Christmas Tree Alternatives

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Christmas Tree Alternatives

From: Kimberly

Hi Ladies!

I just wanted to share with you our “Christmas Bushes” this year… We have a little 4ft. tall pre-lit tree, but thought we wanted to get a regular tree too- for the smell and the experience for our 4 year old. When we got to our local store, the least expensive tree was $20, and it was 4 ft. tall!! So, Hubby and I decided to save our money, and keep using out little tree. We even had a sweet lady stop us and ask us if we couldn’t afford a tree- she offered to buy one for us! We thanked her and just explained that we were watching our pennies.

As we were leaving I noticed the huge trash pile of trimmings and branches near the exit, (we were at Target, BTW) and, when I asked, the employee said I could have as many cut branches as I would like! I grabbed a bunch (people were looking at me funny, I had so many!) and brought them home. I trimmed them up, tied them together and put them into 2 metal buckets full of water, on either side of my little tree. I wrapped a ribbon around the buckets and we decorated them.

They look so pretty! The best part about it all was how excited our son was to decorate- He didn’t care that we didn’t have an 8 ft. tall tree! I have gotten so many compliments that I think we might have started a new family tradition!

Thank you for your website, it is the first place I go when I get online! Merry Christmas!


One year, when I was 10 years old, I noticed my great-grandparents didn’t have a Christmas tree. (They were in their late 80’s and didn’t do decorations any more.) I was so upset that they didn’t have one that I went out and got a tumbleweed, stuck it in a bucket with some sand and decorated it for them. We lived in Southeastern Colorado at the time and there weren’t any trees to cut down so I had to make due with what we had. It was the funniest Christmas tree around but I sure did put a lot of thought into it. :-) The point is that even if you don’t have any money, find some way to celebrate!!



I couldn’t afford a real tree most of my life but, like many others, I love the smell. I started going to places where they sell trees and asking for the “scraps” on the ground. I bring them home and use them by laying them all over just for decoration and a little greenery. Not only does the house smell great but that little bit of greenery changes the whole look of the room.




  1. LAC says

    Because holidays are not celebrated at the school where I work I have taken bare branches stuck them in empty coffee pots filled with sand and let the kids decorate with whatever they want on it. The branches looked pretty and festive and we weren’t breaking any rules about holiday decorating because it went with our winter theme we had in the classroom. We put pine cones and homemade snowflakes as well as other decorations the kids liked. If a parent gave me a gift I stuck the bow on the branch for added flair! Everyone loved it!

  2. says

    One year we did not have a tree so I decorated an avocado tree I had growing in a pot.
    That was the first year my husband enjoyed Christmas. Every other year he would have a headache and be the grinch’s twin brother. We found out he was allergic to pine.
    needless to say we now use an artificial tree.
    so if anyone you know gets miserable as soon as the tree enters the house this might be their problem.

  3. Rachel says

    I live in the south, and I have a friend who has always lived in urban areas up north. They are now renting a mobile home on a large parcel of land about 10 miles out in the country. Her husband has been sick and they have both suffered job cutbacks in pay and are struggling financially. She told me last week that they went to Home Depot and looked at the trees. The pretty, big trees were $60.00, and they could not afford that, so they spent less on a smaller tree. Not sure what amount, she didn’t say. All I could think was that they could have walked out the back door, into the woods and cut one down for free! I didn’t mention it though, didn’t want her to feel too bad about spending the money!

  4. Lea says

    My Aunt always had a Christmas tumbleweed – so you story made me laugh! She picked up a dead one – one that was blowing around like you see in the old Western movies – and brought it home, decorated it with lights and tiny christmas ball ornaments. She was single, lived in an area where Christmas trees were a ton of money, and usually worked Christmas Eve and Day so that people with families could be home with them. She said she didn’t need a ‘real’ tree. And we always loved visiting and seeing her tumbleweed! :)

    Merry Christmas!

  5. rose says

    one yr when i was a single mother, i couldnt afford even a small table top tree for christmas… but my sister did have xtra craft items … so i asked her if i could have the extra poster board that her kids werent using and the use of some of the glitter and glue and etc… ….
    and yes, i drew a christmas tree (and colored it in) and added the “trimmings” to the “tree” … when i got the picture home, i taped it to a wall and put a piece of cloth down and well put our presents “under” our homemade tree…
    my daughter was 4 at the time and she still remembers that tree…
    and the presents? i only had $20 to spend for like 6 people so i went to the dollar store and really got super deals! … the wrapping paper? well, i used the sunday comics and the colored ads that are in the sunday edition… it was quite colorful i must say! …
    frugal too! …
    my sister always gave a small box of chocolates and a tin of those butter cookies (you know, i think they are from the dansk company? with the pretty pictures on them… or at least i think thats the name of the company)…
    and when my hubby and i were first married (i think this was either our 2nd or 3rd xmas together as a family) money was sooo tight we could barely afford to give xmas gifts to each other that we couldnt afford a tree…
    xmas day/evening, our neighbor just happened to throw out their tree with all of the trimmings, so yes, after it was dark we walked over and took the tree!… the next day after xmas we went shopping (you know the day after xmas sales!) and well that night, we celebrated xmas… my daughter was about 10 by then and well, she still remembers that… my son was too little but that yr to remember… but you do what you must do when you only have a limited amount of funds to work with…

