driftwood {christmas tree}

christmas tree

Hello, hello!  Last Wednesday I read this post from these two uber-talented (and funny) gals, Katie B and Sherry P and REALLY wanted to participate.  This time around they are co-hosting the challenge with Ana White and Erin from House of Earnest.

stalked followed the summer challenge and just loved the idea and the projects that were submitted.  But at that point I hadn’t taken the plunge into Pinterest OR blogging.  But, I had just gone beach combing to gather driftwood to make something like this pic I had pinned.  (Pic source here.) 

christmas tree

And, since I live on the island of Curaçao and am literally surrounded by driftwood AND fancy myself a DIYer I figured I’d give it a go.  First, I made this one:
christmas tree

then I made a couple more…

christmas tree

 christmas tree

As you can see, I played around with decorating them with a combination of coral, sea glass and more traditional Christmas tree décor.  And from there I was unstoppable.  Well, except when Ellen came on.  Seriously, Justin Timberlake and Cold Play for the whole hour?!?!  Yes please!

For a complete rundown, here was my process over the course of a few days:
christmas treeGather driftwood – Free and Fun! Especially since I was with the hubs.  :)

When we got the wood home it ended up in a pile on our patio and I started organizing it by size and separating the odd-shaped pieces that might make good “tree trunks”.  (Yes, we clearly over-gathered, but there are other projects in sight.)  I basically ended up with two long lines of wood in the shape of a VERY tall tree.

This made it easier to select pieces for the individual trees I was going to make since the end shape I wanted was, well, a tree.  Brilliant!  With the pieces all laid out I sprayed them with an anti-bacterial cleaner and let them dry thoroughly over the course of a few days.  Then just brush off any loose sand, etc as you select pieces to use.  (Please excuse the black dog leg and tail in the photo, you can formally meet her here.)
christmas treechristmas treeBuy dowels – I got ¼ inch diameter in 48 inch long segments and ½ and ¾ inch diameter in 36 inch lengths.  I can give pricing, but being that I live on a Caribbean island everything is inflated.  Let’s just say they’re cheap. :)
christmas tree

Make sure you have the right size drill bits – One that is the exact size of the dowel and then one slightly bigger (the wood goes on the dowel MUCH easier if the hole is slightly larger, but the snug fits are good for stability).  I used a 5/16 inch drill bit as my “slightly bigger” of the ¼ inch and a 9/16 inch drill bit for the ½ inch dowel.

TIP!!! Drill the thinner pieces and the smaller pieces of driftwood at the top of the tree the exact size as the dowel, the thinner/smaller the piece of wood = the easier to finagle the tight fit.
christmas tree

Gather your tools – I used a hand saw, electric drill, tape measure, pen and vice grips. From my experience the vice grips will only be necessary if you insist on man handling a piece of wood onto the dowel and then the dowel breaks while stuck in the wood.

TIP!!!  I learned, after a few vice grip usages (I am nothing if not a slow learner) that if the dowel starts to stick in the driftwood make the hole slightly larger by maneuvering the drill in a circular motion with the drill in the existing hole and DON’T try to show it who is boss, you will lose.

DIY it!  I started by selecting the longest piece of driftwood I wanted for each specific tree and then selected increasingly smaller pieces until I had the height I wanted.  The possibilities really are limitless.  Do you prefer a short, stout tree?  Or maybe a tall, slender tree that would fit nicely into a corner?  Or maybe a petite little one for a side or coffee table?

I like the “diversity” of the wood.  So I would try to pick a round piece after a flat piece or maybe one that had some paint or texture after a flat, smooth piece. But again, make it to your own style.  Maybe a more streamlined look of all the same color and shape is more your style?

Once I had the wood for the tree selected I picked a “trunk”.  The biggest determining factor in your options is going to be what you were able to find at the beach.  (I can picture you saying “Why thank you Captain Obvious!” right now.)  Anyway, it is what it is so pick from what you’ve got, or distress a small block of 2×4 or something that could work.

Then I laid my selections out to 1) make sure it seemed like it was going to look good and 2) measure the length of dowel I would need.  I didn’t actually use the tape measure for this part, I just eye balled it and cut the dowel with my handsaw.  I kept mine plenty long figuring it would be easier to cut more at the end than to end up needing a longer piece.  (And, there are some really cute tall tree toppers that could be used if the dowel is left 6 or so inches taller than the actual tree.)

 christmas tree

Now, just drill it – I used the drill bit the exact same size as the dowel in the “trunk” so it fits nice and snug.

