When you’re saddled with a small space with barely enough room to turn around, the prospect of bringing in a tree can be enough to kill off your festive spirit before the season has even begun. Luckily, alternative Christmas trees for small spaces are trending and there are plenty of inspiring options to get you excited for the Big Day.
There are some enticing benefits to not conforming to traditional Christmas tree trends, too. For a start, alternative Christmas tree ideas mean there will be no pine needles shedding all over your carpets and clothing. Plus, there will be no pressure to keep your tree watered and no battle to keep pets and kids from clamouring all over it, smashing baubles in their wake.
As well as being better suited to small spaces, many substitute Christmas trees are also more eco-friendly compared to buying a cut tree. This is especially true if you opt for an alternative that can be reused every year.
Christmas tree alternatives for small spaces
Sound tempting? There’s a huge array of tree alternatives out there, from artfully adorned branches and pint-sized potted plants to modern metal designs and home-spun crafty options. And, the more interesting and eye-catching your alternative Christmas tree ideas are, the less chance you’ll miss the real deal.
1. Get a micro tree
If you simply can’t squeeze in a regular floor-standing tree, scale down with a cute table-top fir! Micro trees are really popular in studio apartments and any home restricted on space – some can even be sent by post like this one from Bloom & Wild, making a lovely festive gift.
‘Although we love an eclectic, maximalist look at Christmas when it comes to decorating a mini Christmas tree, our top tip is to pick a theme to ensure that the tree isn’t overwhelmed by lots of different colours and styles,’ says Lucy St George, co-founder of Rockett St George. ‘However, that doesn’t mean your tree will be boring. Your theme can be anything from a focus on colourful Christmas styling to a disco drama theme with disco ball baubles hanging from the branches of the tree.
With smaller Christmas trees, location is everything. ‘We always recommend elevating a smaller tree on a side table or styling the tree in a raised planter to create the illusion of extra height and ensure that the tree is closer to your eye line. The corner of the room is a favourite spot for us when it comes to styling a small Christmas tree as this allows the tree to be seen from all angles,’ adds Lucy.
2. Go for garlands
Living garlands made from fir, holly, ivy and other evergreens can bring that festive scent into your small living room ideas, without impeding traffic flow in the room.
‘Garlands can be draped over mantelpieces, staircases, and doorways to add a touch of holiday charm. You can create your own festive wreath using a wire frame, greenery, and decorations like pinecones, ornaments, or ribbons. Choose colours that complement your existing décor for a cohesive look,’ says Glen Peskett, DIY professional at Saxton Blades.
3. Reimagine a rustic ladder
Rustic styling can add a touch of Nordic cosiness to your small living space. If you’re considering a DIY-take on the traditional Christmas tree, a rough-and-ready look means you don’t have to be too perfect with your craftsmanship or spend hours with the sander!
We love this rugged repurposed ladder, which echoes the shape of a tree and looks so stylish loaded up with hand-wrapped parcels. You could also try homemade popcorn garlands, or dried fruit threaded on garden twine.
‘While decorating your DIY project is fun, it's important not to overdo it. Sometimes, less is more, and a few well-placed decorations can have a more significant impact than an overwhelming display,’ adds Glen Peskett of Saxton Blades.
4. Check out modern metal trees
For something a little bit different, and a little less space-hungry, look out for metal sculptural trees – ideally countertop size to keep those carpets clear. Decorate with your favourite mini baubles, battery-operated fairy lights or just leave it plain for a pared-back, minimalist look.
‘Modern metal tree alternatives can be smaller in scale than regular trees without looking compromised, don’t involve plastics or messy pine needles and can be brought out year after year as a family tradition,’ enthuses Scott Thomas, managing director of Ivyline.
Still, pining for that earthy pine fragrance? Light a Christmas scented candle and relax in the knowledge your modern tree won’t need watering or rescuing from the cat!
5. Branch out
‘Using a branch from the garden or local woodland is a brilliant and sustainable alternative to a traditional tree at home. Decorate with delicate lights and baubles and it will feel just as magical, but requires much less space,’ says Jamie Graham, co-owner of Graham and Green.
Birch, willow and hazel branches are great for creating alternative Christmas trees at home. To support your branch upright, use a spade bit to drill a hole roughly the same size into a log. This should hold it firmly in place and help prevent decorations from dropping off.
6. Flower power
Festive floral arrangements – fresh, faux or dried – can prove an excellent way to introduce all the colour and nature a tree can offer, with a little design difference. ‘If you’ve got a small space, or simply want something different this year, you can spruce up your home by creating a fresh or dried flower display,’ agrees Dani Turner, customer experience director at Bunches.