  6. Laurellee says

    We get our trees at Lowe’s (Target’s are way too much money) We got a 6 ft tree for a little over $28, counting tax. You might want to try Lowe’s next year if one is nearby. I also bring home tons of branches; the employees always try to get us to take more, so they don’t have to get rid of them! :-)

  7. says

    I saw a display in a magazine where they used tea cups and plates to make a tiered center piece for crackers dips and things.
    I was looking at it and it was really pretty. But I was thinking of it more as a christmas tree for a small apt or area.
    On the plates you could pile christmas balls and use a drinking glass for the top to make the top of the tree. Sprinkle glitter on it or just put lots of tinsel so it hangs down the tree and put candles on the plates around the balls.
    I think it would make a cute tree or you could use it as a center piece for the table.
    If I get it done I will take a picture and maybe Jill and Tawra could post it.

  8. Sandi P. says

    I remember a bank in El Paso had a huge Snowman made out of gigantic tumbleweeds in the center of the lobby. In the 40 years since then, I think that was the single most spectacular and original decoration I’ve ever seen.

  9. Paula says

    We’ve never has a real tree (we have nutty cats), but have had several trees over the years. This year, (due to health) we are not putting up our larger tree. We purchased a 3ft tree from Walmart for $18!! It comes with 100 lights and is adorable. I’ve always wanted a flocked tree (encrusted with ‘snow’). A few years ago, I purchased a tree from for $10 (post Christmas sale. Sold for $50-I paid $10). It came in a tin pot and was about 2 ft tall with pewter ornaments which I used for teacher’s gifts the following year. I read in a magazine somewhere that you could flock a tree with a can of ceiling texture stuff. FYI: Do this project outside and DO NOT TIP the can, or you lose the propellant and the can is shot. Hold the tree upside down and keeping the spray can straight and upright,spray the texture onto the tree. It took 2 cans (I lost the propellant from first can), but the tree is gorgeous! (My Dad passed over a year ago, and my Mom hasn’t been in a Christmas mood, so I gave it to her this year in hopes it might help her come around)

    This year we purchased the tree from Walmart. I wanted to flock this tree, but came up with a better idea (cheaper too). I cut a kitchen sponge in half, wet it and squeezed out the excess water. I then squeezed a blob of white craft paint onto a paper plate, tapped the sponge into the paint and sponged the tree branches. Our tree looks beautiful!! It’s all frosty and cute. The tree cost us $18 with lights and the paint costs .89 cents (I had it in). The tree comes in a box approximately 6X6X36″ tall, which would make it ideal for Rv’s, apartments, Grandma etc. And since you like the smell of fresh pine, the free branches would help with the scent factor. You could clip the branches to cover your Nativity stable’s roof, especially if you set it up near or under the tree. Don’t forget to mist the branches to keep them fresh.

    You can also tie up the branches in a bundle (group them in a bunch, and tie at the cut end) add a bow, ribbon, and a few ornaments or jingle bells for a FREE Door swag…..Enjoy!!!

  10. belinda says

    I remember Christmas in first grade, we had just moved to houston. We had no family here and daddy walked to work, we didnt even have money for me school shoes(really) and didnt even have 2cents for milk. mama took a tv guide or a readers digest and folded each bag a made a tree out of the magazine. I have never forgot that little tree on the table. It was still Christmas!!!!

  11. Linda says

    We have a 5 ft. fake pine tree called a “pencil” tree. Our main problem is our cat. If we tie the ornaments on, he can pull the whole tree over. I’ve heard of hanging the tree from the ceiling upside down, but that seems so weird. Any suggestions?

  12. says

    we had 3 cats now we have 2.
    we bought plastic ornaments that would not break.
    Could not stop them from climbing it.
    You could try tying a rope or nylon cord around the middle of the trunk and securing it to the wall.
    I say the middle since that is where it is the least noticeable.
    One Christmas morning we could not find one cat. Until my husband went too close to the tree and he ended up wearing the cat around his head. She had gotten to the top branches and was scared to jump. So when he got close she used him as her landing spot.
    You could also try hanging a few cat nip toys to the bottom branches that way she would stick to those. Have them easy off so she can have her mischief and you can have your tree.

  13. Linda says

    Great idea “grandma” about tying it to the wall. He dabs at all the ornaments for sure, so I guess if we tie those on too, he shouldn’t be able to get them off. I don’t think we have any glass ones. Seymour doesn’t care for catnip either–he’s a strange blk/white 15 lb 1 1/2 yr old “kitty.”

