Festive Christmas Tree Alternatives for the Holiday Nonconformist

Ingenious yuletide hacks can bring some holiday cheer in unusual ways, thanks to these nontraditional Christmas tree ideas.

Published November 9, 2023

Have you ever been the reason someone couldn't have a real tree? Because I've been there. I'm the sneezing one. Allergies don't take any days off.

The easy answer for a Christmas tree alternative is a fake tree, but it's not the only one. So if you need to be treeless like me, we've got plenty of ideas and crafty Christmas tree solutions. It's time to get rockin' around these non-traditional Christmas trees. 

Opt for a Conceptual Outline


Craft the outline of a tree on your wall using strings of beads, garland, or other Chrismassy materials. You can build the silhouette of a tree or opt for a minimalistic open-ended zig-zag, depending on the aesthetics of your space. 

Create a Clever Decorated Wall Tree


If you're looking to push the envelope of your basic decorations and go beyond the outline of a tree, grab a couple of your favorite Christmas tree decorations and get going! You can add lights, tinsel, and even ornaments. When choosing ornaments, opt for those that are lightweight and definitely pick ones that are less fragile. Don't forget the star on top!

Go Glam With a Metal Christmas Tree

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A metal tree is sturdier (and less likely for your cat to climb) than a traditional Christmas tree. But depending on the finish, the sparkle and shine might be decoration enough, so you won't need to add any garland or ornaments. 

Dress Up Your Favorite Cactus


Be oh-so-very-careful when decorating a cactus or two at Christmas. No one wants to get a sharp poke in pursuit of holiday joy.

But if you've got a beautiful cactus, it's the picture-perfect stand-in for a traditional Christmas tree. And they're so low maintenance that you probably won't even need to water. Which is great because that to-do list is already long enough. Bonus points: there's no need to worry about allergies like with a Christmas tree

Hang a Christmas Branch


If you're short on wall space, you can use a long stick and a string of garland to create a decoration that quickly and beautifully resembles the branch of a Christmas tree. Consider hanging a few decorations, ornaments, and lights, or attach more strings of garland to spread the greenery over a bigger area.

Go Rustic With a Wooden Tree


Start with raw wood and see where it takes you. For a rustic look, use the wooden tree as-is, or jazz it up with paint, decoupage, or any decorations that tickle your fancy. The result is a tree that's a one-of-a-kind expression of your holiday joy. 

Decorate a Wreath, Instead


Those decorations you'd usually add to your Christmas tree will look just as darling and fabulous when you add them to a green or other festive Christmas wreath. Lights, pinecones, and ribbons create a polished and traditional Christmas feel. Of course, you can add in those favorite ornaments. Better yet, everyone in the household can decorate their Christmas tree wreath however they see fit. 

Gather a Group of Tiny Trees


Pick out a shelf or a space that will become your designated Christmas tree forest, then plant away. You can use miniature decorative trees with the same textures, colors, and materials, or go for a maximalist approach with a little bit of everything that catches your eye. It's also a great way to add fun to travels and gift-giving, as you search for the next tree to add to your forest. 

Channel Charlie Brown at Christmas


Is this a Christmas tree? Well, it's certainly a sparse Christmas tree branch that resembles a tree! For those who are last-minute planners and love a good joke, there's something cozy and comforting about a Christmas branch that aspires to one day be a proper tree. Think of the little to no cleanup! 

Add Aroma With a Rosemary Plant


For several years, I've readily brought my rosemary plant into the spotlight and added a few decorations to transform it into a Rose-Merry-Christmas tree. And if you don't have a rosemary plant on hand, it's a great way to add some decor that you can continue to use. We're sure it won't mind if you take a little clip for a garnish at Christmas dinner. 

Paint Pinecones


Scour the ground, or even snag a few from branches, for pinecones that'll turn into trees even quicker than they would in nature. After washing the pinecones of any debris, paint them a festive Christmas tree green and prop them up in a small container. Whether you paint on ornaments or other decorations is entirely up to your jolly heart. 

Create a Parumpa-Pom-Pom Tree


Whether you glue pom poms to a pre-made Christmas tree frame outline or paste them onto a wooden cone shape to build your alternative Christmas tree, there's no wrong way to do it. It's your tree, after all. Add a few glittery pom poms, follow a color pattern or scheme, or let randomness guide your way.  

Take Joy in Minimalism


Head out into the woods and find a branch or two. Prop your small branch up like a tree or hang it parallel to the ground. Then add those vintage ornaments and decorations to fill your holly jolly heart. Skip those Christmas lights, though. You don't want to take any chances. 

Let Your Plants Take Center Stage


Gather up your snake plants, aloe plants, succulents, and ivy. This year, and possibly more, they're the green stars of Christmas. Carefully add lights, small ornaments, or tinsel to your beloved plants. You can keep them on their usual shelves or group them in one place so that they can glitter and shine together.

Build a Pleasing Pile of Ornaments


Pile up your Christmas decorations, ornaments, and other festive tchotchkes. Then, begin to build, pile, and construct those already jolly centerpieces into a Christmas tree. Double-sided tape is helpful if you know you'll want to use these decorations differently next year, but if you're committed to having a jovial tree, glue works even better.

Top Your Table With a Mini Tree


There's something chic and adorable about a miniature tabletop Christmas tree. You can add all sorts of tiny decorations to make it feel lifesize. You can leave it on your kitchen table or enjoy it as a temporary co-worker on your desk in your home office. 

Branch Out With a Non-Traditional Christmas Tree


The Christmas season and all its activities are heavily steeped in tradition, routine, and yearly expectations. But there's no bad time to add something unconventional. After all, like Christmas and families, celebrations are always evolving. With one of our Christmas tree alternatives, you can create something for generations to come to tell stories about. 

16 Festive Christmas Tree Alternatives for the Holiday Nonconformist