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Being a poor college student, I didn't want to shell out $99 bucks for a reasonably sized artificial christmas tree. I tried researching the internet for people who had made their own christmas trees- the most noteable being the mountain dew tree.
However, finding a lack of resources on making trees. I experimented around and then found a decently easy way to make an artificial christmas tree for under $10.

Step 1: Supplies

You will need:
1) 1 60 ft bundle of tinsel -$4.47 (you can choose a color to your own liking)
2) 2 packs of floral wire stems (Fibre Craft's "Bright Stem Wire") - $.67 each
3) 1 spool of floral wire (Fibre Craft's "Bright Wire") - $.97
4) 1 wooden dowel, thin pvc pipe, or piece of bamboo (I prefer the bamboo because its irregular shape allows for the wire to wrap more firmly)
5) Some sort of stand/base to support the tree. I ended up using a glass vase filled with silica sand that i had lying around, but you could use many things - milk jugs, large bottles, buckets, flower pots, baskets filled with rocks, sand, gravel, plaster bases etc.

6)Tools
Wire cutters
Scissors
Ornaments/decorations

Note, all of these things can be easily found at any craft store. I bought most stuff at Wal-Mart, but I think you'd be able to get these at some place like Michael's or maybe even Target.

Step 2: Designing the Tree

1) Decide how large you want to make your tree. Mine is around 4 and 1/2 feet, and you could make it larger or smaller.
2) Decide the diameter of your treespan. I decided to make mine around 3' in diameter.
3) The shape of the tree is essentially a cone. The diameter of your tree is going to be the base of your cone.

Step 3: Establishing the Branches

4) You are now going to start applying the wire, starting from the base.
3) Take the floral stem wire and make one piece that is a couple inches 1/2 the diameter of your tree. In my case, I only had to use one piece of wire, but you may need to use more.
4) Take your first piece of wire, and wrap it at least twice around the dowel (see diagram 2). If you are going to be hanging heavy ornaments, you may want to twist two pieces of wire together for added strength.

Alright, your first branch has been created!

Step 4: Adding More Branches to Make the Skeleton

1) Now start adding your other branches, wrapping them around the tree, pulling the wire tight to support each branch.
2) Add at least six branches at the same "plane" to create the base
3) Continue to add branches, of decreasing lengths, up to the top of the tree. You may get to a point where a single piece of floral wire can make two branches by wrapping the wire in the middle instead of the end.

The basic skeleton of your tree is complete

Step 5: Adding the Tinsel

You should have something that looks something like a contemporary metal and wood tree. Careful of your eyes and small children - you can bend the wire ends in or tape them over to prevent injury

Now, adding on the tinsel. What I found best was to attach the tinsel using silver floral wire cut into 2 inch pieces.
1) Take one loose end of the (very long) piece of tinsel, and attach it to the tree side end of the branch, using the silver floral wire to tightly secure it onto the stem wire.
2) Now that one end of the tinsel is attached, start wrapping the tinsel around the stem wire, so the branch is nice and bushy, like a bottle brush.
3) Secure it on the lateral end with another piece of floral wire
4) Cut off the excess tinsel

Keep repeating this until the branches are covered with tinsel.

Step 6: Adding On

-After you are finished, check the appearance of the tree. Does it look too scrawny? Add some more branches.
-The top can be a little tricky. You can cut off small pieces of floral wire to make small branches. I just wrapped tinsel around the dowel at the very top.
-You can do more branching if you'd like.... I kept all the branches single pieces of wire. But you could make them compound if you'd like.
-Stick the tree into the base. I simply put the "stem" of mine into the base, and poured sand around it. You could also pour the bucket full of plaster and stick the tree into it or something. The taller your tree, the greater weight you want around its base. It also helps if you have a longer "stem" for the tree to act as a counter balance.

Step 7: The Finishing Touches

All that's left to do is decorate the tree.
Since the branches are wires, its best if you use light ornaments. Glass ornaments, beads, ribbon work pretty well. Mine still holds up a string of lights, but if you're looking to hang plaster ornaments, you might want to add additional support to the branches with either additional wire or using wooden dowels as the base branches.

Step 8: The Tree

Here is my finished tree. It's a bit scrawny, but I still am pretty pleased with how it turned out. As I said before, its about 4.5' tall, and around 3 feet in diameter. I used a string of 100 white icicle lights, and a small container of turqouise glass bulbs to decorate it. It only took me a couple of hours to put it together.

Some ending notes:
-You can definitely customize this to your own tastes. You can make it with green garlands, or whatever color tinsel you wish.
- If you wanted to make a deciduous christmas tree, it might be a little bit more difficult, but could still be done.
-This can also be used to make wreaths as well, using a hula hoop or wire ring as a base.


I had a lot of fun making the tree. While a lot more work than buying one and not quite as pretty, I feel pretty good knowing I saved myself $90 by making my own.I think your savings would increase exponentially, the bigger the tree you create.

I hope you also enjoyed it, this was my first instructable :)
I think I'm going to go out and try this right now! I'm thinking of using many colors of garland and making it a rainbow tree! Shiny!
Nice Tree, I've had bought trees that weren't as nice. If you want the tree to be a little more bushy/fluffy/whatever without having to make a whole bunch more branches, or increasing the cost of the tree substantially, all you need is another package of garland. The trunk of your tree is visible in the photos, whereas most fake trees either go out of their way to make the trunk look like pine bark or wrap it in needles. Wrapping your trunk with the tinsel would go a long way toward making a fuller tree. Additionally, most craft stores have wire frames for "snowflakes" in 4" - 8" diameters. Each frame has (duh) six spokes, which might make your top branches a whole lot easier to make. But those are only optional - your tree is lovely as is, and once you get a bunch of presents underneath, no one will ever notice that it wasn't a "store bought" artificial tree.
Thanks. Yeah, I was thinking either spray-painting the trunk the same color or wrapping it in garland might help a bit more. Do you know how much the wire frame "snowflakes" cost?
Prices vary widely, but I just bought a package of 6 for $2.49 at the local Michael's craft store. Check the beading department, or I found mine in the seasonal area. This particular craft store chain usually has an ad in the newspaper for 40% off any one item. If you don't get the newspaper (I don't - I read online, and not waste trees), you can tell the clerk that you don't have the coupon with you, and can she please scan the register copy. About 99% the time, you'll get the discount. Only exception was the time that the store manager was ringing up my order.
Michael's is pretty good about sharing coupons and discounts. I think they usually have a stack of sales circulars by the main entrance, too.
I love it. I think my family would kill me if I tried to build one this year though.
That's really awesome, and the best part is (aside from the kickassery of making it yourself), we've got a dollar store round here that sells bags of garland like that for a buck apiece (probably shorter but still). I think I may try this :D
wow, nice tree! and you made it all by yourself, and thats the coolest part.
Thank you. Yes, the fact the tree is DIY makes it look that much better to me :)

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