My First (decent) Christmas Tree!

Natural Neutral Rustic Christmas Tree

I’ve never had a decent Christmas tree.

The year we moved into our first home, we didn’t have one at all.

The following year we bought the cheapest, nastiest faux tree from the supermarket…for $12…the night before Christmas. Needless to say, it wasn’t the finest of specimens.

A few years later we ‘upgraded’ to another faux tree from a different supermarket. Let’s just say it’s not that hard to upgrade when your initial tree looked like a dried sprig of rosemary.

Even growing up, when we usually had real trees, they were always sparse, and gangly, and wonky, and somewhat peculiar. As I later discovered this was because my parents couldn’t justify the expense of a farmed tree – apparently Dad used to simply head into the bush and lop the nearest dangling branch.

Of course, we didn’t really care, and it doesn’t really matter, and it’s not hard to make the most of what you’ve got, though for aesthetes like me (and probably you!) isn’t there just something lovely and comforting and desirable about a really beautiful Christmas tree?

So, this year when I was invited to review a tree from Balsam Hill, it seemed like the right time.

I received the Fraser Fir (Candlelight LED).

Rustic Natural Christmas Tree Decorated on a Budget

Although it’s available in a range of sizes, the somewhat petite scale of the 137cm/5′ tree seemed just right for our little home.

Earthy Neutral Christmas Tree

Now, I’m not gonna lie, these trees are an investment. However, from the moment it arrived the expense seemed warranted.

Something about this tree just felt special; I mean, you know it’s special when it comes with its very own pair of gloves, right?

Balsam Hill Pack Flatlay

The foliage is very realistic and with some shaping (as all faux trees require) a lovely natural form can be achieved.

One of my favourite things is the integrated light system. Yes people, ‘integrated light system’! No more weaving of tangled and unruly string lights!

Balsam Hill Fraser Fir by The Painted Hive

Since the kids have been old enough to care about Christmas, I’ve let them decorate our tree (mind you, this usually involves the hanging of three baubles before they get bored!).

So, this year, for the first time, we’re having two trees.

This one is mine!

Rustic Natural Christmas Tree

And apparently Coopers :)

I wanted a natural, neutral, home-spun scheme (surprise, surprise) with a tiny hint of red.

I used just four elements…plywood houses, hand-made clay stars, little pinecones and a wooden bead garland.

Natural Rustic Christmas Tree Decorations

The plywood houses were just $2 each from Kmart. Originally, the wood was raw and quite blonde, which is fine though just a tad stark for the look I was going for, so I lightly stained them to give them some depth and warmth.

House Christmas Tree Decorations

Making the clay stars was fun.

DIY Clay Star Ornaments

I don’t do a heap of crafts though when I saw the price of shop bought clay ornaments I figured it was worth a try. And it was such a rewarding and simple project – and perfect for the kids to help with. Some of the stars are blank though many are personalised with our own words (I have a full tutorial here!).

The pinecones were free of course and add just the right hint of earthiness.

I was going to make my own wooden bead garland though I happened to stumble across this one in a local dollar-type store for cheaper than it would have cost me!

Natural Neutral Christmas Tree Decorations

Again, the wood was originally raw so I very lightly stained it to knock-back the coolness.

To conceal the stand and add some extra festive cheer, I packed the base with a variety of wrapped “gifts”. In keeping with the neutral scheme I used browns, blacks and creams with a dash of red.

Christmas Tree Gifts

These “gifts” are mainly just appropriately shaped and sized items from around our house. It was so sweet to see how excited the kids were once they spied them, even though they are mainly just empty cereal boxes and books off our shelves.

Christmas Tree with Natural Decor

We don’t usually have our tree in the living room, mainly because there’s zero space, though given this is a petite tree (and the fact I wanted to take some pretty photos!) I rearranged some of the furniture to make it work.

Balsam Hill Fraser Fir Christmas Tree

I hope you like it.


This post is in partnership with Balsam Hill.
All ideas, imagery and opinions are my own.

Rustic Natural Christmas Tree



  1. Jaquie says:

    Kristine, I have been a long time follower of your blog and finally feel I need to say something……it’s not just your beautiful presentation and professional photography and exceptional design eye and originality, and wonderful tutorials, though also your writing skills (rare for a design/DIY blogger!) that keeps me coming back. It’s indeed an enviable combination of talent you encapsulate. Thank you for sharing your world with us.

    • Wow, that is one of the most flattering comments I have ever received. Thank you for the too sweet words.
      Now, just to learn how to walk around and fit through doorways with this over-inflated head – LOL!

  2. Sherylee says:

    There is just everything perfect about this tree!! Now, how did you do that?!! I would seriously love some of that beaded garland – what a great find to go with your other wonderful ornaments.
    We have done real trees for the last 5 years and don’t think I will go back to faux now – they are quirky and spindly and sometimes spiky, but we like that.

