13 Best Ideas for Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree

by | Holidays

Check out these easy ways to create natural statement decor by decorating a sparse Christmas tree in the Scandinavian decor cottage style.  A sparse tree doesn’t mean a sparse look!  These Christmas tree decorations are an easy way to enjoy gorgeous, cozy decor this Christmas season!

Have you seen pictures of Christmas trees that really seem more like slightly sad Charlie Brown Christmas trees?  However, they magically turn into the most beautiful trees that feel incredibly cozy and sentimental?  Decorating a sparse Christmas tree is a really easy way to create a statement piece in your home.  At the same time, it may end up being one of the most beautiful Christmas decorations you get to enjoy this time of year!

First, let me say that I don’t think there is one kind of Christmas tree that is better than another kind.  Actually, if you were to line up all of the trees from our home, you’d find everything from $25 trees that we’ve had for many years to investment pieces.  Furthermore, you would find many different styles: skinny tree, sparse tree, some with a fuller look, real tree, flocked tree, faux tree, unlit trees, larger tree, and everything in between!!!

Let’s take a look at this fun tree style and how you may want to incorporate it into your Christmas home decor for a festive look that is also super cozy!

What is the new Christmas tree trend?

Minimalist, organic, or vintage style trees are on trend again this year (2023).  This sparse type of tree is found in Aspen or Fir trees and they are beautiful!  We will chat about some specific ways to decorate them.  However, as with most any style of tree, you can tweak any of the ideas below to fit the tree you already have too!

If you are looking for a simple Christmas tree, an Aspen or Fir type of tree is perfect for holiday decorating!  Not only do many of these faux trees have a very realistic look, but they are also a gorgeous tree to leave undecorated or to decorate.  At the same time, this kind of sparse artificial Christmas tree is perfect for almost any room of the home and works great in small spaces too.

I will show you two kinds of sparse artificial Christmas tree styles that I enjoy in our home.  There are many different ways to enjoy them during the holiday season and I’ll show you how I like to style ours.  Also, I’ll show you some other ideas that I haven’t tried yet but would like to sometime!

Are sparse Christmas trees in style?

I can confidently give a huge YES to this question!  The sparse Christmas tree is definitely in style and I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon.  That being said, the traditional full tree is a Christmas tree look that will definitely never go out of style.  The fun thing is that you can use both kinds within the same style of home!

A sparse Christmas tree style is often found in a home with a more modern decor style OR in a home that is minimal in nature.  However, my home is neither of those styles and I think my sparse tree works well.  The reason for this is that the sparse tree is also found with Scandinavian style Christmas trees and home decor.  The Scandinavian style is very natural, organic, and neutral in style with vintage and rustic accents.

Vintage, rustic, and neutral are the keywords there that really make the sparse Christmas tree style work well in not only my home, but many of the vintage farmhouse home decor styles too.

view of a family room with a white couch styled for Christmas with a French horn gallery wall

13 Best Ideas for Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree

1. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with a Natural Look

How to decorate an Alpine Christmas Tree?

One of the things that makes the look of a sparse Christmas tree so cozy to me is the very natural and simple look.  Sparse branches can simply be left undecorated and still look so beautiful, especially with cozy lights.  In our back living room, we have a tree that I would describe as “medium sparse,” if that’s a thing.  Haha!  Basically, it doesn’t have skimpy branches but it also isn’t a really full tree like our main Christmas tree is.

Since it is a smaller, more simple style, it is perfect to add in a cozy corner and let the twinkle lights make everything cozy all by themselves!  I love how it feels very natural and organic.  For really simple, easy Christmas decor, invest in a pretty tree with semi-sparse branches, fluff it out, light it up, and just enjoy!

You can shop my semi-sparse tree HERE.  It comes in a couple of different heights.  Mine is the 6.5′ height, which is perfect for this cozy corner!

living space with a sparse Christmas tree styled in the corner with twinkle lights

​2. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with Vintage Decor

How to decorate a sparse Christmas tree?

Since the sparse tree style blends so well with vintage decor, it is a great way to use your favorite vintage or vintage-style vessels!  For my semi-sparse tree, I use a vintage shipping crate as the base.  In our family room, our sparse Christmas tree rests in an antique French champagne crate.  The interest of the antique crate creates a balanced look with the sparse branches.

