Christmas trees are the conifers of cut flowers: Beautiful but with short life spans. And, of course, they can be expensive. Just because you don’t have the bucks to spend on a tree this year doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the tradition of a Christmas tree. Let’s think about this for a minute. What says ‘Christmas tree’ to us? First and foremost, the scent. Next might be their green-ness and conical shape. Of course they support ornaments–which give the holiday its bling. And finally, they’re the place under which we can tuck Christmas gifts. Keeping this interpretation in mind, we can replicate the Christmas tree experience* absolutely free.
First is the old standby: Decorate a house plant. It’s green and it’s a great way to display your ornaments. Any houseplant will do, but the bigger the better (for that tucking gifts part). If you don’t have a plant or a suitable plant to tart up this season, and it’s in your budget, you might want to look for a Norfolk Island Pine. Now through Christmas you can find them everywhere. In your big box store, grocery store and even drug store. They’ll set you back anywhere from 5 bucks for a tiny one to about 20 for a big one. Benefits of Norfolk Island Pines are the fact that they’re incredibly easy to grow; they’ll last from Christmas to Christmas, while adding a little life to your space during the in-between times; AND they usually come already decorated this time of year.
Last year, Apartment Therapy posted this picture. I’m not sure how practical–space-wise–it is to erect a ladder in the middle of your living room, but it’s an option. It fulfils the conical shape requirement (sort of), it holds dozens of ornaments, and there’s abundant room underneath it for Christmas presents.
An unused, or little-used, tripod will take up less space than a ladder, but it will still have all the benefits of a ladder plus a much more believable tree shape AND you have the ability to vary its height. If you don’t have the bucks for fancy ornaments, not to worry. The red glass balls came from Target in a package of 10 for $2 and the silver bead garland was a Walgreens find, also for $2.
I think my favorite alt-Christmas tree might just be the Charlie Brown knock off. I found this twig in my back yard–but there’s plenty in the neighbor’s yard or the park down the street to choose from too. I popped it in a heavy-ish pot to offset the top-heaviness of the branch and finished up with bit of excelsior moss. There’s not a lot of room underneath it for presents, and it doesn’t hold a lot of ornaments. It does however make me want to dance like Snoopy to the tunes of Vince Guaraldi, and if that isn’t tradition, I don’t know what is.
*Except for the scent. Can’t replicate that.