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How to create a Wooden Christmas Tree using old Pallets and Natural Decorations!

Here’s how to make your own plastic free tree this Christmas by guest blogger, Sarah Bedwell. 

Pallet christmas tree

A few years ago I really started to become conscious about the plastic waste that was coming from our house, especially at Christmas. That coupled with a daughter who seems to be allergic to everything (candles, fake snow, real Christmas trees, metal (including tinsel) we knew things had to change.  Over the past few years, gone are the typical Christmas decorations being replaced by natural paper ones, wooden figures and natural forestry style decorations.  Last year I swapped all gift wrap to brown paper and string so when I was thinking about Christmas 2020 I knew it was time to tackle the tree situation. 

 I’d seen several versions of alternative Christmas trees and started forming ideas, while discussing them with my husband (who would ultimately have to make it). We settled on a tree made from pallets.  We created the design and set about making it.  We’ve decorated with natures gifts and we love it. We shared it online and it appears everyone loves it too. To that note we have been asked for a guide on how we made it – so here goes and happy building.  

What you’ll need: 

  • Two small or one large pallet (you obviously choose what size tree you want to make with the wood you have available) 

  • Nails or wood screws to secure the back struts and shelves onto the tree 

  • Pen 

  • Good wood saw / metal saw  

  • Hammer/ Screwdriver  

  • White Emulsion (if wishing to white wash) 

  • Decorations 

  • Patience  

How to make your own Pallet Tree

  • Strip apart your pallet  

  • This is actually the hardest part of the tree, as pallets have a notorious amount of nails and screws in.  We used a metal saw to cut through some of them 

  • Lay your wood out on the floor and decide which shape you want to go for.  We went with a standard isosceles triangle, but we’ve seen lots that have different designs.  

  • Draw out your design, then saw the wood to the shape 

  • Saw wood sections for shelves and small wood blocks for securing the shelves to the tree. 

  • We used a variety of shelf sizes so we could stagger them across the tree and remember to have one for the very top part, so you can position a star or topper on it.  

  • You can choose to white wash each piece individually now if you wish, or wait until it’s put together. (One part emulsion, two parts water and we used a kitchen scourer to apply) 

  • Decide which side of the wood you want to be the front of the tree – then turn them all over so you’re working on the reverse side.  

  • Lay out your tree in your chosen design – decide whether you want gaps between each plank of wood or not (we did, just to add effect).

Make your own up cycled pallet christmas tree
  • Use a large strip or plank of wood as a main baton – this goes all the way up the centre of the back of the tree - secure with screws or nails. 

  • Depending on the size of your tree you will need to secure the sides so that it is a firmer structure – we used thin wood batons laid at angles.  

  • Turn your tree back over, so you’re now looking at the front. If you didn’t white wash earlier – then we suggest you do it at this stage.  

  • Now you’ll need to decide on what type of floor support you will have for your tree.   

  • We used two more sections of pallet, the bits with the feet on and secured the tree to it using right angled wooden chocks and large wood screws, but you can use a triangular shaped wooden prop or a hinged leg (bit like a fold up dining table leg) 

  • Next, we added the shelves – this was the fiddly part of it.  We used small wood pieces (the off cuts from the pallet and the bottom of the tree) as supports and nailed the shelf to the support. We then screwed the support section to the tree from the back.  

  • Finally, we stood back and admired our handy work. 

Decorating your tree naturally  

I didn’t want to spoil our natural Christmas tree with plastic baubles or anything of that nature, so we set about gathering up natural items from our local woodlands and around the home.  

  • Pinecones – if you’re collecting pinecones from outside remember they will need prepping to remove bugs etc before you can add them to a tree. To do this you can either soak them in vinegar water for 20-30 mins but I find this leaves a smell.  So what I do is line a tray with baking paper, then lay out your pinecones.  Bake in the oven for 30 mins at about 150-180 degrees. This will not only kill off bugs but also opens up any tight pinecones.  Pinecones can be dipped in your white wash too. Either colour the tips, or dip the bottom half into the mixture for a dip dye effect. You can also use flour and water paste if you don’t want to use emulsion.  To add sparkle use salt or sugar grains.   

  • Holly and Ivy – again we collected this from our local woodlands – we used hairspray on the berries to preserve them a little, but we’re aware they won’t last a month, so will remove the dead berries when necessary.   

  • Old Pot Pourri – we had some pot pourri from earlier in the year which consisted of dried pinecones, cinnamon wood sticks etc – these all made great additions to the tree (you can refresh the scent with a drop of oil if required)   

  • Twig stars – collect semi dead twigs and twist them into star shapes then leave to dry out. We had to overlap several twigs. This can also be done with small twigs and twine to form star shapes.   

The only part that isn’t natural on our tree is the lighting.  While we do have some small candles on the bottom we haven’t lit them yet, but they look good. Instead to light the tree, we have some of the very fine copper wire that has glass lights on. The can be weaved round the tree, or between the gaps in the wood, or even up and over the edge (which is an idea we toyed with).  

 

The good thing is, this tree can either be used all year round, we’ll just change the natural decorations, or can be taken apart and used in our outdoor log burner.  Many people online have suggested keeping it all year round or making it into a garden feature for plants etc.  The fate of ours is yet to be decided, but what we do know is…. we’ll never go back to an artificial tree again.  

 

We hope you enjoy making your own pallet tree and can’t wait to see more creations.  

Written by Sarah Bedwell. www.mustardpr.com


 

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