Tip: We stack old books in the bottom of the crate so that the tree is the right height.  Otherwise, it would sit down too low, smashing the branches.  Plus, it makes the smaller tree look larger/taller.  This is a great option for budget-friendly decorating!

​For small trees, I enjoy using crocks, old buckets, a vintage champagne bucket, or vintage baskets at the bottom of the tree.  It is a great way to elevate the look of your tree and incorporate pretty vintage elements too!

beautiful real-touch Christmas tree in a large wooden crate

​3. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with the Right Tree Skirt

A tree skirt or a tree collar is a really great opportunity to make a big impact but often is an after thought.  (Speaking from experience because as I type, I’m remembering that the tree in our game room still doesn’t have a tree skirt or anything to cover the tree stand!  Haha!)  Adding a tree skirt with interest and texture will give even a sparse style tree a more substantial look.

​Whether you choose to use a tree skirt or one of the tree collars, there are endless styles available, it seems!  However, this is an item that I think is worth investing in as you will use it year after year after year!

You can use a tree skirt as a fun way to add a pop of color.  On the other hand, you may want to carefully choose your tree skirt to have a cohesive look with the rest of your room, such as blending or coordinating with pillow covers, stockings, or throw blankets.

What can I use instead of a Christmas tree skirt?

One budget-friendly way I have used to create my own tree skirt is by using fabrics that I already have.  A pretty tablecloth can make a great tree skirt!  In fact, that’s what I still need to pull out of the closet for that game room tree – a plain ‘ole white tablecloth.  But, it does the trick and just subtly blends in well.

Our big family tree is an artificial tree but I love setting it up early to enjoy for the season.  We use a vintage rice basket as a base.  Then, to cover the actual tree stand, I use one of my long, vintage grain sacks.  The vintage fabric coordinates perfectly with the style of our home and holiday decorations.  At the same time, it is something I already have on hand so that has saved me a purchase for all of these years!

Here are some pretty tree skirt and tree collar options if you need one this year:

smaller real-touch tree inside a dark brown woven basket
view of advent boxes in a cubby with a small tree in an ironstone dish

4. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with Fairy Lights

How to decorate a sparse style Christmas tree with lights?

Fairy lights just make everything feel magical during the holiday season!  On the spare style fir tree in our family room, I choose to not get a pre-lit tree.  Instead, we wind our own strands of light strings around this simple tree.  The lights are on a timer so that is really convenient too.

I love how the soft glow of the fairy lights adds reflection around the room without being too bright.  It is such a nice, soft glow that makes the whole room so cozy!

sparse Christmas tree styled with wooden ornaments and fairy lights

5. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with a Simple Color Scheme

There are certainly so many beautiful ways to decorate any Christmas tree.  However, for a sparse style tree that is really meant to be a simple style, my preference is to keep the color scheme as simple as the tree!

​Colors are certainly fun to use for the festive season.  However, keep your overall color scheme simple and understated.  Less really is more and you will still have a beautiful Christmas tree that makes a statement!

You can shop my favorite neutral colored Christmas decor curated for you HERE!

wide view of a Christmas family room styled with greenery and a French horn gallery wall and a Christmas tree

6. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with Mercury Glass

Mercury glass is one of my favorite kinds of Christmas decorations.  In fact, I’ve purchased several of THESE mercury glass ornament garlands that I use all around our home.  I have one on my fireplace mantel and even use one down the middle of the table for pretty Christmas dining room decor too.

On a sparse style Christmas tree, reflective ornaments, such as mercury glass, are a great way to make even a simple tree sparkle and feel very curated.  For a small tree, try THESE gorgeous mercury glass ornaments!  I purchased them to use in a marble bowl on the entryway cabinet.  However, they are the perfect elegant, simple ornaments for a minimal Christmas tree too!

close up of white books on a mantel with stockings hung from it, also styled with an ornament garland

7. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with Flocked Ornaments

One newer trend that I also love is the opposite of the reflective ornaments.  Flocked ornaments or velvet ornaments are new ornaments that add a gorgeous and elegant style to any tree.  The rich texture adds a unique elegance to a beautiful Christmas tree.

I think they are perfect for a sparse style Christmas tree because they add so much texture.  Often, they are rich in color too, which is a lovely addition to holiday decorations.

