We Asked 3 DIYers to Decorate Mini Christmas Trees with Just $15—and They Wowed Us
What makes the holidays special are the traditions: making cookies, wrapping gifts, hanging lights, and more. But this year was a weird one, and many traditions have gone to the wayside as everyone tries to figure out their new normal.
If you’re finding yourself decorating for Christmas for the first time—because you’re spending it alone for the first time, or because you’re looking to bring some extra cheer to a stressful year—you might feel overwhelmed by the options… and the price tags. But don’t worry! You can easily bring some Christmas spirit to your home on the cheap.
To prove it, we challenged three DIYers to put their own stamp on a plain tabletop Christmas tree for just $15. With a little hands-on crafting and a lot of creativity, each of them came up with a budget-wise tree that’s fit for seasonal celebrating—whether it’s the only bit of holiday decor in your home, or just one piece of many. Read on to see their transformations.
The boho-minimalist tree
“I knew I wanted to keep it simple and organic to reflect our home,” Jessica says. While she initially wanted to include dried florals, she couldn’t find anything she liked for less than $15 per bundle. So instead, to get the natural look, she shopped the grocery store where she snagged clementines for just $3 for a two-pound bag.
To turn the clementines into decor, Jessica thinly sliced one and placed the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then, she baked them in the oven at 170 degrees for a few hours, flipping them over every hour to ensure an even finish.
She only needed one piece of fruit for her tiny tree, so the rest are snack-ready—what a win!
The other natural element Jessica knew she wanted to add was a wood bead garland. She purchased $5 worth of beads for this, then strung them on twine. “The easiest part of the project was definitely the wooden garland!” Jessica says. All it took was a few minutes and a steady hand.
Once Jessica was done with her garland and clementines, it was time to make the final element: a pom pom tree topper made from cream-colored yarn, which she scored for just $3. The DIY pom pom took just a couple minutes to craft and left Jessica with plenty of leftover yarn to use for another future project.
Here’s how Bui’s tree came out once she added everything on. “I’m super happy I decided to keep it simple with just three items and a minimalist organic theme,” Bui says. But the style of this tree would complement tons of different decor styles, including Scandi, farmhouse, and boho spaces.
Unsurprisingly, Bui is no stranger to crafting her own decor, so this project went off (mostly) without a hitch. “I’m usually working with small budgets for projects, so always trying to ‘MacGyver’ some sort of DIY,” Bui says. “I think the biggest challenge was underbuying since you don’t need many items for a small tree! I’m used to overbuying sometimes.”
The total cost for this tree came in under the $15 budget, though:
- String and orange ties: $3
- One clementine from a 2-pound bag: $3 (for the whole bag)
- Wooden beads: $5
- Yarn: $3
The sweet little tree is perfect for its new home—Bui’s kitchen, where the clementine slice ornaments will fit right in.
The colorful tree with trendy 2020 touches
Erika Ver of Peony and Honey (@peonyandhoney) wanted to give her tree a little bit of her signature “glamhemian century modern” style: “It’s totally made up, but it’s because I love mixing styles!” Erika says. “I love the colors and natural textures within the boho style of decorating, but I also love the clean lines of mid-century modern, and the polish of glam decor.”
Ver thankfully has plenty of experience in revamping her tree: “Every year I try to come up with a different unique way to decorate a tree,” she says. “Sometimes that involves florals, feathers, and other non-traditional ornaments. I think it’s fun to play around with how you decorate your tree, so I love experimenting with creating different ornaments!”
When Ver saw this tiny tree, she says, she knew it needed a bit of flocking and a more interesting base. The flocking was easy—Ver picked up a can at the dollar store to give the tree a slightly frosted look. For the base, she grabbed three foam rings from Amazon (just $3 total) and painted them with a combo of leftover paint mixed with baking powder. The slightly gritty, matte results make the foam look like terracotta; stacked up and glued together, they create a cool “pot” for the tree. “It’s such a fun architectural look with minimal effort or skills needed to assemble it,” Ver says.
To make tiny ornaments, Ver used a mix of acrylic earrings she ordered in a bag from Amazon ($9). Once she pulled out the earring hooks and instead subbed ornament hooks, no one could tell these were meant to hang from lobes and not on trees.
Finally, Ver made her tree topper using a wood star and bamboo skewers, both of which she got from the dollar store. She glued the skewers to the star then cut the excess to create a star with fluted details—something she’s been seeing everywhere. “The fluted style has really taken off this year, and I just the love texture!” Ver says.
While precisely cutting the bamboo skewers was trickier than she anticipated, Ver’s still happy with how they turned out. “It’s not perfect, but it’s still so cute I think,” she says.
Put it all together, and you get a colorful tree that taps into some of 2020’s best trends: fluted details, funky shapes, speckled paint jobs, and architectural planters. Ver has it sitting in her guest room, where it pops against the pink walls. “Fortunately, I’m super frugal as is, so I actually didn’t find it too hard to stick to the budget. Dollar Tree was my best friend with this project!” Ver says. Here’s how her costs broke down:
- Wood Star: $1
- Bamboo skewers: $1
- Acrylic earrings: $9
- Foam Rings: $3
- Flocking spray: $1
The tree made for plant lovers
When she first saw the tabletop tree, Watkins says, “I was initially excited that it had lights and then concerned that the tree was too small for any larger sizes ornaments. I knew I wanted to infuse botanical elements, but wasn’t sure the tree size would allow it.”
To add some natural style without taking up a ton of real estate (or budget), Watkins reached for pampas grass ($4.50 for the bundle). “Pampas grass has been growing in popularity and I wanted to use some as garland for my tree,” she says. She snipped a few sprigs of it and wound it around the tree like a garland, leaving the fluffy ends exposed for interest.
Once she finished the garland, Watkins added a topper made with a few sprigs of pampas grass taped together.
Watkins also wanted to add some potted greens to this small tree to help it mimic the look of the big one. She purchased six mini terracotta pots ($1 each) and gave them each a Moroccan treatment with small-scale painted patterns in white and pink. “I just adore how they give the tree a bit of global style flair and that boho look,” Watkins says.
After tucking some greens into her pots—which she clipped off plants in her yard—Watkins strung up the pots with yarn to hang on the tree. “The hardest was figuring out how to hang the mini pots with the yarn,” she says. “The pots were very light and there was hardly any weight to them to keep the yarn anchored.” If you’re doing the project at home, a little glue underneath the bottom of the pot will help secure the yarn in place.
In the end, Watkins has a festive tree that’s a plant-lover’s dream. “What I love best about this tree is that it shows that you can be unique in how you decorate for the season by using things you have around the house or simply in your yard,” she says. “The evergreen sprigs I put in these pots make the kitchen smell so Christmasy!”
Here’s the total breakdown for how much she spent to get her plant-happy look:
- 6 mini terracotta pots: $6
- White and pink paint: $2
- Yarn: $2
- Dried pampas grass: $4.50
- Evergreen and wintergreens for the pots: $0