‘Popular festive bouquets feature flowers such as Carnations, Alstroemeria, Gypsophila, and can be adorned with gold Ruscus leaves, Hypericum Berries and snowy pinecones for extra wow factor.’
Fresh flowers allow you to switch up your Christmas décor, as you can replace the beautiful bouquet every two-three weeks. ‘Although flowers won’t last as long as an artificial or real Christmas tree, there are many ways to make sure your florals are blooming for as long as possible. Be sure to do some research into your bouquet or flower of choice and give it the best environment to thrive this festive period,’ adds Dani.
7. Be crafty
‘Alternative Christmas trees are all the rage this year, and there’s so many great options you can create at home using yarn and felt. This is a great tactic if you don’t have much space to spare, too,’ says Katherine Paterson, customer director at Hobbycraft.
A tree made out of Pom Poms is one the kids can also get involved with – make it as big or small as your space (and their concentration levels) allow. Invest in a Pom Pom Maker from Hobbycraft to speed the process up. ‘Another fun one for the kids is building a Christmas tree out of felt. It is one of the easiest and fun craft products to work with. Try mixing the felt colours up too, so you end up with an array of brightly coloured trees dotted around your home,’ adds Katherine.
8. Don’t forget paper crafts
Some of the best Christmas decorations don't cost a thing so, if you are watching your spending this year, it's time to get creative with paper crafts,’ says Melissa Denham, interior designer and origami enthusiast, Hammonds Furniture. Requiring nothing more than paper and scissors, origami Christmas trees are one of the best budget Christmas decorating ideas, and it’s easy to create a whole forest to fill a windowsill, mantlepiece or tree-up your Christmas tablescape.
‘Once you’ve mastered the folds, you can try your hand at these origami stars, which look gorgeous strung together and hung over a door or a fireplace,’ adds Melissa.
9. Dress your shelves
Loading up shelves in the same way as you would dress a tree can achieve similar impact and create a strong focal point if your home lacks a tree – fill with twinkling lights to boost the tree-inspired feel.
‘Arrange or hang your favourite baubles and Christmas ornaments along living room shelving for an eye-catching display. Try to mix and match different sizes and colours but always consider a scheme that complements your overall decor for a cohesive look,’ recommends Essential Living’s manager, Camilla Lesser.
The shelfie-tree approach can work in any room in your home, even the kitchen – add your festive crockery to your shelf displays to introduce more seasonal patterns and colours. ‘Don’t forget to introduce artificial or real greenery to shelving scenes, depending on your preference. If you opt for artificial greenery, then try adding some scent sticks that smell like fir or pine to bring that Christmas smell into your home,’ adds Camilla.
10. Embrace the mantelscaping trend
‘Mantelscaping has fast become one of the key Christmas interior trends and people are giving it just as much focus as the Christmas tree. It’s a great way to create a focal point in the room without a need for the tree itself,’ says Shaun Eldridge, senior buyer for Christmas at The Range. ‘Mantelscaping is a way of expressing your own personality and it’s set to elevate interior schemes all this festive season.’
Whether you are minimalist or maximalist, mantelscaping is about curating your favourite festive decorations and getting really creative. Naturally, eye-catching Christmas mantel decor will be most effective if you are looking to steer attention away from the lack of a tree. Think feather boas, outsized garlands and ribbons galore.
What is the best real christmas tree for a narrow space?
When choosing real Christmas trees for spatially challenged rooms, there are a couple of options that can help you claw back precious inches. Fraser Firs are often cited by experts as the best choice if you are hoping to save floor space. Its branches angle upwards, which helps keep baubles in place and makes it easier to squeeze into a narrow room. Another option is a potted Porch Tree, which is small and perfectly formed and can be pruned in late summer and autumn to help keep any outward growth under control for next Christmas.
What can I replace my Christmas tree with after Christmas?
Taking the Christmas tree down after all the fun and frivolity of the festive season can leave you and your living room feeling a bit flat and sad, especially as the return to work and school will be calling. One way to fill the gap left behind is to pop a striking houseplant in its place. A fabulous fiddle-leaf fig or kentia palm will replicate the impact and greenery of your tree – go ahead and string some fairy lights over the leaves to keep the cosy vibes going until the first signs of Spring!
Will you be going down the alternative Christmas tree route this year and making a splash with a unique festive display?
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Linda Clayton is a professionally trained journalist, and has specialised in product design, interiors and fitness for more than two decades. Linda has written for a wide range of publications, from the Daily Telegraph and Guardian to Homes & Gardens and Livingetc. She has been freelancing for Ideal Home Magazine since 2008, covering design trends, home makeovers, product reviews and much more.
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