Top 5 Alternative Christmas Trees

If you didn’t already catch Friday’s post, we opted out on buying a real tree this year by putting up the fake tree we’ve been using for the past 6 or 7 years. Though we had talked about starting the tradition of getting a fresh one once we had a kiddo (who was old enough to enjoy it), we decided it still wasn’t worth the money this year when there was already a tree in our possession. I originally purchased this tree for two reasons. One because my husband had a traumatic pine needle shedding experience when carrying our first and only fresh tree out to be disposed of from our (then) third floor apartment. The other was because I thought it would actually be less wasteful, since fresh cut trees are only displayed for about a month before being disposed of (or hopefully recycled/composted). But real trees have major benefits over the plastic variety (apart from falling needles). First, they have the ability to break down at the end of their lifetime, whereas fake trees won’t, not to mention the plastic these trees are composed of is made using non-renewable resources and they are manufactured overseas. Cutting down your own tree supports your local economy, reduces transportation waste, while also putting money into the market of growing plants – plants that help to clean our air! That said, it still doesn’t eliminate the potential environmental waste created by tree farming if not grown or disposed of in a sustainable manner. Those seeking out fresh cut trees should head out to farms that grew their trees without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Once the season is over and you’ve had about as much Christmas as you can stand, take that tree to the nearest recycling drop-off site so that it can be repurposed into mulch.

For all my penny pinchers out there, I think we can all agree that plastic is not the way to go when trying to avoid shelling out $100 every year on something you’re just going to have to haul off to get mulched.  Luckily there is no shortage of creative alternatives, so for those of looking for a different way to do the whole holiday thing here are my top five favorites for you!!


1. Plantable tree

My sister-in-law was actually the first to clue me into this idea. Instead of cutting a tree down you can buy one with its roots intact that can be planted after the holiday is over. How novel is that?! A total win-win on the fresh and natural tree front. It’s not without a few caveats though. One is that they only last up to a week indoors so no putting up one of these babies the day after Thanksgiving. Also, a head’s up for post-holiday planting that many Christmas style trees can grow up to 20-40 feet tall. If you don’t have somewhere to plant it afterwards but like the idea of a living tree, you could give to family member who has the space or maybe even donate it to a local organization. The best bet is to head to your local nursery to see what trees are available that grow well in your area as well as tips for care and maintenance.

Image credit & some interesting info!


2. Dead tree/limbs or fresh branches

I recently did some yard work cleaning up an eyesore in our backyard. This included cutting down some of the old trees and branches that were getting in the way of fully enjoying the beautiful living ones around them. During this process I came across several that would have made a great alternative to our Christmas tree if we had not already put it up! The moral of this story: you may have the perfect limb tree hiding in your own backyard. Another option is to snag a couple of live branches from out in the woods or at a tree lot/farm.  I would suspect trees lose all sorts of limbs at the time of cutting or when hauled to people’s cars so you might be able to get them for free or next to nothing.

I just love what The Merry Thought & Enjoy Your Home did with these branches!!


3. Wooden tree

How awesome is this idea? These trees more closely mimic the look and shape of the traditional style while also allowing you to hang ornaments off of them. The best part is you can make them yourself, reuse them year after year (without taking up a lot of storage space) and they will rot away at the end of their lifetime. Check, check, check, done!

Head to Sustain My Craft Habit to learn how to make your own tree out of driftwood or Cakies to create a clean and simple wooden dowel tree.


4. Wall Tree

I’m pretty much in love with all of these options but wall trees are the bomb because they take up ZERO floor space. No shifting your furniture around to fit in a large tree. Instead all you may have to do is move a picture from the wall to make way for this unique alternative.

I love the simple idea from Good Housekeeping using strings and paper but also like the hanging option as a way to display treasured ornaments and lights. If you’re up for DIY with the copper pipe look, head to A Joyful Riot for their tutorial or for a wooden version that comes ready to be assembled check out this kit available on Etsy!

5. Decorated house plant

Honestly this may be my game plan in the future. How easy is it simply to decorate a plant that’s already taking up residence in or around your home?!

That’s what one of my fave go to zero wasters, Bea Johnson from Zero Waste Home, did in her home using their patio topiary.


And there you have it – five ways to save money without having to resort to plastic imitation! 🙂 Which one of these alternatives could you most see yourself using?

xo, Erica

Linked Up With: Pumps & Push-Ups

3 Replies to “Top 5 Alternative Christmas Trees”

  1. Aw man I didn’t know the ones with roots only lasted a week! That stinks, but still a fun idea I would love to try one year! These are all fun ideas, I have some branches in a vase now!

    1. Yay for branches! I’d been meaning to tell you that I found that out about the tree. I think you should because you have the perfect space to plant it! 🙂 🙂

  2. Number 1 is very interesting to consider. I like the smell of a natural tree, texture and earthy look. Fantastic ideas you have here.

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