6 Ways to Bring Holiday Spirit to a Room Without a Traditional Christmas Tree

From a festive table spread to window displays and more, interior designers share their best tips for decorating sans an evergreen.

festive holiday wreath above fireplace decorated with garland and gift boxes
Photo: Getty / LightFieldStudios

As fun and festive as Christmas trees can be, not everyone has room for one. Fortunately, there's an assortment of stylish ways to deck your smaller halls for the holidays. For example, instead of putting up your pine, look to your walls, ceilings, door, and window frames for places to add holiday cheer.

If you're thinking through options for your home, consider small pieces that have a big design impact, says Lauren Ramirez of Lauren Ramirez Interiors. "My family lived overseas in rural Africa for three years and we were forced to get creative about holiday décor, since there were no Christmas trees available," she says. "I used stockings as the main focal point by hanging one for each member of the family on the wall above our fireplace with some red ribbons."

Looking for advice on how to give a room holiday spirit without a traditional tree? We asked a few designers to share some of their suggestions to help inspire your own festive pursuits.

hanging ornaments from doorway as christmas decoration

1. Hang Ornaments Everywhere

Never underestimate the impact of a room filled with dazzling holiday ornaments, says John McClain of John McClain Design. "Decide on a color palette and string up some beautiful ornaments in that color scheme throughout a room," he says. "You can hang them at different lengths from doorways and light fixtures throughout your home, or from the ceiling with a festive ribbon and a thumbtack."

Woman hanging christmas wreaths inside home as christmas decor

2. Create a Spirited Window Display

Decorating your windows is a beautiful alternative to having a Christmas tree in your home, says Kate Taylor, an interior designer based in Chicago, Ill. "Adorning your windows with bows, wreaths, twinkle lights, and even strings of ornaments can make your space feel festive, but not crowded," she says.

Additionally, Haley Weidenbaum, a designer and founder of Everhem, suggests integrating some holiday foliage into your window scene. "Faux garlands look great draped on window ledges," she says.

Tree garland over fireplace
Olena Ruban / GETTY IMAGES

3. Dress Up a Fireplace

If you have a fireplace at home, use it as a focal point for your holiday décor, recommends Becky Shea, an interior designer and lifestyle entrepreneur in New York City. "We love to use evergreen layered with juniper, eucalyptus, and dried florals," she says. "To give it even more character, pair wooden or ceramic elements to create a layered effect that gives volume to the mantel."

If you don't have any organic items available, Breegan Jane, a Los Angeles-based designer, suggests grouping candles in warm, neutral colorways to add a bit of oomph to the scene.

Rustic decor for christmas holiday. Centerpiece with white candle, dry orange, cones, cotton. Zero waste eco friendly home decoration.

4. Set a Festive Table Spread

Your dining room table is brimming with holiday design potential. "DIY a spirited centerpiece by filling a bowl with sparkly ornaments or fresh seasonal fruit like pomegranates, oranges, and pears," says Ramirez. Alternatively, you can also arrange branches or ornaments in a glass vase with firefly lights for a twinkling tablescape display, suggests Cagney Krzywosinski of Hyphen & Co.

Tree scented candle burning by winter window

5. Burn Tree-Scented Candles

When you can't fill your home with the scent of a real Christmas tree, consider recreating the fragrance with candles, instead, notes Lily Lanahan, designer and founder of Elizabeth Lake. "Sprinkle your side tables with candles in scents specific to the holiday season," she says. "Candles with notes of pine, cedarwood, or fir evoke the holiday spirit because of their woody fragrance."

Christmas garland along stairwell in home

6. Get Creative With Foliage

A garland can go a long way if you're skipping a Christmas tree. "For most urban dwellers, there simply isn't enough space to add a Christmas tree into the mix," says Molly Torres Portnof of DATE Interiors. With this in mind, opt for swags of greenery, like pine or eucalyptus, says Anna Kroesser of Kroesser + Strat Design. "We love eucalyptus because the real stuff smells great, but the faux looks just as good and is less delicate, so it will be easier to reuse year after year," she says.

As for the best places to hang your swags? Mark Lavender of M. Lavender Interiors recommends areas of your home with prominent ledges, such as a fireplace mantel, window frames, doorways, and stair rails. "Integrate seasonal items, such as pomegranates, pine cones, nuts, and berries, into the greens to liven it up," he adds.

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