How to Build a Rustic Desktop Christmas Tree

Modern meets rustic with this simple but sweet holiday tree.

Holiday deskcessorizing is a real thing when you spend 40+ hours every week tied to your office. If you’re really lucky, maybe you’ve got space for a standing artificial tree or a wall-mount tree like one of these, but if not? When your canvas is a cubicle, follow this tutorial to make a rustic small-space tree that adds cheer without cramping your productivity.

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Materials and Tools

  • scrap wood (roughly 6-8 boards 8"-15" in length)
  • miter saw
  • pencil
  • wood glue
  • clamps
  • drill with 1/16" bit
  • stain or paint (optional)
  • ornaments with hooks

Select a variety of boards for your project. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Try to select boards of the same width (such as 1x or 2x boards).
  • Don’t be too particular about the existing stain – if the color of your boards isn't what you want, you can always paint your tree snowy white or stain it rich brown.
  • Pull a variety of board lengths. Sort them so they’re stacked short (the treetop) to long (the lower “branches”).
Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Use a miter saw to cut the treetop into a triangle. Once you’ve made the cut and have the scale of treetop determined, plan your cut for the next branch down the tree. Plan all subsequent cuts so the lower branches layer and canopy, but continue to get wider as you build the tree downward. Such as how I’ve done here, you may find it helpful to use a pencil to mark where a cut may be ideal to achieve a canopy. Keep in mind that you can continuously adjust the angle of the saw so that it suits the angle you desire from each board.

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

From your lowest board, reserve a piece of scrap wood and trim it to act as a footer that will sit perpendicular to the tree. This will prevent the tree from tipping forward while you have it sitting on your desk. (The goal is to have the back of the tree resting flat against a wall, so there’s no chance of it tipping backward.)

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Apply wood glue to the edges of each board.

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Laying flat on a work surface, assemble the tree and use clamps to push the boards together horizontally and force the wood glue to have solid contact. You may want to lay heavy scrap boards atop the tree to reduce the tendency of the wood to buckle up.

If any glue squeezes out, use a cloth to wipe it away.

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Attach the footer to the lowest tree branch with wood glue. Allow all glue to completely dry.

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Use a drill and narrow drill bit to predrill spaces for ornaments. Drill at an angle. You will hook ornaments directly into the holes, and the angle will prevent any ornaments from falling out.

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

If you wish, stain and paint at this point. When it’s dry, you’ll be able to stand it upright and adorn it to deck your desk.

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

I can’t decide which I like better – evenly stained or au natural?

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Build This Rustic Tree to Accessorize Your Desk

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Wall-Mounted Christmas Trees for Small Spaces

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Cut a Kid-Friendly Pegboard Tree

A piece of pegboard was used to create this wall-mounted Christmas tree. Painted green and secured to the wall with mounting tape and a 1" spacer, ordinary pegboard hooks are added to serve as a hanging spot for your kid's favorite ornament collection.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Go Colorful With a Polka Dot Tree

Cut from colorful craft paper, this wall-mounted tree design can be made by kids. Use a 4" circle punch for ease, consistency, and efficiency. Apply pieces of double-sided tape to the back of each circle so that you can mount them to an available space in your home. (Deck those halls, little girl!)

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Make a Rustic and Reclaimed Wall Tree

Bring the look and feel of a rustic Christmas tree to your walls with a tree sculpture made from twigs and yardsticks. Use the yardsticks as the base of the tree and then create branches by securing the twigs to the faces of the yardsticks with tacks or bailing wire.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Design a Washi Tape Tree

Washi tape trees are a favorite of ours for many reasons, but mostly because the opportunities for customization are endless. Big or small, you can create a tree so that it fits any space. Use contrasting tape colors to create ornaments or garland, or like here, use adhesive dots to attach pompoms that add indestructible whimsy to a narrow space near a kid's play kitchen.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Make a Greeting Card Display

This plywood tree is space-saving and functional as it doubles as a display for holiday cards from friends and family. Use pushpins and colored embroidery thread to create a taut criss-cross pattern, and allow it to fill with "ornaments" all season long.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Upcycle Scrap Wood and Build a Desktop Tree

Assorted pieces of scrap wood were utilized to create this tabletop tree. Atop a desk, it's designed to push flush up against the wall and is braced so it won't tip forward (perfect for your cubicle too). Stain it if you wish and then finish it off with a collection of colorful ornaments determined to keep you feeling merry all season long.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Craft an Easy Wrapping Paper Tree

Adding a decorative touch in a small entryway has never been easier. Wrapping paper and tissue paper can be trimmed and taped onto a wall in the shape of a Christmas tree to add holiday cheer. Position a bench below it and let it be a place that gifts can nestle during the season.

Photo By: Brian Patrick Flynn

Attach an Evergreen Serpentine

Adhesive wall hooks are the magic ingredient for creating many a wall-mounted Christmas tree. This one makes use of lush evergreen and glittery garland. Start by twisting together the evergreen and garland and then hook one end high up on the wall. Allow it to twist and turn, left and right until it takes the form of a tree. Add a length of battery-powered lights and a half-circle "tree skirt" for extra appeal.

Photo By: Emily Fazio

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