Christmas Tree Alternatives For Apartments

A white living room decorated with gold and pastel colors at Christmas.
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Walking down the sidewalks of Manhattan, you’re likely to smell the fresh scent of pine needles wafting through the air. It seems on every street corner, Christmas tree vendors have parked themselves for the season, selling New Yorkers trees ranging from 10 footers to the tiniest of Charlie Brown trees.

Live trees aren’t for everyone, though. Whether you have allergies, concerns for the environment, or pets or small children who are likely to do more harm than good to the firs, there are several reasons a live tree just may not be your cup of tea. This doesn’t mean you can’t get in the holiday spirit! We’ve rounded up excellent Christmas tree alternatives which will provide just as much cheer throughout the season.

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If You Want Something on the Artsy Side, Try Craft Trees

Craft trees mean many different things to many different people, and perhaps the biggest beauty about them is: they all have their own personalities, just like their owners! We hear residents of Glenwood’s Briar Hill in Riverdale came up with the following rustic chic ideas in no time:

  • Spray paint pine cones, glue them to a cone shaped piece of foam, and add a star on top and little ornaments onto the edges. This is an easy activity to do with kids, and looks great on a dining room table all season long!
  • Gingerbread trees. You can get as creative as you’d like with the color of piping and type of candy used here, and of course have a blast eating all the leftovers.
  • Watercolor Christmas trees. Another favorite to make with children, and these have the added benefit of being scanned onto beautiful card stock and used as holiday cards to friends and family, or being framed and given as a Christmas gift to grandparents!

Where to Buy: You can purchase craft trees already made from local holiday markets, such as the Bryant Park Winter Village, or enjoy the do-it-yourself process, with a quick stop to a local craft store such as Michael’s on the Westside of Manhattan.

A brown cat playing with Christmas tree ornaments.
Photo Credit: Flickr

For a Real Tree Look, Go Artificial

Artificial trees come in every size, shape, and color possibly imaginable. Some are spot on ringers for the real thing, while others add a funky holiday flair (think: pink tinsel trees.) Artificial trees have a few added benefits you won’t get from the real thing, too. In addition to being kid, pet, and allergy friendly, they also:

  • Give you more bang for your buck. You can buy an artificial tree once, and use it for years to come.
  • Provide ease in decorating. There are several varieties which will come with lights already attached, meaning all you have to do is add a few ornaments, and voila! You’re done.
  • Maintain exact measurements. If you have a special nook in your Paramount Tower apartment you need a tree to fit into, there’s no exact guarantee when it comes to purchasing a real tree…it’s more of an estimation game. However, you can type tree measurements you need online for an artificial tree and get a perfect fit.

Where to Buy: Artificial trees can be purchased at many big box retailers, such as Home Depot, CVS, Target or Kmart. You can also find them online, and prices range from very inexpensive (and look it), to very high end and realistic in appearance. Buying in the city makes for an easy Uber ride home with your new tree, no matter which Glenwood apartment building you live in. Or, take advantage of free shipping promotions from many online retailers.

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Tight on Time to Decorate? Turn to Pre-lit Trees

Unlike artificial and craft trees which require at least a little effort on your part, the best thing about pre-lit trees is that they literally require zero effort, and come in a variety of sizes. Simply plug in and you’re done—no ornaments or tinsel needed! These are great because they fit many different decorating styles for your apartment, whether you prefer something vintage, rustic, minimalist, traditional, or modern. If you go with all white (clear) lights, you can create more of a winter wonderland feel, as opposed to a straight-up Christmas tree full of ornaments.

Where to Buy: As New Yorkers, there’s really nothing simpler than placing an order through Amazon, and lucky for us, there’s plenty of selection for pre-lit trees on their site!

A purple living room with a Christmas tree alternative made up of holiday greeting cards.
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Combine Your Holiday Card Display with Your Tree

Another DIY project, which involves a large piece of foam core or cardboard (or plywood). Cut into the shape of a tree (2-D), and paint if desired. Then staple or glue the ends of ribbons across the “boughs,” keeping them fairly snug. As your Christmas cards are received, “hang” them like ornaments from the ribbon. To get things going, you might want to start with any cards you’ve saved from past years (especially sentimental ones), and as new cards arrive, add them to your tree.

What kind of tree are you planning to put up this year? Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!