Steve & I are the King and Queen of wanting to do things a little different. This year, we were so busy with work, we thought we would come up with a DIY Christmas tree that wowed without all the fuss. And after we dropped by the Christmas tree lot and saw how much a tree would cost, we knew we could do better. (Santa is watching, after all. 😉 Oh, and our kids and grandkids.) We had gotten inspired by beautiful outdoor light displays, and alternative Christmas trees we see every December in high end resorts and hotels. So, we got to work to make a simple DIY Christmas tree made of firefly lights! Here is how you can make one too, for less than $60! Note : If you are looking for a smaller version of this that can be used on a wall or in a large window, check out our DIY Wall Christmas tree over at TBD!
DIY Christmas Tree Made of Firefly Lights – Tutorial
This DIY Christmas tree only took a few easy supplies, most of which you can get at the craft store or home improvement store.
— 4’x4′ piece of pressboard, plywood, or MDF as a base. (We used two 2’x4′ pieces)
— Small Cup Hooks to Hold Firefly Lights
— One larger cup hook to anchor the top of the tree at the ceiling
— Firefly lights – Firefly lights are the key to this project, because they are on a bendable copper wire that stays in place.
— Ladder or Stepladder
We chose these small, 1/2 inch cup hooks to anchor our firefly lights around the edge of the base.
These are the firefly lights we got from ‘Amazon‘. (Also called fairy lights!) They were $49.99 when we bought them. We bought a 1000 light string that was 328 feet long. It allowed us to make a seamless tree with our 9 foot ceiling. The turn over seems to be high on this product, so in case our main link to what we bought stops working, here is a more general link for firefly lights on Amazon.
Step One: Fairy Light Tree Base
We purchased 2 pieces of inexpensive MDF from Home Depot. We didn’t have a large enough vehicle to get the 4 foot by 4 foot piece that we wanted for the base, so we bought two 2’x4′ pieces and just duct taped them together at home. Yep, duct tape works for that too! Don’t worry, no one will see it once you finish your fairy light Christmas tree! As you can see, we used a pencil and string to draw a circle on the wood. We then used a jigsaw to cut out the circle. You can adjust your base for a small space by choosing to make it a half circle against a wall, or use a smaller round plywood base. One of the perks of making a DIY Christmas tree is that you can customize it to fit your floor space.
Step Two: Attach the Hooks
We screwed the small cup hooks into the edge of the Christmas tree base approximately every 4 3/4 of an inch. You could use a marker to make sure they stay an equal distance apart. We had to tap the tops with a hammer to get them to grab before we screwed them in. You could also pre drill holes, but make sure the holes are slightly smaller than the thread of the hook.
Next you are going to anchor your large hook into the ceiling where you wish the top of this amazing fairy light tree to “live”. We just used a larger 2 1/2 inch cup hook and made sure it went into a stud for strength and stability. You could also use a wall anchor if there is no stud where you want your tree. Center the round base under the ceiling hook.
Create Your DIY Christmas Tree Shape
So here comes the fun part of making your DIY Christmas tree! Wrapping it with firefly lights! (Or fairy lights, whichever term you prefer!) We started the string of firefly lights by wrapping it 3-4 times around the first cup hook in the base to secure it. Then it’s a matter of going up to the ceiling hook, down to the next bottom hook, then across to the adjoining bottom hook, then back up to the ceiling hook and so on. You don’t need to wrap the lights repeatedly around each hook as in the first hook. Just once works. See photos below. This creates the tree shape using the firefly lights.
It helps to have an extra hand to unwind firefly lights while you are going up and down a stepladder, wrapping them around the hooks to create the shape of a Christmas tree. Remember to try not to bend the wires too sharply or treat the firefly lights too roughly. Firefly lights are special because they have a copper wire that stays where you bend it. But it also makes it easier to break connections inside those tiny wires. We had no problems with our string, but we have read reviews warning people to be more careful with firefly lights than they would with regular string lights. And some brands are better than others!
Make sure you gently pull the firefly light wires taut between each hook. Gently!
DIY Christmas Tree Made of Lights!
And now we have the best DIY Christmas tree we ever made, using only firefly lights! This tree is so pretty, you don’t need ornaments! The photos don’t do it justice. The lights magically glow off every reflective surface in the room. Ok, onto finishing the look!
