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"
Tung oil or finish of your choice
You will need these tools:
Jig saw or handsaw for inside corners
Drill with 1/4" and 3/4" bits
Safety glasses, gloves, etc.
Step 1: Layin' Out
Start by using a circular saw to rip the plywood down to 16" wide. Strike a line at 24" up from one end, marking a centerline. Measure 2" off each side of the centerline. Connect the corners of the base with those two marks. Carry the lines through until they intersect, which will form the point of the star.
Lay out a trunk and a base; I made the base about 2-1/2" wide, and the tree trunk about 5" wide. Mark out a star, angel, or other design at the top of the triangle.
Measure and strike a vertical centerline, then measure 3/8" to each side of it and strike two more lines. This will be the notch in each piece that allows them to interlock.
Step 2: Cuts
Drill a hole at the center of the eventual notches that will hold the halves together, then run the saw up to meet the hole. Take special care with these cuts: they should be straight, and cut slightly to the inside of the lines for a tight fit. Also be sure that they mirror one another, one coming from the top to the center, and the other coming from the bottom to the center.
Once cut out, clamp the two pieces together and mark a series of notches along the slanted outside edges. I spaced mine 2-1/2" apart, 3/4" deep. At the inside end of each notch, drill a 1/4" hole, then make two cuts to meet the hole with the jig saw. I found a 1/4" fit the Christmas light wire fairly tightly, but you may want to experiment on a scrap piece to make sure your notches hold the lights securely.
Step 3: Finishin'
To assemble, slide the slots together, then thread Christmas lights in a spiral from the top to the bottom, hooking the wire into each notch. You could hang ornaments from the wire, or drill additional holes in the structure.