Have your tree and leave it, too.
If you plan to travel over the Christmas holiday, you’re faced with a choice: whether or not to get a tree. In the pre-COVID era, we’d fly home to Australia every year, but I always felt a little pang of guilt if I bought a tree. It seemed like a wild extravagance if no one was going to be home to enjoy it. But not having a tree made me feel robbed of the pleasure of decorating for the holiday. It was a décor dilemma.
This year, I’m having it both ways. I’ve spent hours searching the internet for stylish alternatives to the traditional live Christmas tree, so you don’t have to. These are the chicest and best alternatives I’ve found:
Best Artificial Tree
This is the obvious choice when you're planning to be away for Christmas. But the good ones are costly, and if you don't always travel for Christmas, this might not be the best alternative. Yes, they are made from plastics and are hideous for the environment, but if you're committed to buying one and promise to keep it for years (and donate or sell it when you tire of it), you could be forgiven for buying one. Balsam Hill makes the best ones out there. To me, this is the best-looking and most realistic version. You will have to store it, but at least you'll get to use all of your favourite ornaments without having to worry about watering or a fire hazard while you’re away.
Best Flocked Tree
If you are going the artificial route I think a flocked tree is a great idea. Flocking hides a lot of sins, so you can get away with buying a cheaper tree. A flocked tree is something I could see using every other year instead of a real tree. There are a lot of good-looking, budget-friendly versions out there, and the neutrality of the white “snow” flocking gives you a more neutral canvas to play with, so you can try some non-traditional colour palettes.
Best Pink Tree
There is something so outrageously tacky about a pink tree that I think it almost becomes chic (depending on how you decorate it). Get the lightest shade of pink you can find and try and keep it simple with a sophisticated palette to avoid dipping into the dreaded Barbie territory…unless you're into that, then I say have fun and go for it!
Best Tabletop Trees
I’m not a fan of any fake plant trying to be real. But an artificial tabletop Christmas tree is less offensive to me than fake flowers (ugh). Plus, they store easily and unlike the full-size versions, can be grouped into cute tablespaces to create a charming Christmas vignette. You can find well-priced realistic ones or go Scandi/Minimalist with one of these guys.
Best Wooden Tree
The pared-back, Scandi style of these wooden trees is almost refreshing to come home to after the visual overload of garish metallics and red-and-green everything. I like this one left unadorned, with maybe a festive tree skirt and (if you must) maybe some rustic felt ornaments to emphasize the Nordic charm of this non-tree.
Best Twig Tree
If you favour more minimalist holiday décor, why not consider a couple of these twig trees? They look great just bare, grouped in pairs, or even decorated with neutral ornaments. They can also serve double duty for festive parties, and post-Christmas.
Best Metal Tree
I love the idea of a huge outdoor tree indoors. Strung with lights and decorated with a garland or Pampas Grass, it would be a big Christmas moment with bags of style.
Best Hanging “Tree”
If space is a premium (or you just want some extra Holiday oomph) these hanging "trees" are great for displaying cards or ornaments. The ladder style is perfect for the beach or more rustic interiors, and this ironic canvas version is fantastic for a teen's room.
Best DIY Trees
I am now obsessed with this pinecone tree idea. I walk past those scented bags of pinecones every year and always buy some because I love the smell, but mostly end up chucking them in the fire after Christmas (they make every effective fire starters, by the way). The other one I love is this darling succulent tree. You already know I adore a succulent arrangement, so I can keep my Thanksgiving versions going through New Year!
Of course, you can always forgo a tree altogether and add your festive touches with a timeless wreath or garland. Both are virtually maintenance-free and will help usher in the holiday without too much effort or expense. And you can always use them again on the table if you decide to stay home next year!
Let me know how you decide to go, and if you send us photos, we'll tag you!