Christmas decorations don’t need to be elaborate, fancy, or expensive to bring a decided festive feeling into your home. These modern DIY tabletop Christmas trees are a perfect example of simple holiday décor. Made out of paper mache cones, they are perfectly imperfect. Enjoy!
- Papermache cones (found at your local craft store, in the doll or cardboard box sections)
- Drill + 2 sizes drill bits
- Spray paint
- LED tea lights
Begin with your larger drill bit. Carefully supporting the cone from the inside (but with fingers out of the way of the drill bit), drill holes into your cone. Recognize that this isn’t wood, so your holes aren’t going to look perfect. In fact, they’re going to be pretty rough at this point.
Space the holes randomly apart. You may want to make the spacing denser near the bottoms of your trees, but it’s a preference call on your part.
Repeat this process, with the larger drill bit, on all your cones. Tip: When you’re drilling, use the drill-in (clockwise) direction for entering the cardboard, and use the drill-out (counter-clockwise) direction, while scraping the sides of the hole a bit, for exiting the cardboard.
Switch to your smaller drill bit, and add lots of holes throughout your paper mache cone. Again, you may want denser spacing near the bottom of your cone. With this smaller drill bit, I recommend going up higher on the tree than with the larger drill bit.
Use a sanding block to carefully sand away chunks around the holes.
With a medium-grit scrap of sandpaper, wrap a pen with sandpaper.
Insert the sandpaper-wrapped pen into the larger holes, and scrape the edges. Rotate the sandpaper pen, and also jiggle it in and out of the hole to smooth the hole edges as much as possible.
This process helps a lot. Here is a photo of what the holes look like before they’re sanded.
Here’s what the larger holes look like after sanding. Not perfect, but better.
For the smaller holes, you could roll the sandpaper into itself and insert it into the holes. I found it easiest, though, to just use a sharp pencil to push in the cardboard chunks into the hole itself.
Repeat for all the trees. At this point, you’ll likely be wishing you had chosen a smaller number of trees. But it’ll be worth it!
Set all the trees in a well-ventilated area on a dropcloth. If you’re painting different colors, separate the trees according to their color.
The first few trees will be painted with a flat white spray paint.
Spray light coats of spray paint onto your paper mache cone trees, working your way all the way around each tree.
Take care to not spray too much in one coating, or it will drip.
Repeat the steps for other colors on the other Christmas tree cones.
Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then repeat coats. Do two or three coats, then let the cones dry completely.
Take out your LED tea lights, and turn them on. Set them on a tabletop or wherever you are going to display your modern DIY tabletop Christmas trees.
Set the paper mache cones on top of the tea lights.
What a lovely little cluster of joy, don’t you think?
Originally, my plan was to cut red tissue paper out for the green trees.
I tried covering the tea light with the red tissue paper, but when I placed the tree on top of the LED light, it looked pretty much the same as it looked with just the light itself…only darker. So, there’s a tip for you: Colored “lights” in your Christmas tree cone might not work well.
Either way, I love the forest created here. Festive yet serene.
I hope you love creating your own little Christmas wonderland with these DIY modern tabletop trees. Happy DIYing!