6 Christmas Tree Alternatives for Small Spaces That Still Promise to Make Your Home Feel Festive

If you don't have the space for a traditional tree, try one of these designer-approved options instead

A living room decorated for Christmas with a decorated twig tree, a stack of firewood, and hanging paper star shades
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Christmas celebrations are in full swing and we're desperate to decorate our home to the nines. The holidays are no time for minimalism or restraint, the more glitter and sparkle the better. However, in smaller homes and rooms, where you can't fit a traditional tree, how should you decorate?

Most Christmas decorating ideas revolve around the tree which is infuriating for those of us who struggle to fit one into our living room. Fortunately, there are many alternative ways of bringing festive cheer no matter the space you have available, and interior designers are encouraging people to try something new this year and go against the traditional look. 

Whether you're tight on space or just looking to switch up your decor, take a look at these six, expert-approved Christmas tree alternatives to try this festive season.

1. Dress up your fireplace

a fireplace strung with christmas ornaments

(Image credit: David Lawson)

'One great Christmas tree alternative is to dress up a fireplace,' says Mariya Snisar, Head of Interior Design at Renowell. Mantel decor provides the perfect opportunity to decorate for Christmas. The plain surface is just begging to be adorned, and it doesn't have to take up any extra space.

The mantlepiece can be decorated in a variety of ways, and it provides a great way to display ornaments without a tree. 'Hang a garland made of greenery, pinecones, and ornaments along the mantel,' says Mariya. 'Place a collection of holiday candles or lanterns on the mantel for a warm and cozy atmosphere and display festive stockings.' The result will be wonderfully festive you won't even think about wanting a Christmas tree. Alternatively, go for something more traditional like a lit-up garland decorated with sprigs of holly and pinecones.

2. Vignettes

sideboard with a christmas vignette

(Image credit: Lindye Galloway)

'I’m really embracing the trend for little Christmas vignettes around my home,' says Livingetc's Deputy Editor, Ellen Finch. 'With no traditional spots like staircase or mantelpiece to decorate, this is the perfect alternative.'

Vignettes are so versatile you can construct them wherever you have the space and make them as big or small as you'd like. They can make a great table centerpiece but consider side tables and kitchen shelves too. 'I will be curating displays of one-off ornaments, foraged greenery, and beaded decorations that’ll deliver little moments of joy whenever I spot them,' says Ellen. We love how this trend can work around the home to spread the festive cheer from room to room.

3. Create a decorative branch

Christmas entryway by Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

Winter floral arrangements are tricky at this time of year, so why not opt for a branch that you can decorate with lights and sparkly accessories? 

'I like to create a branch tree,' says Mariya. 'Collect some branches or twigs and arrange them in a vase or container and hang ornaments, lights, and decorations on the branches for a rustic and natural Christmas tree alternative.' This idea can be adapted based on space and personal preference and is the perfect way to display your ornaments and create a unique focal point. If you have houseplants in your Christmas living room, why not use them as a substitute for a tree instead and decorate them with ornaments and lights?

4. Wreaths

a living room decorated for christmas

(Image credit: Josh Young Design House)

Wreaths are everywhere this year and they're not being restricted to the front door. There are many other places to put a wreath that will instantly update your home's decorations. Interior designers and our editors alike are hopping on this trend this year, and we think it's the perfect decor choice for a small living room.

'Early on in the festive period this year, I saw this clever hack on Instagram for a way to attach a wreath to the front of a shelf, or fireplace,' says Livingetc's Digital Editor Hugh Metcalf. 'It uses these Command Hooks with straps from Amazon and has meant I can hang a wreath in a whole different way in my home this year. It looked great on the fireplace, but I decided to put it on some shelves in my living room as part of my home’s festive makeover.'

If wall space is aplenty in your house this is a great way to decorate a blank space without taking up precious floor space.

5. Make a flat tree on the wall

A wall-hanging Christmas tree alternative

(Image credit: IKEA)

If you're still desperate to have a 'tree', why not consider a flat tree alternative for a wall, like this one from Amazon, or you can DIY something similar. 'Hang string lights in the shape of a tree on a blank wall,' says Mariya. 'You can add small adhesive hooks to help guide the shape.' 

There are also more structured flat trees that you can hang decorations off of. 'If you are looking for a Christmas tree alternative for small spaces opt for wall-mounted Christmas trees,' says Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder of Arsight. 'Utilize the space to create a vertical display of lights, tinsel, and ornaments.'

6. Lights and Tinsel

hanging starburst Christmas lights

(Image credit: Amazon)

Christmas lights and tinsel don't need to be reserved for a tree, either. Utilize these materials liberally across your home to turn even the most mundane pieces of furniture into a festive spectacle.

'Decorate windows or doorways by putting up lights and hanging out decorations that will save space as they offer a way to let in festive feelings,' says Artem. 'Lights and tinsels can transform an ordinary object, such as a ladder, into a specialty for Christmas.' 

Even if you can't find space for a tree, it doesn't mean you can't decorate other objects in your home in a similar way. Be inventive with your decor this year and spread festive cheer in less traditional ways - all that's left to do is scatter the gifts under your makeshift 'tree'!

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.