These 39 Novel Christmas Tree Themes Are the Best Break from Tradition (2024)

It’s getting to be that time of year: the time for that annual trek to pick (or dig) out your Christmas tree. But before you risk being crushed to death in an avalanche of holiday decor storage boxes, have you considered your Christmas tree theme this season? Of course, many of us have nostalgic ornaments that we hang up year after year (read: that toilet paper tube angel you made in first grade), but sometimes the annual festooning can feel, well, a little same old, same old. Why not make 2023 the year to go an alternative route?

A themed Christmas tree can help unify your Tannenbaum with the rest of your home’s decor (think flocked branches and gleaming groupings of complementary baubles) or serve as an opportunity for you to let your creativity run wild. Party-planning guru Bronson van Wyck, for his part, recommends busting out of the red-and-green paradigm and has decked out his clients’ trees with outré motifs ranging from crustaceans to Noah’s ark. If you can’t bear to give up your treasured ornaments, keep ’em; just integrate them into a broader theme or color story. “I love to hang the ornaments and unwrap each with the excitement of seeing an old friend,” Rebecca Gardner of Houses & Parties says. For her tree, she goes ham with a collection of vintage ornaments, laying on even more throwback charm with glass beads and tinsel.

And—for those who simply can’t decide—you don’t have to stop at just one tree. “One of the biggest trends I should mention is that people are increasingly decorating more than one tree in their home,” observes Mercedes Feller, vice president of merchandising for Balsam Hill. “In addition to the traditional living room tree, we are seeing entryway trees, bedroom trees, and smaller trees for children.”

Read on for 39 designer-approved and outside-the-box Christmas tree theme ideas. But, do heed Gardner’s advice: Decorating is “a long process best fueled by strong eggnog and Bing Crosby.”

1

Sheep-Themed Tree

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Wooly sheep are an essential part of a nativity scene. Why not bring them to your Christmas tree too? Here, designer Phillip Thomas hung leaping lambs off the boughs of his farmhouse-themed tree in Bellport, New York. Coupled with cozy textiles and more cuddly creatures in the living room, it’s not looking like a baa-d idea at all.

2

Style-Under-the-Stars Tree

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Like Hammel, designer Bradley Odom looked to the great outdoors in creating his Christmas tree theme. He scattered the evergreen with star ornaments and then layered on whimsical, camping-inspired baubles including vintage RVs, acorns, mushrooms, and reindeer. Lush greenery throughout the living room makes the theme even more convincing. “I think abundance can really be the highlight of the season,” he tells us. “Instead of thinking of the rule of threes, throw that out the window and go over the top.”

3

Woodland Tree

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Channel the pine forests your tree is doubtlessly missing by festooning your Tanenbaum in woodland-themed decor. Here, designer Bria Hammel created a woodsy moment with perching birds, berry picks, and pine cone– and acorn-themed ornaments. Safe to say, we’re nuts for the look.

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4

Pastel Ribbon Tree

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Think pink…and blue and mint and white. That’s precisely what Caitlin Wilson did in this beyond-pretty holiday scheme, layered with pastels and—yes—poodles. Like the designer, you can take your theme and draw it out into the rest of your holiday decor. Here, matching ribbons appear on the wreath and gifts, too.

5

Blue Christmas Tree

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Elvis may have crooned about the woes of a blue Christmas, but we think—with this grove of cerulean trees—it seems pretty festive. ELLE DECOR A-List designer Ghislaine Viñas selected a trio of trees, in varying heights and hues, for a quirky holiday vignette. An orange, zig-zagging floor lamp provides a zip of contrast. Talk about a Christmas to remember!

6

Under the Sea-Themed Tree

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We love all the critters of the crèche (donkeys! sheep!), but why not shine a light on the other creatures in the animal kingdom? We adore this aquatic creation, courtesy of Mary Patton of the Houston-based firm Mary Patton Design. “I was very inspired by my new hobby— aquariums,” she tells us. “I chose a silver tinsel tree and stuck with a blush and turquoise color palette.”

Still can’t give up those treasured holiday motifs? Mix ’em in, like Patton did! “Even though this is a theme tree, I’ve sprinkled in a few turquoise and pink Santas and other family ornaments to keep it fun,” she says.

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7

Red-as-a-Lobster Tree

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This ruby-red tree, courtesy of the one and only Bronson van Wyck, also looks under the sea...and into the art history books. The party planner paid homage to Salvador Dalí in this surreal scheme by covering the crimson branches with red and white lobsters and plenty of glittering extras. With the striped big top–themed enclosure, this Christmas tree is ready for the spotlight.

