DIYdiy projectsholidays

3 Trees 3 Ways

by Maxwell Tielman

Like the snowflakes that cover the ground this time of year, it seems no two Christmas trees are alike. Available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and — for those who prefer the artificial kind — materials, the Christmas tree is a blank canvas for expressing our vision of the holidays. This year, the Design*Sponge team decided to express our own individual holiday visions, each applied to a small Christmas tree. From pink yarn tassels to sliced birch tree branches, the DIY projects applied to our trees are as different as they are charming. Better yet, each project and look is quick, easy and wonderfully inexpensive! For more images, inspiration and instructions, continue after the jump! — Max


I’ve been hoarding this pink neon yarn (you know me and neon) and figured it was time to give it its moment. Using a simple tassel technique, I made some quick and simple tassels to hang around the tree and finished it off with some star ribbon that was left over from our DIY Etsy wreath class a couple weeks ago. Because it seems like neon and gold have been everywhere this year, I wanted to give them one last hurrah before retiring them for some fresh 2013 trends.


Something about the Charlie Brown-ness of this tree made me want to go super minimal, and what’s easier than white spray-painted pinecones? I wanted something to stand in for ball ornaments, so I thinly sliced some birch logs and then drilled holes. Everything is hung with simple twine. For the star, I stuck an array of nails to one of the pieces of sliced birch and then drilled two holes so that I could attach it to the tree with copper wire. The result feels a bit like a Scandinavian Christmas (with a little Canadian flair, courtesy of the Hudson Bay Blanket).


I’m so used to plastic, glass or metallic ornaments, so I really wanted to make a departure from that and go with something more natural. I also wanted to create a cohesive look that was warm and cozy — a contrast to the chilly weather outside. I thought that wood would be an ideal material because of its warm tone and connections to fireplaces and the forest. The garland on the tree was created by stringing dozens of small mismatched wooden beads onto twine. The round ornaments were made using 1.5-inch wooden balls (available at most craft and art stores) with a small eyelet screw in the top. I achieved the red stripes on the ornaments by blocking off sections of the wooden balls with painter’s tape and applying red acrylic paint. The starburst ornaments were created by taking small cuts of wooden dowels, hot-gluing them together in a star form, and securing them with several layers of twine.

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  • These decorations are pretty, but they feel cold and calculated, like the Christmas trees you see in office lobbies. Surely I’m not the only one who prefers strands of lights and a hodgepodge of mismatched ornaments that have been handmade, purchased, and received over the years. These trees lack the warmth and tradition that make Christmas trees so special.

    • caroline

      sorry you feel that way- they don’t feel that way to me at all. all three of these trees (except for the trees themselves) are almost 100% handmade- we made the decorations ourselves as a team here in the office. to me, nothing’s warmer than handmade yarn ornaments ;)


  • Here in New Zealand we have a native “Christmas” tree, the pohutukawa, which blossoms in gorgeous fiery red blooms as soon as the weather turns warm (which it does here in December) – your yarn tree really reminds me of it Grace! Even the shape of the “blooms”. Fabulous, thanks for the inspiration :)

  • I love these! If you have a small space and are just starting out, or have downsized, what a nice selection of ways to to small trees!

    Even if you wanted to do a second tree for another room in the house. I would love to have Amy’s tree somewhere if I had the room!