  14. Bea says

    I have a fake tree, but since I bought spruce scented potpourri, and evergreen scented candles from the dollar stores, it helps to make it seem like the tree is real, and gives that Christmas scent to the room.

  15. Barbara says

    I don’t have money for a Christmas Tree but a friend of mine gave me a great surprize he carved me a tree from a log using a chain saw. I decorate it like a regular tree and people get a kick out of it when they see it. Happy Holidays Barb

  16. ReadMoreMom says

    Below is a link to a tutorial for making the magazine Christmas trees. They can be spray painted gold or green or sprayed with spray adhesive and glitter added. We had a set of “carolers” with styrofoam heads and doily caps made out of magazines in a similar fashion that we put on our piano every Christmas. What a blast from my 1970s past! My 13 year old son is busily folding himself a tree!

  17. Vicki says

    I haven’t seen it, but a friend just went out and gathered plain old bare tree branches that looked good and made a branch tree. Made his own pole to put them in the holes and a stand. He then got a strand of lights that wouldn’t be a fire hazard and last I heard was trying to figure out how to decorate it cheaply.

  18. Sheri says

    We don’t use Christmas trees. We think it is a distraction from the meaning of Christmas. We made a manger to set all the presents under. If it is Jesus’ birthday, why do we get all the gifts? We open the gifts on New Years Day. On Christmas morning, Baby Jesus will be in the manger.

    I do like the pine smell! We have a Monterrey Pine in our front yard and two cedars to give us the smell.

    We hang lights or garland around the top of the room and hang all our decorations on that, or a few years, we put up a cross with lights and decorations. Our 1 Peter 2:24 tree! Too bad our cross and manger were eaten by termites in the backyard… We will have to make them again.

    Christmas morning, our children wake up to a food basket for breakfast. Then we try to remember Jesus and celebrate Him as the Gift and what can we give to Him for His birthday.

    I think my favorite Christmas tradition is my Nativity! One year, my neighbor gave us a ceramic Nativity. It is packed in shredded newspaper. Each night of advent, starting with the youngest, we pick one piece out of the shredded newspaper and tell the story from that piece’s point of view and place it on the mantle with museum wax. We try to save the baby Jesus for last. We also have Nativities that my children can play with and act out the story.

    I’m on the look out for ideas on how to keep the birth of Jesus fresh, new and meaningful.

    • says

      Yes we love our Nativity’s too. I had an almost life size one for years (it is a special antique one from the 1920’s which is wood and painted beautifully) which I then gave to Tawra and Mike. We usually set it up and build a stable like lean to out of pine branches. It is almost the size of a small room when we get done. One year in Idaho they had an ice storm which mess up many trees the week before we put up our decorations. We had mounds of branches that year for our stable and didn’t even have to cut them.

  19. Grizzly Bear Mom says

    In Germany the Christ child brings your presents.
    I was babysitting the Divorce Care class’s children and we had an advent wreath on which we lit a candle each week. We have class December 25th so I made Jesus a birthday cake and we lit the candles and sang happy birthday to him. One child said “it was the bestest cake ever.” Another said “where’s the ice cream?” Heart touching.

    A birthday song for Christmas
    What does Christmas really mean and what are we celbrating?
    It’s a wonderful time but I wonder if we forget to remember.
    The one who remember you and the one who remembered me.
    On a hill far away that shameful day when he paid our debt on Calvary.
    Happy Birthday gentle savior. Happy Birthday hear my plee.
    Take my life Lord as a token of what the birthday means to me.
    Life eternal, everlasting. Peace on earth. Good will to men.
    Happy Birthday, Gentle Savior, Happy Birthday Amen.

  20. Bea says

    Grizzly Bear Mom, I know people who do make a birthday cake for Jesus too. It is a nice idea. It helps get some of the focus off of us and things, and onto His gift to us. Advent starts this Sunday. I love Advent calendars and wreaths that you light each Sunday of Advent. It is so pretty and if you have one at home it is a nice reminder to prayer.

  21. Bea says

    Sherri and Jill, I love Nativity’s too. It so peaceful to look at one and imagine what the Holy Family went through that time of their lives. It’s so pretty. In Catholic Churches they always have Nativity’s inside and when Jesus is born on Christmas it’s a Polish custom to take some of the blessed hay from around His crib home as a blessing. There is even a Polish belief that if you take a little home and put it in your wallet you will Never be completely broke or moneyless.

  22. Peggy says

    We couldn’t afford a tree when my kids were small. We thumb tacked lights in the SHAPE of a tree to the wall. They loved the lights! Santa put gifts on the floor under the lights and we had wonderful Christmases just enjoying them. Merry Christmas everyone and have a wonderful new year!

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