Christmas trees are the centerpiece for so many Christmas celebrations and traditions. Trimming the tree is often a family event. The presents are found under the tree. The tree usually occupies a prominent position in the house, maybe in front of a street-side window or in the corner of the living room.

For many, Christmas trees aren’t Christmas trees unless they are the real thing: (once) living trees cut down for the holiday season. Others hate the clean-up and opt for artificial trees, often plastic and more or less disposable. Either way, the downside to conventional Christmas trees, real or fake, is they aren’t all the good for the environment.

Real Christmas trees, of course, mean that we’ve cut down a tree, not to mention that said tree was usually raised in a monoculture with lots of agro-chemicals. With artificial trees, we are feeding the petroleum industry yet again, as well as creating ultimately feeding the landfill.

So, perhaps it’s time to come up with some unconventional trees that are eco-friendly but still supply that fashionable, yuletide feeling.

Pallet Wood Tree

Pallet wood, the ultimate in upcycle craft wood, can make a nice 2-D Christmas tree. Use one plank to create the trunk, then cut and fasten a few planks at different links to create the typical triangular Xmas tree shape.

If ornaments and such are a must—and that’s totally understandable—you can scatter a finishing nails over the horizontal planks to hang the ornaments from and weave the lights through. Lean the pallet tree in the corner or wherever you like. It’s easy to move.

Old Treetop Tree

For those who have already bought a tree, have recently pruned pine trees outside, or have an in with a Christmas tree farm or vendor, a good unconventional tree option for Xmas is using an old tree top.

Stow it away for a while so that all the needles fall off. Then use the perfectly shaped treetop as a medium to hold up all the typical Christmas tree trimmings of ornaments, lights, and so on.

Grow Your Own Christmas Tree Bonsai

For those who enjoy gardening, it only seems logical to grow a Christmas tree at home. Obviously, we wouldn’t want to do all the nurturing to cut it down, so why not grow a bonsai Christmas tree?

Norfolk pines and dwarf Alberta spruce are two good candidates for trees that can be grown in containers, kept outside for most of the year, pruned regularly to shape them, and brought indoors for a month or so to act as a Christmas tree.

Newspaper Tree

Newspapers and flyers are everywhere, and they become irrelevant fairly quickly, leaving us with loads of papers to recycle. Instead of sending them right off to the recycling bin, however, they can be used to make cool Christmas trees.

Note: the same technique can be employed with old Christmas wrapping paper to put it to good use and further imbue that Yuletide spirit into the Christmas tree.

Cardboard Cut-out

Cardboard boxes are readily available at stores and recycle centers, and they can make some amazing, intricate Christmas trees (as seen in the video above). These can be a great deal of fun to make if crafting is something enjoyable.

If not, there are tons of simple cardboard Christmas tree designs. Even better, the cardboard, if not painted, can still be recycled after the holiday season is over, or it can be stored for use next year.

Stacked Stick Tree

If collecting sticks, driftwood, or lumber scraps is easy, they can make really artistic Christmas tree. Simple cut them in incremental lengths, say from 2 inches up to two feet long. Drill a hole in the center of each one, so that they can be threaded onto a piece of all-thread or pipe, which will act as a vertical rod.

Affix the rod to a flat base to hold it vertically, then thread the piece of wood or sticks down the rod starting with the longest first. Cap off the top of the tree with a star or another piece of wood. It’s a super versatile Christmas tree with a stylish twist.

Wooden Tree Mobile

Using the same theory as the stacked stick tree (above), this time the items are attached to one another by a lengthy of natural rope that is knotted to hold the branches of the tree up. The rope is hung from something, and the tree can either dangle or the bottom of the rope can attach to a weight.

And, that’s how easy it is to take the Christmas tree spirit and make it into something that is eco-friendly, using repurposed items, natural materials, and creativity. Doesn’t that sound like it might be even more fun than those old conventional Christmas trees of yore?

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