Cover the Fairy Light Tree Base
So you can cover the base of your fairy light tree any way you want. We chose to use a simple white tree skirt that just happens to be 48 inches round on the inside of the base. Before you ask, we just gently spread apart the wires to place the skirt and the poinsettia. Two people help make this easier. We used the plant to cover the hole in the center of the tree skirt, and to add some drama to the tree. You could make a fabric base from one piece of fleece, or you could use a prettily wrapped gift in the center. Or a million other ideas, it’s your tree!
We then wrapped the outside edge of the base in mixed evergreen garland. Just because this is an alternative Christmas tree doesn’t mean we can’t have some green holiday decor! We considered using white feather boas from a previous glam Christmas theme, but we really wanted the greenery. Use your imagination!
With the extra lights at the end of the strand, we wound them around the garland. Then with the last tail of the lights, we ran it under the tree skirt and wrapped the base of the poinsettia pot to give it a glow.
And here is our simple, budget-friendly, modern DIY Christmas tree made with firefly lights! As you can see, we echoed the shape of the tree on the other side of the room with a smaller, more traditional Christmas tree. And then we added more poinsettias, Christmas decorations and lots of red & white!
This shows how the poinsettia pot glows at night! Does the display need pine cones?
After we took this shot, we ended up wrapping the garland over the window in matching firefly lights as well. The whole room just glows with Christmas charm!
If you are looking for an alternative Christmas tree that doesn’t cost a lot and can be reused every year just like an expensive artificial tree, try our DIY Christmas tree made of firefly lights! Or for you folks in Europe, fairy light tree. And then jump on over to our posts on Creative Christmas Lights for Indoors and Starry Starry String Lights for more ideas! And don’t forget to check out 20 Traditional Christmas Tree Ideas and DIY Christmas mantel decor ideas and inspiration over at TBD!
Greetings from Madrid, Spain
Looking for a new Christmas decoration we found your fifefly Christmas tree
We introduced some changes (mixing Christmas tree and Nativity tradition so popular in Spain)
Thanks for your inspiration: we are all proud and happy of our Christmas tree.
Glad you loved it! Thx for writing!
SPECTACULAR. i ws asked to create a Christmas tree @ brother’s outdoor home.
Went to top of flagpole and similarly did those many steps (top to bottom, etc.) to create colored XMas tree.
LOVING YOURS….Merry Christmas
esta bellisimo, saludos desde Peru e intentare hacerlo este año 2020.
Beautiful. Will certainly try this, this Christmas
Glad you liked it!
How do you hold The fireflys lights from the calling? Can you share us a photo? We’re going to do it tomorrow! We also have all the items 🤗
Sorry we didn’t get back to you in time for your project the next day! But from the post… “– One larger cup hook to anchor the top of the tree at the ceiling”…
I love this idea!
Any bright ideas for alternatives to a hook in the ceiling? I would like to place this in our entryway and stop at 9 or 10 feet.
You could place the hook, then have a fishing line go from the top of the tree to the hook?
Since it is wire, do you have to hook it to
Yes, the wire isn’t strong enough to hold it upright on its own!
How high is/was your ceiling? And how do you storage it? Is it easy?
Our ceiling there was 9 feet… we store the base against a wall in the garage, and simply repack all the lights in a box… easy!
Beautiful, just, beautiful.
Thank you! We love it too!
Found out our Firefly Christmas Tree project was featured in a roundup of alternatives Christmas Trees on “Country Living” Magazine’s website! Thank You Shelby!
I really love this idea! Do you have any suggestions for creating an easy wrap-and-store..I.e. taking it down in one assembled unit to store away for the next year? I’m thinking maybe a floor to ceiling wrap of some sort (plastic?) which could then be rolled onto a tube of some sort, starting at the top of the tree and rolling down onto the base. Any ideas?
We just wrap the lights around a cardboard tube and store in a box… let us know if you find a way to store them in one unit!
How many small hooks did you use?
I think somewhere around 32?
It looks amazing!
However, how do you put it away for next year?
Pretty easy actually – Carefully roll the lights back up on a spool, We made our base in 2 pieces, so it is really the 2 pieces of the base that you have to store. The lights roll up to be quite small. Then remove the hook in the ceiling!
Absolutely stunning and brilliant! I also learned what firefly lights are – what I’ve always called fairy lights. I like “firefly” better, so that’s what I’ll start calling these lights.
WoW! Thank you! Plus, a tree didn’t have to die. Next year, Next year, for me! : )
Glad you liked it, we’re going to do in next year again too! Maybe, two! So much easier to take down, too!