Make a Faux DIY Christmas Tree With Real Branches

Elena K, Hometalk Team
by Elena K, Hometalk Team
8 Materials
2-3 Hours
Every year I face the same conundrum: do we buy a real Christmas tree or stay with our faux ones?
If you read my previous post on “How to Make your Faux Christmas Tree Smell Like Real” you know I’m not keen on the idea of cutting a tree - even a farmed one! A walk in the park the other day kept me wondering how can I make a make a tree that looks real without cutting one.
The solution came to me at my local Craft store.
So happy! I finally got my Christmas tree :-)
Such a simple answer! Cut a bunch of branches and assemble them around a foam cone to look like a tree.

With my cone ready, fresh cut branches, glue gun, and a couple of hours to spare I’m ready to have fun.

Want to know how to make yours? Read on!
Gather your materials and let’s get started!

To make this “Real” Faux Christmas tree you’ll need:

— FOAM CONE, ideally GREEN. I got a 1ft cone but they also come up to 1.5ft — remember it’ll get bigger once you add the branches

— GLUE GUN & GLUE STICKS. Make sure the sticks are the right size for your gun. (They come in different sizes.)

— TREE BRANCHES, preferably pine


You can also get:

— GREEN SPRAY PAINT (optional)

— MASK (optional)

— WOOD STICK with pointy end (optional)

— Large CUTTING BOARD or PLASTIC to protect your table (optional)
Time for a walk to collect a few branches!

Before you go out in the yard, think about where you want to put your tree — on a table as an accent, or on the floor? — and how big you want your tree.

Of course, the cone will also determine the final size. You can add branches up to 8”-10” at the base — that will give you a good size.

TIP: The larger the tree, the heavier, and the longer it’ll take to make.

The branches I cut were 10” - 12” long, enough to allow for some trimming before — and after — assembling. I suggest you start with a small one before upgrading to a pro size ;-)

Got your branches? Let’s get started!
Ready? Painting the cone is the next step

Feel free to skip this step but unless your cone is green, or you glue the branches close and tight, you may end up with white areas showing thru the branches.

The green paint will deceive the eye by masking those.

TIP: If you can, get a green cone instead of white.

To paint it: get the cone, a mask, and the spray paint and cover your work area. (You don’t want green paint all over your walls, do you?) Start spraying, rotating the cone as you go to ensure an even coat. Wait a few minutes and do a second application if needed.

TIP: wear a mask if working indoors to avoid fumes.

You can also get a NON VOC spray paint. I got mine at my local craft store (Lady Jane) and love the fact that is NON TOXIC! Can you believe is made out of sugar?
Let’s get those branches ready now!

Grab your shears and a few branches, and start by cutting a few (about 8”-10” long.) You can make them longer if your cone is taller, say 18".

TIP: Remember this will be the tree base and the size will decrease as you up. Think about how wide your tree will be if you use 8” vs. 10” branches.

Place them in a stack next to your right.
A 45 degree angle will make the gluing easier

Go through your branches and cut the tip to be inserted in the cone at a 45 degree angle. You can also clean a few needles off the stem so it goes in more easily.

With your pile ready, we’re almost ready to start making our “Real” faux tree!
But wait! A little hole will go a long way

NOTE: Before you go any further, think about whether you want your tree “branches” to start at the very base of the cone, or if you prefer them to be an inch or two off.

Then, get your stick — mine is a kebab bamboo stick from my dollar store — and poke a hole where you want to insert your first branch.

Now we’re ready to glue!
Are you ready? Let's glue!

Finally, add a bead of glue to the end and insert it in the hole you poked. Poke another 1/2”-1” apart from the first and insert your next branch.

Keep going until you complete the first round, or at least half. Don’t forget to turn the cone around as you work.

TIP: For the second row, I suggest to shift the branches a bit, so they don't line up in a column to the top.

The holes on this second row should be in between the ones underneath. If this sounds a bit confusing, take a look at the pic again to understand what I mean.

If your branches are fresh, you’re likely to get sap in your fingers and all over your mat.

TIP: take a break to clean up a little once in a while. My fingers got so sticky!
Looking good. Can you see it coming along?

Do two or three more rows and pause for a minute: Time to evaluate how it’s coming!