    • Thanks Sherylee. The wooden bead garland would be an easy DIY. You can buy the beads on eBay then string them yourself.
      There is something charming abut a real tree :)

  3. Elizabeth Palacios says:

    Kristine, I’ve been following your posts for a few years now and I have to concur with Jaquie.I loved your family Christmas story as well. Funny how things are even more lovely in retrospect when you know how much love went into an event, a gift, a dinner..even when it is far from “perfect”.
    Merry Christmas!

  4. Beautiful, and very arty! So well thought out!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family!!!
    Kay and Will

  5. kahlie says:

    I love your honesty about wrapping random things. so funny!!!

  6. Alessandra says:

    Just so beautiful, and so you.

    • Ha, ha, yes. It’s actually funny how decisive I was with how I wanted it to look though I guess that’s because I just went with what I love.

  7. Deb from Maryland says:

    I too am going to jump on the Jaquie/Elizabeth bandwagon! You are the real deal, my dear. Thanks for what you do and here’s hoping your Christmas is merry. :)

  8. Julie says:

    Lovely tree, and so natural looking. I love it. Jaquie is right in the fact that your written word is wonderful to read, and is part of the reason I come back as well as your design style. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks so much Julie. I’ve always loved writing though it’s not something that comes, let’s just say, ‘quickly’, to me. It’s really lovely to know that the time and thought I put into my posts is appreciated :)

  9. Linda Rodgers says:

    I love reading your blog, thank you so much for sharing a bit of your life with us. And you have a Boxer!! We have 9 now that our Samson and Dahlila had puppies!! Anyone who loves a Boxer has a great heart!! Merry Christmas 💜

    • Wow, nine! So lovely!
      Cooper is actually a Pugalier though he is always mistaken for a mini Boxer. I love Boxers.

  10. Lindsey says:

    Can’t wait to see the tutorial for the stars! They’re so perfect!

  11. Alisia says:

    The plywood houses add such a nice touch. Congratulations on a natural and elegant first tree!

  12. Cindy says:

    The houses are so pretty and adding stain was a great idea. They do make beautiful trees. Enjoy Christmas


  13. Debbie says:

    Your honesty with regard to your prior Christmas trees, really touched my heart. I am so happy that this year you had the opportunity from Balsam Hill to get this gorgeous tree. I love all the free prints you have on your blog. Thank you for sharing with us.

  14. Mary says:

    Kristine your tree is simple, rustic and very elegant. Love those little houses. I saw some tin ones but they were so expensive there is no way you can fill up a tree with just two of them. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • I know, ornaments can get soooo pricey. I saw some similar houses in a craft store for around $10 each. Yikes, I used ten! Was so happy when I came across these ones for just $2.

  15. Candy Thomas says:

    That is the prettiest tree I have seen this year!

    • Oh wow, really? What a lovely compliment. Thanks Candy :)

  16. MrsSW says:

    Exceptional! You did a wonderful job with “your” tree. Although my tree is loaded with ornaments and other things that represent 50+ years of memories, I like the simplicity of yours.


    • Thanks so much. Yes, we are only just starting to collect our “memory” ornaments. I’m sure the kids will enjoy hanging them on the second tree. It’s all good and well having a pretty Christmas home though it’s even better to have a meaningful one.

  17. Samantha says:

    Awesome tree, made even more awesome by your dogs face on the couch! so cute!

  18. Hassan says:

    Wow simple but attractive same like your words. I just want to say. that this is amazing.

  19. marcie says:

    Gorgeous. Enjoy this fabulous tree and decorations!

  20. Lillianne says:

    So lovely and inspiring!

  21. Barbara says:

    Very pretty!

  22. Merna Clemens says:

    I love your simple tree! The colors work wonderfully together. I started using a white 7 ft. faux tree several years ago and am still happy with it. It’s simple and monotone with only silver and glass ornaments. I’m glad you got to do a tree for you! Merry Christmas. Micki

    • I’ve never had a white tree though have seen lots of really beautiful ones. Your silver and glass theme sounds very sophisticated :)

  23. Laddie Swain says:

    I love them! So simple yet GORGEOUS! I’ll have to try to make these with my boys = ) Merry Christmas and thank you for all your tutorials.

    • You’re welcome. Glad you like them.
      Thanks so much for being such a loyal follower of my blog. I hope you have a lovely Christmas :)

  24. Parvina says:

    Hi, i loved your tree, especially plywood house , can you please send mw the link where i can order it?

  25. Briana says:

    This might be a little too late.. but this tree is amazing even four years on! do you have a link for the small houses

    • Thanks. They were from Kmart but I think they only stocked them for two years. I can’t find a link sorry.

  26. Tati says:

    I fell in love with your tree, and I wanted the same for myself. It is very beautiful, every detail is filled with comfort. It’s great that I found your blog.

    I also really liked your carpet, we could drop a link to it.

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