Picture of Flat-Pack X-Mas Tree
Every year, Americans go wild for Christmas. It starts right after Halloween, as the radio stations switch to carols and classics, and then turns into a shopping frenzy the day after Thanksgiving. According to the U.S. census, it also includes cutting down about 17 million live trees for living room displays. These trees often end up in the landfill, or, at best, mulched. From a sustainability perspective, this process is largely carbon-neutral, as the trees emit no more carbon dioxide as they rot than they absorbed while growing. But that fails to account for all the petrochemicals used to plant, fertilize, prune, cut, deliver, and dispose of said trees. Artificial trees aren't much better; they are often made of PVC, stabilized with lead, and are neither biodegradable nor recyclable.

This year, make a more sustainable choice: a flat-pack, lightweight, wood tree made from scrap plywood. It can be made in any size, takes up no space to store, is cheap, reusable, non-toxic, with a sleek, modern aesthetic. 

This whole project, from sketch to set-up in the living room, took me about three hours and cost me nothing (assuming you can scavenge some plywood). It requires no fasteners or specialized equipment. I made mine from OSB since it was what was lying around the shop, and the random flakes make for a nice bark-ish texture, but any sort of plywood will do. 

Merry flat-pack Christmas! And, if you're in a giving kind of mood, throw a vote my way in the Instructables Design Contest . . . !

You will need these materials:

2 pieces of 3/4" plywood, OSB, or other sheet goods, approx. 16" x 24"
Christmas lights
Tung oil or finish of your choice

You will need these tools:

Circular saw
Jig saw or handsaw for inside corners
Drill with 1/4" and 3/4" bits
Router (optional)
Tape measure
Safety glasses, gloves, etc.
I just built a variation of your design for my house here in the Philippines.

2 dimensional and painted Green.

that photo is way too little :(

Click on the three pics in my comment from 2014. The tree is basically just a 4' tall triangle with a star on top. Then notch out the "branches". Notch in the base so it isn't too tippy (note mine is always against a wall).

Notch in some slots so the darn light string doesn't slide off.

Paint it green (except for the base which I left as bare wood) and then color in the star.

EcoExpatMike made it!1 year ago

My son riding his Ikea Moose in front of the tree Christmas eve, a close up of the completed masterpeice and the tree before I strung lights.

Note that I didn't make it "3D" like the original 'ible because I have a one year old stumbling around. Did paint it though!


Your child is so cute! Is the rocking horse a flat pack assembly project? I just went trough an amazing rocking cat instructable, which was more than inspiring.

The Moose is from Ikea and it's stupidly inexpensive.

Search Ikea.com for "ekorre"

BartholomewH3 months ago

A flat pack assembly of a X-mas tree wasn't something I really did not expect! :D
The 3 step guide is really fresh. I would totally add a project like that to my winter holidays home furnishing list. cheers!

DGS_32 years ago
This is amazing
Chadifornia2 years ago
Cool design.
Judith7562 years ago
Very nice way to have some decorations that don't take up a lot of space when Christmas is over. Great for those of us with limited space for storage.
Thanks, and I voted.
auntylulu2 years ago
Very cool! it could also be done with heavy cardboard. I think I'm going to try that
sleeepy22 years ago
It would be a tough sell convincing the wife, but I like it a lot.
renome2 years ago
A good idea. I like it. http://plastfactor.ru
dismissie2 years ago
I love this idea!