22 of Our Most Creative Christmas Tree Decorating Ideas

muted ornaments christmas tree
Photo: Thomas Loof

A well-dressed Christmas tree is the focal point of holiday decorations in many homes, which is why the Tannenbaum gets decked out year after year in glowing lights and unique baubles. As the item that anchors the rest of your wintry décor, it's only natural to want your tree to stand apart from other holiday evergreens. From glittery gems and faux snowflakes to woodland birds and vintage figurines, there are plenty of different ways to give your tree a stately fairy-tale wonder.

We love bringing out the heirloom ornaments each year, but there's also great fun to be had in crafting something new. To start, we recommend choosing a theme and really running with it: Opt for layered felt animal shapes and a barnyard fence for a farm vibe—or try doily stars and snowflakes for an elegant winter-forward tree. The ideas that follow will bring new magic to what's already your family's favorite holiday centerpiece.

01 of 22

Textured Christmas Tree

christmas tree decorated with golden ornaments
Kirsten Francis

With a display this winning, who needs string lights? This tree is illuminated by shining spheres, from the baubles in its branches to the giant sequins lying beneath. The mix of finishes on the ornaments—from mirrored and yellow to matte and deep bronze—gives it rich texture, while wooden and wool accents keep it down-to-earth.

02 of 22

Scandinavian Christmas Tree

scandinavian christmas tree with wooden ornaments in living room
Roland Bello

Fromer crafts editor Silke Stoddard evokes a hygge holiday with her Christmas tree. When she recalls her childhood in Düsseldorf, Germany, the family used a natural minimalist design seen replicated here: a wooden-dowel tree with a mix of handmade straw and wood ornaments, bone-bead snowflakes and temari balls.

03 of 22

White Flocked Christmas Tree

white Christmas tree of pink and orange ornaments
Roland Bello

This faux tree, designed by Kevin Sharkey, is bedecked in fuchsia, orange, and coral handblown glass balls. White flocked trees, which were all the rage in the '50s and '60s, gives it a vintage vibe—something Martha likes to emulate in her own home come Christmas. The monochromatic effect makes it perfectly modernist, striking the ideal balance between retro and recent.

04 of 22

Fairylike Christmas Tree

Emily Thompson's fairytale Christmas tree
Roland Bello

Florist Emily Thompson shares her vision for a Christmas tree in an enchanted forest. A gargantuan Douglas fir sits on a mossy bed, trimmed with velvet ribbon and natural elements like spiky chestnuts, pinecones, magnolia, spiny datura, and okra pods. The pièce de résistance is a teensy ladder fashioned out of birch and twine, and a bunny poised to join a winter-solstice party within the branches.

05 of 22

Antique Christmas Tree

John Derian's Christmas tree of antique and vintage ornaments
Roland Bello

For collector John Derian, a love of Christmas antiques can be traced back to a faux tabletop tree he bought at a flea market more than a decade ago. This real one, placed on an antique spice canister, is carefully decorated with a mix of old ornaments and quirky handmade reproductions from the German company Nostalgie-Christbaumschmuck.

06 of 22

Crystallized Christmas Tree

crystal-inspired Christmas tree
Pernille Loof

We took a cue from Mother Nature's winter wardrobe for this gem of a tabletop tree, which is all dressed up in shades of icy blue, pale pink, and citrine. If you can string a bead, you can borrow her look with these jewelry-esque ornaments made from geodes, quartz, and shiny glass spheres.

07 of 22

Floral Fantasy Christmas Tree

Katya De Grunwald

This exuberant gold-tinsel tree is in full bloom for the season. The fabric flowers all started out white—we chose inexpensive hydrangeas, lilies, anemones, and cherry blossoms, then spray-painted them in a vibrant palette and gave them gold ballpick centers. For more glimmer, gold balls in various sizes were wired to the tree stand.

08 of 22

Dresden Christmas Tree

Katya De Grunwald

The ornaments on this Japanese pine tree, decorated by Eric Pike, span decades. The branches are hung with his collection of glass kugels, vintage lead ornaments, and 1970s silver snowflakes and stars (originally collected by his mother), as well as new glass balls. Ribbon hangers in shades of blue and green unify the look. The ribbon was also used to make medallion-style ornaments with silver Dresdens—die-cut embossed-paper shapes.

09 of 22

Bedecked in Baubles Christmas Tree

Katya De Grunwald

Like an exquisitely dressed party guest, this white tabletop tree is draped in fancy jewelry; it's then placed in a faceted gold vase. Metallic pink, copper, and gold ornaments and colorful glass "gems" dangle—many pendant-style, on chains—from the boughs. The chains on the lower branches are longer, emphasizing the dripping-with-jewels effect.

10 of 22

Birds Aligning Christmas Tree


When Hannah Milman, our former executive crafts director, created this tree, she was envisioning a winter party in the woods—complete with birds and other creatures decorating it. Glittered birds swoop in with silver ribbons to wind through the branches. The trees themselves are fashioned from birch logs and dried twigs.

To build a tree, drill a pilot hole in the bottom of a sturdy stick (preferably birch, measuring about 60 inches high) and the top of a log (also preferably birch, measuring 12 to 18 inches high and 8 to 10 inches wide). Screw a 5/16-inch double-sided screw into each stick, then into the log. Drill a 1/2-inch-deep hole in stick every several inches (for each branch), angling drill slightly downward. Then, drill one in top, straight down.

To complete the look, dab hot glue onto ends of branches and insert in holes. If desired, trim mushrooms and hot-glue to the log, and add batting to serve as snow.

