Enjoy a Live Christmas Tree—Without the Full-Size Care—with a Tabletop Tree

Get all the best parts of a real tree, without the high price and extra maintenance.

Decorated potted Christmas tree with lights

Caspar Benson / Getty Images

A big, live Christmas tree brings a sense of magic into the home during the holiday season—but depending on how much space you have and what maintenance needs you want to put up with, a full, real Christmas tree may not be the option that makes the most sense for you. If you don’t want to go artificial but can’t fully commit to a full-size tree, potted Christmas trees are the perfect on-trend solution. They give the benefits of a fresh scent and beautiful branches, but you don’t have to worry about the height of your ceilings or your pets or kids getting into the branches. A potted tabletop Christmas tree is also a simple way to bring a touch of the holidays to your office or bedroom. 

You can find a plethora of options at retailers online or your local home improvement store, and you can still decorate the tree to your heart’s content. Here’s a guide to decking out your own real tabletop Christmas tree. 

Choosing a Potted Christmas Tree

For a potted tree that brings the festive feels, a pine, fir, cypress, or spruce make great options. Make sure to read up on care instructions to determine how much sunlight and watering the plant requires and what its weather preferences are. Real Christmas trees usually require regular watering, but potted types can have different needs. 

Take this Norfolk Island Pine from The Sill: It’s a tropical evergreen, so it can last well past Christmas, and it only needs to be watered every couple of weeks. However, it doesn’t like the cold, so it’s best to keep it inside away from a drafty window. You could also opt for a fir like this Live Tabletop Christmas Tree, which has sturdy branches for ornaments and the classic balsam scent.

In general, it’s best to keep your potted tree away from any heat sources, like vents or radiators, to keep them from drying out and needles from dropping. 

Decorating a Potted Christmas Tree

The bonus of decorating a potted Christmas tree is you can make it look elaborate and elegant with little time and effort (it’s also more affordable than decking out a six-foot tree). Instead of buying multiple packages of string lights, one or two with smaller bulbs will likely suffice, or you can wrap tinsel or beads around the branches if you don’t want to deal with plugging anything in. Hang some mini ornaments for a finishing touch and cohesive look.

Another way to up the festiveness is with the pot the tree comes in—paint it to match your holiday aesthetic or tie a bow around it. If your plant has room below it, consider placing your smaller gifts at the base to get the full Christmas experience.

With your tree being on the smaller side, you have the ability to move it around as the season goes on. Play around with the placement to determine what you like best. If you put it outside and it seems to need a warmer environment, you can always bring it in (or vice versa).

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