Turn a stack of junk mail (or old books, magazines or office supplies) and some spare time into a beautiful, functional Christmas tree for your home or office in 5 easy steps! Go colorful & quirky or elegant & wintry with this eco-friendly, ornaments-optional how-to.

A few days ago, I realized:
1. I had a huge pile of junk mail taking up valuable real estate in my art studio, and
2. I wanted a Christmas tree.
I also don’t have a lot of spare cash for a tree, am morally conflicted with supporting an industry of tree-killing, and am constantly on the lookout for daily projects as I’m about to finish up ArtProject2010, a self-imposed year-long challenge to make a piece of art every day. Et voila! Junk mail Christmas tree was born. As the stars aligned to bring me a project solving multiple problems of mine at once, I figured it was the least I could do to pass the holiday spirit on to others with this Instructable.

This project is best for a small, tabletop tree- unless you have many, many hours of free time and lots of paper. In that case, feel free to go bigger. ;) This is also an economical, festive way to display something like jewelry for sale.

For this project, you’ll need:
-Junk mail OR an old book, hymnals, Christmas stories, office supplies, old textbooks, love letters, newspapers, magazines, a phone book, scraps of wrapping paper, old Christmas cards or any paper scraps you care to use
-Acrylic matte medium OR Elmer’s glue watered down a bit
-A wide brush
-Packing tape (or duct tape; scotch isn’t going to cut it)

-A hole punch
-Small box for stand (recommended)
-Wrapping paper/fabric/ribbon for stand

Step 1: Cut out your cardboard

Collect your cardboard scraps and draw a tiered tree pattern with a 90 degree edge on one of them. Use your first one as a pattern (or make a paper pattern so that your pieces are the same) and cut out 4 tree shapes. Create a tree shape that will entirely fit on to 4 of your cardboard scraps. The stiffer your cardboard is, the sturdier your finished piece will be.

I didn’t trust myself to get the tree shape right on my first try, so I made a pattern using a piece of 18” x 24” newsprint paper, utilizing the natural 90 degree edge of the page. I used boxes laying around the house for my cardboard.

If you’ll be using ornaments, make sure to leave enough space between branch tiers for them.

SAFETY TIP: Use scissors! If you use a utility knife, be EXTREMELY careful. Always cut away from yourself and keep in mind where the knife would go if you slip. Not only is it easy to slip and screw up your tree shape, it's also easy to slip and screw up your hand. So far I have one trip to the emergency room to attest to this. Don't let it happen to you!

wow realy cool
I made this for last Christmas, found a big appliance box by my apartment, I used up all my junk mails and some more. :-) Thank you for the great idea. It was free and it looked gorgeous. I kept it until May. Keep up posting fantastic things like this.
That's gorgeous--and perfectly brilliant! Bravo!
this is sooo beautiful! amazing idea!

About This Instructable


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Bio: Hi, I'm Marianne Bland, an artist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2010, I completed a self-imposed challenge to create at least ... More »
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