How to: Make Modern Perforated Tabletop Christmas Trees

How to: Make Modern Perforated Tabletop Christmas Trees

It's not surprising that I spend quite a bit of time at the craft store. As a full-time craft, design, and art blogger, I've grown quite familiar with my looped route of hardware store/craft store/art supply shop/other craft store/supermarket...in that order.


So, it's always a pleasant surprise when I find some new material or media I've never seen before, and to think of all kinds of cool stuff to do with it. This holiday season, it was the papier-mache cone. Since it's not with the other compressed paper boxes, letters, and forms, it slipped under my radar for the last, oh, two hundred and ninety visits. But, I discovered these little guys when working on my 2011 holiday centerpiece. And the possibilities just kept coming.

So, I was inspired by some little porcelain trees from West Elm, which are now...sold out! (And were...pricey!) No matter, we're gonna make out own by the dozens, for less than $1.00 a piece.

Materials and Tools

  • Papier-mache cones, available in the doll making section of the craft store
  • Electric drill and assorted drill bits
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Optional: Rotary tool and grinding bit
  • Matte white spray paint - I used Krylon Flat White Indoor/Outdoor

created at: 12/07/2011

1. Begin by chucking two-three small bits into your drill, and start making holes in a random pattern. I chose to make mine a little more dense and the bottom, and let them thin out towards the top. As you see in the photo, drilling into paper doesn't always leave a smooth hole, but it can be smoothed out with sandpaper.

created at: 12/07/2011

2. If you happen to have a rotary tool like a Dremel or Roto-zip, you can use a small grinding bit to smooth out the holes while maintaining the circular shape. If not, use a pencil or small dowel rod with the sandpaper to make everything smooth.

created at: 12/07/2011

3. Take your trees outside or into a well-ventilated area, and give it a coat of flat white paint. Using flat white transforms these guys into looking like spray-painted cardboard to actual ceramic. Cool, right?

created at: 12/07/2011

4. Spray painting sanded cardboard will likely make the texture a little...fuzzy. So, sand once more until smooth, and give it a final coat of spray paint.

created at: 12/07/2011

That's it. You can make a whole whimsical forest of these guys in not much more time, and for around a dollar a piece. For an extra punch, use a few LED tea lights to make 'em glow with holiday cheer!


Looking for more seasonal DIY projects and ideas?


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Anonymous on Sep 29, 2014:

Love this idea! A fun addition might be to line the inside with small scraps of lighting gel to get the effect of Christmas lights.

Kyle on Jun 16, 2014:

Injoyed making these a lot, my son keeps them lit in his room all year.

Emily Flippin Maruna on Dec 04, 2012:

Hi, Just wanted you to know that I liked these so much I blogged about them here - http://emilyflippinmaruna.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/must-make-monday-not-your-usual-holiday-decorations/

Vicki on Nov 26, 2012:

I just made these!! Thanks so much for the idea! But...I found the cones in the cake decorating section...FYI! Again, thanks for a great idea!

Tina on Nov 26, 2012:

I'm always thinking I can find something else to do with it this idea was perfect for a bunch of plastic serger cones I saved years ago (quite a few). I could never come up with the Perfect craft and Finally I did I used the plastic cones instead of the papermache ones turned out wonderful! Thanks for the idea!!!

Dianne A on Aug 17, 2012:

I love these. I think I will make some and spray them with silver glitter (it's sold during halloween) over the white. Thanks for sharing your talent.

Dianne A on Aug 17, 2012:

I love these. I think I will get some of the silver glitter in a can (the one they sell for halloween, also comes in gold) and spray that over the white.

Dianne A on Aug 17, 2012:

I love these. I'm going to make some, ok lots but I think I will try spraying (over the white spray paint) with the silver (or gold) spray glitter you can get in a can at halloween time. And if you hit the store the day after halloween you can usually get it on sale.


Louise on Dec 29, 2011:

Love these! I have a slight obsession with 'cone' christmas trees... I'm going to have to check out the doll section. It sounds like they are less expensive than the styrofoam cones... I just found your blog via two other blogs about 2 different projects in literally less than 2 minutes! I have to be your next subscriber!

Anonymous on Dec 19, 2011:

There's also that fake white clay stuff crayola makes. It comes out very smooth and white.  If you used it and a paper template, you could do this without drilling or painting. 

Emily on Dec 09, 2011:

I think I might attempt this with cardstock and hole punches!

Donna on Dec 09, 2011:

Found your post on pinterest.  A-MAZ-ING!!!!  I'm going to look for some of those cones this afternoon!  You could really do a lot of variations with this, but the white is so elegant.  I plan on whipping up a few of these for my table centerpiece (with the LED tealights - brilliant!!).  Thank you!  :)

susan on Dec 09, 2011:

I could see a whole forrest of these trees on my entertainment center. Today while at the stire I'll see if they have these cones. I think I'll see if they'll look good in teal and pink - some of the colours I am decorating with this year.

StacieMakeDo on Dec 08, 2011:

This is a really neat project. I wonder what else I can drill holes in :)

Caitlin @ Desert Domicile on Dec 08, 2011:

Those are great! I can't wait to make a mini forest for my fireplace mantel :)

Rox on Dec 08, 2011:

This looks great!

I'm not sure our local crafts store has the cones, but I'll try to make my own.

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