11 creative Christmas tree solutions – Melania Trump, eat your heart out

  • From ones you can grow in a pot all year round to using books, planks or upcycled materials in the shape of a tree, anything goes
  • We’ve got you covered on the maddest choices on the market
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 November, 2018, 10:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 November, 2018, 11:18am

As the Trumps celebrate their second Christmas in the White House, Melania Trump has unveiled another unusual festive home makeover.

In 2017, she created a frosty scene of twigs; this year she chose to deck the halls with a forest of imposing crimson that Twitter users quickly likened to the red robes worn in dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale.

With her propensity for unconventional and, some might say, disturbing adornments, media-shy Melania has sparked speculation she is trying to send a message about life as America’s first lady; others say she is simply trying to do something a bit different and break the presidential tradition of conventional green firs.

What Melania’s interior decor ideas show is that the Christmas decorating canvas is more open to creative solutions than ever. Here are some other unusual Christmas trends you might spot this year.

1. Bare minimal branches

With the trend for waste reduction and careful consumption, a cluttered home is possibly the least fashionable look of the moment. Even the most well-maintained, artfully decorated trees only look good until their needles start dropping.

Whether it’s two triangular boards slotted together, a ladder painted white and wrapped with lights, or wooden planks styled to look like a tree – such as Australian company One Two Tree’s rotating plywood decoration – minimalism at Christmas does not have to be cold or unfestive.

2. An off-the-wall idea

For homes without a lot of floor space, or perhaps pets that might be tempted to climb or chew a traditional tree, an inventive option is to create the effect of a tree with either 2D or 3D wall-mounted decorations. A string of fairy lights, real fir branches, fringes of crepe paper, zigzagged tinsel hung with baubles, or even a quick and simple decal are all simple ways to bring festive cheer without taking up valuable space.

3. Upside Down trees

Fans of Netflix’s science fiction-horror series Stranger Things might like to transport guests to the sinister Upside Down realm by installing a tree suspended from the ceiling and hung with decorations. It’s difficult to pull off this look without looking either overly sinister or silly, but somehow it has gained steam over the last few years.

How UK retailers are trying to attract shoppers

The trend for inverted trees has reached the point where British retailer Argos even sells a pre-flipped, 2.1-metre tree that it promises will “make the most of your limited floor space” and will be a “unique way to add to your holiday decor”.

4. Trees for rent

Protecting the environment and enjoying the beauty and smell of a real tree in the home at Christmas do not have to be mutually exclusive. Companies in the United States and the UK now rent out trees, allowing customers to select one, bring it home, and then return it to the nursery after the festive season for safekeeping and to continue growing until next Christmas.

5. Growing pot trees

Give a whole new meaning to festive greening with cannabis plant Christmas trees which, we are sure, someone, somewhere must have tried in their home.

We do not expect real weed trees to be available to buy in Hong Kong’s flower market any time soon, but America’s largest retailer, Walmart, began selling a 2.1-metre-tall artificial “Pot Leaf Christmas tree” last year, which it said would “put your mind in the right head space for holiday cheer” and leave the buyer able “to relax and giggle at the marijuana leaves and decorate it as [they] please”.

Love’s behind Diane von Furstenberg’s Claridge’s hotel Christmas tree

6. Beneath the leaves

Everyone loves getting stuck into a good book during the Christmas period, but some crafty decorators opt to make literature the main theme of their festive home decor. Whether precisely arranged to ensure weight distribution for maximum height, or piled higgledy-piggledy, book trees make the most out of existing household items and are a unique way to make use of your reading collection.

7. Decoration to be proud of

In September, British homewares shop John Lewis predicted this would be the year of the rainbow Christmas tree. Incredibly, in 2018, Hong Kong still does not recognise same-sex marriage. Let your friends know you are both fashionable and stood firmly on the right side of history with a multicoloured tree.

8. Geek the halls

Show off your eclectic taste for pop culture with a tree that blares your favoured fandoms loud and proud. We’ve seen clever takes featuring Marvel characters, Pac-Man, Nintendo, Star Wars, dragons, Pokemon and Doctor Who in previous years, but we anticipate spotting designs incorporating newer franchises like Rick and Morty, Black Panther and Bojack Horseman this year.

Head to online craft marketplace Etsy to find niche ornaments, or try making your own by repurposing toys and figurines as hanging decorations.

9. Shock your friends

Physics fanatics who really want to make Christmas really crackle might aspire to pay homage to famed Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla. If you’re the type of daredevil who views harnessing electricity within puny fairy lights as tediously pedestrian, look to the bright sparks who have installed festive-themed Tesla coils within their homes or gardens. When you stand back to admire your handiwork, make sure you stand really, really well back.

10. From trash to treasure

Real fir trees? Expensive, damaging to the environment and tricky to dispose of responsibly. Reusable plastic trees? Tacky, potentially toxic and impossible to recycle. With zero waste and sustainability among the key themes of 2018, having an environmentally conscious Christmas is top of the agenda. Like any annual holiday celebrated with decorations, overconsumption and gift-giving, waste is an unfortunate by-product.

There are plenty of examples of upcycled materials, like newspaper, wine bottles, cans, car tyres, CDs and even coconut husks being arranged creatively to produce impactful scenes. Done well, upcycled trees exude eco-chic. Done badly … well, it’ll certainly be a talking point.

11. Try this DIY project

Got a tree but forgot to pick up decorations to hang on it? Consider loading a home movie projector with festive images and shining them onto your tree. Or you could project the image of a tree on to a wall for a futuristic decoration that can be turned on and off or changed to suit the mood.

Christmas tree confectionery: six baubles you’ll love to hang

Alternatively, make like this legendary dude and program your Christmas tree to sync with wholesome yuletide songs (like Slayer’s Raining Blood) for a jaw-dropping light show.