11 of 22

Three-Ring Circus Christmas Tree

circus themed christmas tree
Katya de Grunwald

This display offers a different take on a three-ring circus. Its ringmaster? Our former crafts director, Marcie McGoldrick, wanted to create a fun, colorful vibe.

Taking vintage paper figures with movable parts as her inspiration, she made clip art of circus performers and animals to use as ornaments. They swing from trapezes and climb ladders (both made from striped paper straws), and frolic among honeycomb paper balls. The "tree" itself? A trio of graduated white wreaths, suspended from the ceiling with lengths of monofilament.

12 of 22

Frozen Wonder Christmas Tree

Katya De Grunwald

The icicles on this cool beauty evoke the tinsel that Sharkey loved when he was a child. To create this sophisticated display, he chose a silvertip fir with widely spaced boughs that allow plenty of room for the icicles, glitter-coated balls, and snowflakes. He hung ornaments right out to the ends of the branches so they would be weighed down, as in nature after a snowfall. The LED lights are on thin, bendable wire that blends into the tree, so all you see is the sparkle.

13 of 22

Geometric Christmas Tree

Christmas tree decorated with geometric brass hardware
Ryan Liebe

Triangles of thin brass tubing—commonly used for home details such as curtain rods—hang like modern icicles among the branches of this silvertip fir. To make the garland, snip pieces of tubing with an inexpensive cutting tool and string them onto mason's twine. The fluorescent string, used in bricklaying, adds a subtle hit of color.

14 of 22

Plaid Celtic Christmas Tree

Eric Piasecki Photography

This stout, radiant Norway spruce has been flocked using a nontoxic spray kit, so it appears as if it's dusted with snow. The tree is in a traditional stand that has been placed inside a galvanized tub. Create dimension with the ornaments by choosing a handful of plaid patterned baubles in different colors, shapes, and sizes.

15 of 22

Golden Christmas Tree


Sharkey punctuated this 10-foot-high flocked tree in his apartment with golden glass balls, then added new and vintage glass icicles. Cut felt serves as a tree skirt, sprinkled in snowdrift. Not only is it stunning for Christmas, but it will also serve as the perfect centerpiece to your New Years Eve décor.

16 of 22

Starry Night Christmas Tree

Christmas tree decorated with star ornaments
Johnny Miller

Don't reserve star ornaments for just your treetop—add some throughout your Yuletide evergreen to give it a starry night look. In keeping with the metallic mode, the container on this Tannenbaum is made from silver-sprayed twigs glued to a round pot. A splendidly decked-out concolor fir, enticing displays of cookies, and a crossed pair of linen runners painted with stars—who knew an entire holiday universe could exist on a tabletop?

17 of 22

Coastal Christmas Tree

christmas tree
Sang An

Channeling childhood summers on Cape Cod, Milman created a from-the-sea tree. Festooned with glittered beach finds and glass "buoy" ornaments, this blue spruce looks as if it washed up on a magical seashore. Shells, sea stars, and sand dollars are dusted with glitter—a single color, or two shades blended for an ombré effect—or simply left as is.

We wrapped gifts in simple papers fastened with lengths of twine; shells and sea stars tucked beneath the ties echo the tree's array. Holiday treasure is stashed in wire-mesh clamming baskets under the tree, which sits in a wooden bucket. A display of sea fans, shells, postcards, and sailboats completes the breezy scene.

18 of 22

Eastern Christmas Tree


Who says Christmas trees have to be fir? This Asian-inspired tree, adorned with a flock of dazzling birds, is pure flight of fancy. Inspired by the bonsai collection at the Arnold Arboretum in his native Boston, Sharkey created this enchanting roost using an artificial bonsai. Spray-painted gold and accented with glitter, it rises out of a traditional pot topped with moss and snow. Japanese-lantern ornaments provide a pleasing change of scale, but the crowning glories of this tree are the birds—coated in glitter and grouped in flocks of like colors.

19 of 22

Heavenly Christmas Tree


Adorn your tree with bright and shiny celestial symbols to represent the promise of the season. Here, delicate angels (made from cut-and-folded silver paper) flit among hand-formed ribbon stars, which glass ornaments provide bursts of color in between. A simply sewn tree skirt conceals the stand in fine fashion.

20 of 22

Frosted Christmas Tree


A Christmas tree dusted with snow looks even frostier when decorated exclusively in shades of silver, white, and cream. Simple paper-and-glitter ornaments mix well with vintage metallic pieces. Glitter ornaments are easy to make and can be saved from year to year.

21 of 22

Icicle Christmas Tree

Christmas tree decorated with icicle ornaments
Sang An

Take a cue from Mother Nature, and bring a winter wonderland indoors. These icicle ornaments will give your holiday décor a glistening glow. Whether it's a rare Victorian gilded paper icicle or a new, mica-dusted plastic one, these little slivers add magic to tabletops and trees alike. Use them sparingly or by the dozens, because unlike real ones, these beauties don't melt. Our ice-blue Lucite Christmas tree evokes the modern glamour of postwar America with its sparkling plastic icicles from the 1950s and '60s.

22 of 22

Jasperware Christmas Tree


Ornaments based on jasperware, the unglazed stoneware first produced by Wedgwood in the late 18th century, transform branches into a holiday display. Jasperware is known for its blue background and white cameo patterns, but antique and newer versions come in a variety of colors, in­cluding lilac and green. Create your own ornaments using Paperclay modeling material and German springerle-cookie molds, or paint store-bought architectural ornaments. The branches have been sprayed white and dusted with glittering mica flakes.

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