As you can clearly see from the pics a real work space is not needed. ;) I stacked a couple unused patio bricks to create a work surface (with a small separation in the middle for drilling and sawing) and sat in a beach chair because it was just the right height.  Measure half the length of the piece of wood and then I just eye balled half the width.
christmas tree

I actually kept the tape measure in the locked position and right there on my work surface because you will repeat this step for each piece of wood.  (Remembering to switch between your two drill bits as you see fit.)  I chose to drill one piece at a time and then add it to the tree as I went, then I could see how each piece looked and determine which drill bit I should use next.

After a few accessories, these are a couple of the trees I ended up with.
christmas treechristmas treechristmas tree

What do you think?  I would love to hear your feedback!
driftwood christmas tree collage

Update:  Find many more upcycling ideas here, like an easy driftwood fish craftseaglass and driftwood Christmas craft, coconut candy corn and silhouette art.

I’ve been thinking that I might try a driftwood version of something like the tall tree in this picture…
christmas tree

I found this tree pic here.

Just for fun here is the view I had from Pilates Monday morning.  I hope you are all enjoying your space today!christmas tree


  1. Astrid at RedRedCompletelyRed says

    Looks great! I love driftwood , too — ah, to live by the beach! Where will you put your trees?

  2. says

    Thank you Astrid for taking the time to leave a comment! You have all kinds of great things on your blog! I will actually be selling some trees at an upcoming Brit Club (I saw you are British – it’s one fun bunch!) meeting. I am an American living in the Caribbean and a member of the Brit Club. Go figure. :) I do hope to make some bigger ones and then we’ll see where they end up in our small space. Enjoy your space today!

  3. Dana says

    These are AMAZING! I love these trees. If only I lived near some driftwood! Somehow scouring the banks of the Mississippi in St. Louis doesn’t sound nearly as wonderful as your time on the beach. :-)

  4. Carole Chang says

    Your trees look neat Karah & I love your blog! Success with your venture & have a lot of fun meanwhile! Looking forward to your ‘exhibit’ at The Brit Club meeting in december!!

    • says

      Thanks Carole! I am having fun with the blog and the trees. I’m looking forward to the meeting, and Pub Quiz Saturday, see you there. I hope you’re enjoying your space today! :)

  5. says

    THANK YOU Dana! I have been following you since I saw your side table on Knock Off Decor! Love your stuff. Not sure if you’re a baseball fan, but congrats on the Cardinals’ World Series win. Looking forward to what you come up with next. Thanks again for taking the time to comment. :)

  6. Kelley says

    Oh Wow!! I am so touched that you loved my House Rules made from a camping chair! The funniest thing is that this weekend I was at Crafts Direct in St Cloud, MN and found these rules as a vinyl rub on. I could have saved so much time! Oh well!

    I love your project! Very creative!

  7. says

    Oh my goodness I am so jealous of your Pilates and the view! These trees are beautiful! I love that you used something so organic and repurposed it into something so pretty. Driftwood is pretty on its own if you ask me.

    Have you linked up with Creative Me Monday? It’s open all week long and I’d love to have you! You can link up as many projects as you’d like! The link is:


    Hope to see you there!

  8. says

    Wow I can’t believe you can find THAT much driftwood!! I’m living in the Caribbean right now and it is few and far between… but I have been stocking up on sea glass! Thanks for sharing, I’ll have to scour the beach to find enough to make a tree!!

  9. says

    My goodness, these are so cute! I’ve been meaning to make one for a while, your cute trees have definitely inspired me to actually do it. Thanks for sharing!

  10. says

    Love your Driftwood Christmas Tree. A girl after my own heart! I have handmade Driftwood Sailboats and Whales up on my blog and would love for you to check them out. I’m also giving away a Driftwood Sailboat. Glad I found you…..Sherron

  11. says

    Thanks for this tutorial that I found by googling xmas driftwood trees. I don’t live near the beach, but I just go in the forest and collect fallen off branches. I hope this will give a good enough result! Just tired of cleaning up pine needles, and I am very muchinto DIY lately. So this looks like a great project.

