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Semi-Homemade, Rustic Mini Trees for Your Mantel, Table, Etc.

November 29, 2016

When it comes to holiday decorations, it’s tempting to just lug down a crate of yesteryear’s sparkly things from the attic and have at your mantel, your tabletop, and your doorframe with what you’ve got. And if those decorations feel crusty or dated, the only move to pick up expensive new ornaments to decorate the tree—right? You know where this is going: Nope.

When our Art Director Alexis Anthony goes looking for a specific prop or decoration for a Shop photo, she's not afraid to make it—often by seizing the obvious object on hand and giving it a clever once-over. Here's how she transformed a grove of plastic green "mini-village bristle trees" into pale, fluffy rustic trees that have the look of a handmade decoration. You might already have the parts to make them on hand!

Halfway homemade. Photo by Bobbi Lin

What you'll need:

Photo by Rocky Luten

How to make them:

Dunk the green Christmas trees in a bucket of water mixed with a splash of bleach, leaving them to soak for about an hour. Wearing gloves (and some clothes you’re not worried about), pull out two by the bases and scrub the branches against each other to remove the green color and the "snow," which will have gotten a little gunky. Continue scrubbing, dipping the trees in the bleach bath between scrubbings and then under running water to rinse, until completely pale. Set out in the sun to dry.

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Make tree skirts by cutting out squares of tissue paper, setting the tree base in the middle of them, and tying them to the base with a simple bow of baker’s twine.

In situ at our holiday market last year. Photo by Alyssa Ringler

We originally ran this DIY last holiday season, but are bringing it back around in case you're looking for easy, wintry decor ideas. (And if you're looking for the tinsel and baby's breath's tricks, they're coming back in a new post later this week.)

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“And, of course, look on E-bay for the old, lead tinsel. It is amazingly beautiful if properly hung!”
— Gregg

What holiday decor are you making yourself this year? And what are you recycling from last year? Share with us in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Gregg
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    Merrill Stubbs
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    Amanda Sims
Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.


Gregg November 16, 2016
And, of course, look on E-bay for the old, lead tinsel. It is amazingly beautiful if properly hung!
Merrill S. December 22, 2015
Hooray for proper tinsel usage!
Amanda S. December 22, 2015
You know it!
COLLEEN G. December 8, 2015
i thought i was the only one who still did tinsel,and i do it the right way!
Colleen S. December 7, 2015
a new paper chain and fresh popcorn garland for the tree!
Shelley December 3, 2016
A paper chain with handwritten notes naming the people and things you have been grateful for all year.