Are the branches close enough? Too tight? If there’s too much space in between, the tree may look too sparse. On the other hand, too tight means more work and a heavier tree.

TIP: Feel free to add a few more branches if they're too far apart.

Keep going. Once you’ve finished your stack of branches go back to STEP 4: cut at a 45 degree angle, poke a hole in the cone, and glue.

As in a real pine tree, yours should get smaller it grows.

TIP: Don’t forget to cut branches shorter as you move up!
Time for a break and a little clean up
I’m almost half way up and can really see it coming along. But my work area is a mess!

Let’s take a short break: unplug your gun, remove needles and cuts that you don’t need, and wash your hands if they’re too sticky.

TIP: You can also keep a bottle of alcohol on your work table to remove the sap off your fingers once in a while.

Then keep going till you’re about one third to the top.
Let’s start now from the top up

I wanted to have a pointy top that looks that a real tree, so I figured it’d be better to start at the top now and move down. It also helped me to calculate how long the branches should be as they decrease.

You can continue all the way up, or follow me.

Get a nice short branch, poke a hole at the very top, and glue it there vertically. Add a few more around that first one, still pointing up to cover the top of the cone.

Then start decreasing the angle and make a couple of rows. Check your handy work often. This is the trickiest part!

TIP: For a more realistic finish, GET A NICE PICTURE OF A BUSHY PINE TREE to get inspired. Look at the shape as your work and notice how the branches grow.
I can’t believe is not real!

Hey. Am I the only one excited here?

Seriously, this is the MOST ACCURATE rendering of a FAUX TREE I’ve seen in a long time. Let’s just say it’s a REAL FAUX TREE, all without having to cut one ;-)

Place your tree against a clear wall to check if it needs a little trimming and reshaping.
Does the tree need a little trim?

Grab your shears and trim the end of those branches that stick out too much. Now, it doesn’t need to be perfect, plus you’ll need a few long branches to cut your ornaments.

Reshape as you see fit.

I can’t wait to put my ornaments on it!
I love my lil “bonsai” Faux Christmas Tree

Get your ornaments, Christmas lights, or garland ready and go wild. You can also enlist kids and grandkids to help decorate the faux tree.

Either way, have fun!

I love my ornaments hanging from the faux tree. I have to tell you, I took it to a market and everyone was curious about whether it was real. I could see people touching it and trying to figure it out. :-)

Of course I didn’t reveal it was faux!
The hardest part is to decide where it goes!
Found two nice spots in our living room. Now the question is, where should I put it? I think it’s going to stay on the dresser, next to the large Christmas cactus.

Oh. One more thing: in case you’re thinking... It won’t smell like the real thing, here’s a little trick you can use to make it fragrant:

If you like this post, follow me!

Next time I’ll be sharing how to clean your gutters, and how to make a DIY ironing board wall storage.

Happy Holidays!
Suggested materials:
  • FOAM CONE, 12" - 18"   (Michaels)
  • GLUE GUN & GLUE STICKS   (Michaels)
  • TREE BRANCHES   (Garden)
See all materials
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 6 questions
  • Pauliegirl1 Pauliegirl1 on Dec 19, 2016
    Very cute!! Could'nt you use the "wet" styrofoam for longer lasting branches? You have it in a container.....Just a thought!!
  • Elizabeth Burrows Elizabeth Burrows on Dec 19, 2016
    Thanks. Do you have an suggestions re which evergreen plant last longer in either place?
  • Car15766268 Car15766268 on Jan 18, 2017
    How will you water the tree?
Join the conversation
3 of 36 comments
  • Susan Susan on Jan 10, 2017
    By the way, that isn't "pine". It's fir....
  • Christine Christine on Dec 21, 2019

    Just a quick suggestion. You can also take tomato cages, turn them upside down, spray paint them green, then wrap them with lighted Garland. Mine used 3 15' lit garlands, and where the "legs" of the cage sticks up, I put a tree topper. I then placed this "Christmas" decorated tree in planter boxes with a big bow on them, in front of my house. They are really cute. Wish I could add a pic for you. The are a great size for small areas, table tops, or the yard. They are even cute to use as decorations on care or floats in parades, just add battery operated lights.