    • says

      I think branches will work great. I’ve made a few bigger ones since this post and just used a 1/2 or 3/4 inch dowel for the bottom half and drilled straight down into that dowel with a 1/4 inch drill bit and inserted a 1/4 inch dowel to finish up the top. Hope you have fun making yours! Happy Holidays!

  12. says

    Karah- I LOVED this project the moment on saw it. Then I saw that you had joined my crafty christmas tree challenge and I’m so excited! I think yours will be the only handmade tree with handmade ornaments- that’s awesome- not to mention such an unusual take on the normally tradition pine tree.

  13. says

    This is great! I started something similar but ended up with something totally different so I still have this on my to-do list.

  14. says

    It’s so rustic! And, beachy, and…natural!
    I’m glad that your family decided to keep it up all year. I Pinned it at http://pinterest.com/pin/218495019391459133/

    I’m hoping that we will make one of our own. Since we live in the Midwest and not on a beach – lucky bird – ours will likely be a bit more rugged. We can use fallen wood from the woods!

    So excited!
    Thanks for sharing your tutorial!
    ~ Dana
    Cooking at Cafe D

  15. says

    I’m gonna get in trouble for this, so hopefully not a lot of people are coming back to read your first post and if they do, that they don’t read my comment. But sometimes I can’t help myself when I think of something funny, sooooo

    I started by selecting the longest piece of drift wood too, his name is Brawn.


  16. says

    Lots of fun here today, Karah!
    I might go to Pilates if my view looked like that.
    Great work!
    P.S. I’m going to call Miss Bliss out on her comment-
    I saw it, Mrs. Brawn! What a laugh!

  17. says

    LOVE this christmas tree! I collect mini xmas tree and (as if I need another…) I am SO making this at some point before this xmas. It will be the newest addition to my collection. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Visit my blog sometime if you have the chance :) http://www.misstweedle.blogspot.com

    ~ Katie from Canada

  18. says

    How adorable these are! Found the link for this post from your who the heck are you post. Love the look of these trees. How lucky you are to live near such a huge supply of driftwood!
    Debbie :)

  19. Kristy Rohm says

    A whole year later and you are STILL amazing!!!! I missed this post…wasn’t following you then but I love these trees!!!

  20. michelle brice says

    stumbled across your site on facebook , love driftwood, i live about 15 20 mins away from the sea but im there at least 2 times a week collecting the beautiful driftwood that the sea washes up. ive also made some of the trees, mine do not look as good as yours. i make driftwood signs aswell..i love it all, will love to follow your creations..do u have facebook atal..
    by the way your beach looks awesome, lots and lot of lovely wood..

  21. says

    New here….only got here a year later! ;-) THIS post is the answer to my prayers! I have been searching for a tut to get one of these babies up and running in time for Christmas this year, and viola! – I thankfully stumbled onto yours. Can’t wait to get started, but first up, thanx heaps for sharing all the details. Happy festive season to you and yours. Heather x

  22. says

    The driftwood tree is perfect!!…I am envious that you can just pluck the driftwood from the beach…I almost “bought” a piece of driftwood in the summer…bought thought…no, i think I shall try and find one…it would be so much better…but no luck…no driftwood in the land of acorns….

  23. Jessica says

    I live on Oahu and I just collected a bunch of driftwood yesterday to make a Christmas tree. I read your instructions and they seem easy enough to follow, I hope mine turns out as good as yours!


  1. [...] Sweet Stuff, Cheri at It’s So Very Cheri and Beth at Home Stories A to Z for featuring my Driftwood Christmas Trees over the weekend.  I get stupid giddy when I see the pics of my trees floating around the world [...]

  2. [...] Truth be told, this step took me FOREVER.  I just wasn’t sure what I was looking for.  I tried muting these maps even more.  I wanted ocean pics for Maine but wasn’t loving the blue.  Uhhh, not sure what I was expecting exactly.  I hemmed and hawed for a few days and based on the pics on my camera I made another, larger Driftwood Christmas tree (more on the trees I’ve made here), [...]

  3. [...] {Driftwood Christmas Tree} – And my very first post…granted a couple of these features were solicited.  As much I would have liked to have come out of the gate as the Justin Bieber of blogging, I chose to send a few emails to do some shameless promotion to try to get the word out about my little space in the blog-o-sphere.  But, some of them liked me all on their own.  They liked me, they really did.  ;) [...]

Let me know what you think!