8

Swedish Tree

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The holidays are about treasured traditions, so why not celebrate your heritage with your Christmas tree theme? Here Kristina Phillips of Kristina Phillips Interior Design celebrates her Swedish background by devoting her tree to tomte, a gnomelike creature who keeps a watch over farm animals and children. Ornaments made from timber, straw, and felt add to the cozy Scandi vibes.

9

Dill Pickle Tree

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German-American lore has it that if you hide a pickle in a Christmas tree, its lucky discoverer will have good luck for the rest of the year. John Derian made it easy for visitors by festooning this mini tree entirely in ornaments of the dill variety. Talk about in-spear-ation!

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10

Flower Power Christmas Tree

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Or, if you’re not a fan of pickles, go for fragrant flowers—real and faux. ELLE DECOR A-List designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard swears by engulfing his tree in bunches of bountiful blooms, like roses, hydrangeas, orchids, and even grapes. “Pampas grass stems can be very romantic and create an ethereal tree experience, whilst dried hydrangeas give body and color blocking to the trees,” he adds. You can feel free to use high-quality silk flowers and tuck in big blooms here and there (Bullard recommends amaryllis). For added longevity, he suggests affixing a water vial to the end of each live nosegay.

11

Vintage Chic Christmas Tree

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Rebecca Gardner, in line with her zany entertaining brand Houses & Parties, embraces vintage nostalgia in her Christmas tree theme with charming gnomelike creatures, toadstool ornaments, glass beads, and tinsel. “One of my favorites is a giant blown-glass moon. He’s magic,” she tells us. Need a hand? Shop her selection of adorable ornaments (we’re obsessed with the co*cktail-shrimp one!) online.

12

Feathered Christmas Tree

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After years of use, you’d be forgiven if your tinsel looks a little tired. Why not look to Mother Nature to create holiday’s best-dressed tree? Here Jeweled Interiors’ Jewel Marlowe tucked ostrich plumes and dried origami-like palm leaves into her tree, creating a theme that is equal parts elegant and effortless.

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13

The Candy Cane Tree

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If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that candy canes are the candy of Christmas—so why not bring that theme to your tree, like Jennifer Perkins did here? The pink, red, and white color scheme goes perfectly with green and will definitely liven up your living room.

14

The Organic Minimalist Tree

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You don’t always have to cover your entire tree in ornaments and decorations. For a clean, minimal look, adorn your tree sparsely, using pine cones and other ornaments in a similar color family.

15

The Tree for Movie Buffs

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If you or the film lover in your life wants to capture that movie-theater vibe in your own home, then Melanie of Southern Crush at Home has come up with the perfect tree for you. Bonus: That ingenious DIY popcorn topper is actually made of white hydrangeas!

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16

The Candy Land Tree

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Calling everyone with a sweet tooth—this is the themed tree for you. Jennifer Houghton of Turtle Creek Lane layered this tree in ornaments shaped like hard candies, sweet desserts, and adorable little gingerbread men.

17

The Lumberjack Tree

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Michelle of Weekend Craft decorated her farmhouse-style tree in a large buffalo-check ribbon, tying it up at the end for the ideal tree topper. Matching ornaments wrapped in black-and-white buffalo-check fabric, along with pine cones and little owls, complete this tree’s theme.

18

The Pom-Pom Tree

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Sugar & Cloth celebrated Christmas in the studio by embellishing a frosted tree in giant fluffy pom-poms. It goes quite well with the colorful velvet seats, don’t you think?

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19

The All-White with Red Accents Tree

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You can go in a lot of different directions when decorating an all-white tree. Here, red ornaments and decor cover the tree for a sleek and stylish look.

20

The Technicolor Tree

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Lia Griffith celebrated a Technicolor holiday with this theatrically themed tree. A snowy spruce flocked tree is adorned with handmade decor and large marquee letters.

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Anna Fixsen

Deputy Digital Editor

Anna Fixsen, Deputy Digital Editor at ELLE DECOR, focuses on how to share the best of the design world through in-depth reportage and online storytelling. Prior to joining the staff, she has held positions at Architectural Digest, Metropolis, and Architectural Record magazines. elledecor.com

These 39 Novel Christmas Tree Themes Are the Best Break from Tradition (2024)
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