You can find some simple and beautiful velvet ornaments that I ordered HERE!

a flocked ornament hung from a sparse Christmas tree

8. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with DIY Ornaments

On my favorite sparse style tree in our family room, we had some fun with some easy DIY ornaments!  Old wooden spindles with beautiful, raw finish patina were a budget-friendly find at only a dollar or so each.

Over on THIS post, you can find a simple tutorial of how we turned them into ornaments that have been perfect to feature on this tree.

​I love the light wood color and how it blends so beautifully with my other decor as well as the overall style of our home!

DIY wooden spindles cut up to make ornaments

9. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with Simple Garlands

Simple ornament garlands are one of my very favorite things to decorate with.  Actually, I use them more frequently in other places besides the Christmas tree!  However, both THIS favorite mercury glass ornament garland or THIS antiqued gold bell garland would be absolutely perfect for a sparse style Christmas tree.

In fact, just writing this is making me consider ordering a few more to use on my trees too!

What makes them perfect for a sparse style tree is that the swag in the garland can fill some of the bare space.  At the same time, a simple tree needs simple ornaments.  By using a garland, the ornaments have a cohesive look.  This helps keep the simple style of tree from feeling cluttered or overwhelmed with ornaments.

bell nd ornament garlands layered and hung from a white mantel

10. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with Fruit

Dried fruit is such a gorgeous and simple way to decorate for Christmas.  Dried oranges are especially beautiful and they are easy to hang on the branch tips with pretty ribbon or twine!  I love how the simplicity of the dried fruit looks with the simplicity of the Scandinavian style Christmas trees too.

Dried orange slices are easy to make (check out Rachel’s amazing post HERE that shares all the details!) but you can also purchase them inexpensively HERE.  If you are pressed for time, THESE are a great option.  I also love using dried orange slices for easy Christmas gift wrap too.  You can find more easy gift wrap ideas on THIS post!

​See Rachel’s handiwork on this gorgous tree:

dried orange slices styled on a white flocked Christmas tree

11. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with Candles

What better way to add vintage style to a simple sparse Christmas tree than with candles?!  However, I am always baffled about how every single home didn’t burn down back in the days when people put real candles on their trees!  I cannot even imagine!  THESE clip on candles are the perfect solution.  Plus, they work on a timer and add a simple, soft glow to any simple Christmas tree!

I love using these on the narrow Christmas tree in my bedroom!

tall, narrow Christmas tree in a master bedroom styled for Christmas

12. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with Gift Wrap

One of the best ways to add a pop of color and festive style to your Christmas tree is by giving a little extra attention to the gift packages that go around it!  Even though every gift doesn’t need to have all the fancy touches, adding big bows, ornaments, floral picks, or greenery, like pine picks, to some of the gifts will elevate the style of your Christmas tree so much!

On THIS post, I share some of my favorite super easy ways to make Christmas gift wrap look extra special!

White and green colored wrapped presents underneath a large Christmas tree

13. Decorating a Sparse Christmas Tree with Ribbon

Ribbon is such a wonderful way to decorate any Christmas tree.  In fact, you probably already use ribbon on your tree!  However, adding ribbon to a sparse style tree is a great way to add more layers and texture but in a really simple, minimal way.

​​I’ve been using THIS gorgeous raw edge velvet ribbon everywhere in my Christmas decor and I’m loving it.  It comes in a lot of different colors so you can choose a color that accents and complements your own decor too!

How to put ribbon on a sparse Christmas tree?

I think the prettiest way to use ribbon on a sparse style Christmas tree is to tie simple bows and let the ends hang long and flowy.  This softens the lines of the tree and added texture to the “in between” parts of the branches.

piece of vintage ribbon tied at the end of a garland of greenery

Have I convinced you yet to have fun decorating a sparse style or “Scandinavian style” Christmas tree in your home?  They are so beautiful and add such a cozy glow.

Over on my storefront, find it HERE, I have a list of favorite Christmas greenery and trees.  There are some beautiful trees there, including the one that we enjoy in our back living room space!  I hope that is helpful to you as you work on your own festive and cozy holiday home!

I’d love for you to follow me on social media!  You can find my home decor inspiration on Instagram, Pinterestand Facebook!  











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