How to Fake a Department Store-Worthy Christmas Tree—Using Only Thrift Store Finds

published Dec 13, 2019
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Credit: Cat Meschia

If you’ve oohed and ahhed over fancy-looking, professionally decorated department store Christmas trees but thought that high-end look was out of reach, we’ve got good news. You don’t have to shell out big bucks to get big style—instead, look to the same place where you go for secondhand furniture and cool vintage clothes. That’s right: For a totally chic (and no-waste) Christmas display, it’s time to hit up the thrift store. Here’s how to turn the finds above into Christmas tree gold.

Credit: Cat Meschia

1. First, pick up a book or two

You’ll be using individual pages, so reach for anything with damaged or missing pages. Using only damaged or incomplete books means you’ll be repurposing something that was likely destined for the landfill.

Credit: Cat Meschia

2. Stock up on kiddie toys

Look for small plastic toys in a variety of shapes, from animal figurines to cars. Color doesn’t matter here—instead, try for a fun mix of silhouettes.

Credit: Cat Meschia

3. Grab some small frames

Aim for frames that are about 2-inches-by-3-inches, in a range of shapes and materials.

Credit: Cat Meschia

4. Hit the craft store for supplies

You’ll need metallic spray paint (we used Rust-Oleum Imagine in both brass and gold finishes), small eye screws, ribbon, and photos to fit your frames. You’ll also need a drill, a hot glue gun, and a pair of scissors.

5. Spray your toys and frames

Put down paper and give your toys and frames a metallic finish. You might need a couple coats to fully cover. Spray the eye screws, too.

6. Twist eye screws into the toys, then add a ribbon to hang

Depending on how tough the material is, you might need to create a small pilot hole using a drill first.

7. Add photos to the frames, then attach a ribbon to hang

Place your photos in the frames then use a hot glue gun to attach your ribbons.

Credit: Cat Meschia

8. Turn your book pages into paper snowflakes

Cut a variety of paper snowflake shapes using pages from your book. Make a larger one to use as a tree topper.

Credit: Cat Meschia

9. Hang and admire

Wrap your tree with string lights, then hang your ornaments. Sit back and admire your upcycled decorating. Merry Christmas decorating!