Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

November 12, 2014

How to Build a Scandinavian-Inspired DIY Plywood Christmas Tree

Looking for an alternative to the traditional, evergreen Christmas tree?  Here's a tutorial for making a simple, Scandinavian-inspired plywood tree, which can be displayed in even the smallest spaces!  Or, make a mini version for a credenza or entryway and display some treasured ornaments!

DIY Plywood Christmas Tree

Before I get into the nitty gritty, I should confess that there are some things I wish I could change about this DIY holiday project.  In my mind, I originally envisioned a more simplified tree (like a cookie-cutter shape - really simple), but on a whim I decided for a little more realism.  The top was looking good and I got cocky.  Then it started to get windy (I was working outside) and this giant sheet of plywood acted like a sail.  I was flailing.  I started to rush and then the tree got a bit thick in the middle and then I tried to thin it out but made it look a little wibbly-wobbly.

I still think the idea is cute but, if I'm being honest, I don't love my wonky tree.  So if you're going to make one, I suggest a simpler shape. 

Scandinavian Inspired DIY Holiday Project

It was simple enough to make: I grabbed a full sheet of plywood (any size will do), lightly sanded it smooth to the touch and then sketched out approximately where the tree silhouette would be so I could decide where I'd like the pegs.  The pegs are just a length of wood dowel that we chopped into 3" lengths.  We lightly sanded the rough edges smooth and affixed them each with wood glue before doing any staining or painting.

Projects using wood dowel pegs
Projects using plywood

Once the glue dried, I stained the plywood white and then painted the tree in black acrylic paint - painting the wood dowels too, so they blend in.  With everything dry, I just propped it against the fireplace.  One tip: don't choose really thin plywood if you're going to make a larger version because the plywood can warp.

Alternative to the traditional Christmas tree
Modern Christmas decorating ideas
Small space holiday decorating ideas
Scandinavian inspired holiday decor
Gold ornaments
Unique ornament display idea

When I was a kid, I think my advent calendar filled with chocolates might have been my favorite part of Christmas, so I started to think that with more pegs and numbered cloth sacks filled with goodies, this could be a sweet advent calendar too.  

On the subject of faux tress, I've gotten a few questions about the sparkly trees in the background of some of my photos.  They are flocked trees (4 foot and 6 foot heights) from Canadian Tire and they come pre-wired with lights.  They come apart for easy storage and transport, which is convenient.

Faux twinkle trees

I think that they looked best unadorned, but I did try hanging some ornaments on them too and they work nicely to display just a few special ones. 

Christmas tree alternatives
Modern Christmas decor

Click the link to see more DIY Christmas decorating ideas, in collaboration with Canadian Tire.


  1. Tanya, I would call that a DIY success. I really love the way the tree looks...and no messy pine needles everywhere is just an added bonus.

    1. Awww, thank you!! If my artistic skills were better, I'd be fully committed, lol.

  2. I really like the tree! I'm typically only really fond of about 20% of my DIY projects so I know the feeling. You could always flip it over and use the backside to try again!

    1. We are always our worst critics, right? Ordinarily, flipping it over would be a fabulous idea but we had to do some repair work to the back of our plywood sheet so it's not show-worthy but otherwise I'd totally do it!

  3. I like it and I have to say the shape of the tree is what I like the most. It would also look cool if you painted the board black so it blended into the fireplace and then painted the tree white-silvery-pearly-ish. You know that color right? lol Kinda like the trees to the right. Love the idea of turning it into an advent calendar too. The ones you buy now a days like we used to get as kids, suck! The chocolates are like the size of a nickle.....this way you could fill it with whatever you want, even little toys.

    1. Awww, thanks!

      I love, love, love your idea of painting the background dark and the tree light!! I just kept picturing the white-washed wood with black for a Scandi look and, truthfully, didn't think about where to put it until I hauled it inside and realized it was GIANT and pretty much had to go there, haha. But in hindsight, had I plotted its placement first, your idea would have been perfect and much prettier! Like it was always part of the fireplace. You need to start your own blog!! You have so many great ideas and are so creative. People could write in and you could help solve problems/modify things. Maybe even do a series about saving DIY fails! I could start you off with a bunch of mine, lol.

      Chocolate the size of a nickel? Seriously? Kids sure are short-changed this year. If I had kids and wanted to get them excited about Christmas, I'd fill giant bags with loot and also instructions to do one nice thing that day. Make 'em work for it.

    2. I have decided I am going to start a blog but coming up with the name has been stopping me. I have come up with a few, but I'm not so sure I am in love with them. I find it hard to believe you have a bunch of DIY fails. I'm not so great at coming up with original ideas but when I see other people's projects I see how I would do them or they give me ideas for similar projects. That was actually part of the reason why I was hesitant to start a blog, I'm not so creative in the coming up with ideas, but more the executing them or altering them. But I guess that could be a series on it's own....theirs versus mine. Hmmm

      As for the advent calendar, yeah they kinda suck now. I guess it depends how much you pay for them but as a kid we just used to get ours at the grocery store for cheap. I got my son, who was 15 at the time lol, an advent calendar last year just for fun from the grocery store and the chocolate were tiny. No joke they were the size of a nickel. They used to be much bigger, maybe just under an square inch, and I'm not just talking about back when I was a kid, but even when he was younger and I bought them. Everything is getting smaller while prices go up. Just wait until this supposedly chocolate shortage hits, they will be the size of Tic Tacs lol

    3. There are not many truly original ideas around - most of them of re-interpretations or reinventions, if not of more modern ideas, then of ones from decades ago. Exhibit A: macrame. There is a lot of borrowing of ideas but I think that's fine as long as credit is given to where an idea came from, or what the inspiration was. Sometimes even a little tweak can make some feel brand new. A "Theirs vs Mine" would be really neat! used to have Pinterest Mondays, where she'd take a stab at re-creating a project she found on Pinterest and share it whether it was a success or not.

      Wait, chocolate shortage?

  4. This is so great! I was actually thinking this morning about how to bring Christmas to my small apartment - I don't have a tree and don't have the space for one so this is perfect! Thanks for sharing :D

    1. Oh, I'm so happy this post was useful! I can't imagine it's easy to lug in a big tree!

  5. When I first saw this tree on CT's canvas page, I had the same thought as brikhouse2, black background, tree left natural wood. I agree it must be its resting place against the fireplace that makes reverse seem appropriate.
    love those flocked trees- they will display your spiders perfectly

    1. I love that idea!! It would work with a simpler silhouette, which could just be taped off. I wouldn't use acrylic paint then, I'd use a cheaper latex and roll it on. As a bonus: an even faster project!! I've said this before, but you need a diy blog!! You have fabulous ideas!

  6. Well, I absolutely love it the way it is! The "wonky" tree has a lot more appeal than something more "perfect" might have, and real trees are wonky anyway! :-)

    1. I love that logic: real trees are wonky too! Thanks :)

  7. Modern and functional and gorgeous! Love it!


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