This merry and bright cardboard Christmas tree is a fantastic recycled holiday art project for kids, and a great way to use up scrap paper and wrap! | via barley & birch
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All, Make

Make: A Merry and Bright Cardboard Christmas Tree

Rockefeller Center, eat your heart out! NYC has nothing on our eye-popping evergreen – the latest addition to our cardboard art project family and merriest little Christmas tree you ever did see.

Cardboard boxes keep piling up on my doorstep (signs from the art gods!) so I’ve spent the better part of December recycling them into holiday decorations (did you catch yesterdays’ mini holiday village?). Using the magic of color, shape, pattern, and scraps, you can make a stunningly jolly Christmas tree just like ours!

This merry and bright cardboard Christmas tree is a fantastic recycled holiday art project for kids, and a great way to use up scrap paper and wrap! | via barley & birch
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My baggies of paper scraps overfloweth (especially this time of year) so I cut a quick pile of simple shapes out and went to town “decorating” an easy interlocking cardboard tree. By the time I was finished, the patchwork of patterns had morphed into beautiful abstract ornaments. I’m so pleased with the graphic look of this recycled beauty – can’t you just imagine it lighting up the city night?

Our DIY cardboard Christmas tree lighting up the city night! | via barley & birch
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You don’t need any fancy art or craft supplies for this bright and colorful Christmas tree, and it makes for a phenomenal invitation to create (give it a kid lit spin with one of our favorite Christmas tree picture books too!). Even better, you can disconnect the pieces at the end of the season to pack them flat and store for next year. Believe me, this is one lovely keepsake you won’t want to toss out come January.

This festive new tree has become the talk of our cardboard town! You can visit the tutorial for our cardboard city landscape book to make your own city Christmas scene!

For your own DIY recycled cardboard Christmas tree you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • Scrap cardboard or a cereal box (at least 8.5-inches x 11-inches)
  • A utility knife and/or scissors (I love this kind for cutting cardboard!)
  • Acrylic, tempera, or chalkboard paint and a foam brush
  • Scrap paper in assorted patterns and colors
  • A glue stick

OPTIONAL SUPPLIES:

  • Office supply label stickers, gold foil stars, etc.
  • Markers or chalk pens (this is the white chalk marker I use)

DIY Recycled Cardboard Christmas Tree Instructions:

  1. Gather two pieces of scrap cardboard

    Find two pieces of cardboard that are at least 8.5-inches x 11-inches (I used 9-inch x 13-inch to make it a bit bigger). I didn’t have a ruler handy, so instead of running to find one, I used a handy little cheat.

    Gather 2 pieces of scrap cardboard for your Christmas tree base | via barley & birch
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    Fold a piece of paper in half – place in the center of your cardboard, then make a dot at the top and bottom, right at the fold. The top dot marks the top point of your tree (the bottom dot will come in handy shortly).

  2. Draw the cut lines for your tree pieces

    Using a straight edge (I just used the cardboard) make lines from the top center dot to each bottom side. These are the cut lines for your trees.

    Draw triangle cut lines for the tree onto your cardboard pieces | via barley & birch
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    We’re going to create two interlocking pieces, so also make a line at the middle half-way up the center of one piece, and halfway from the top on the other piece.

  3. Cut out

    Cut out your tree pieces with a utility knife – parental help suggested for this!

    Cut out with a utility knife | via barley & birch
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  4. Paint your tree pieces

    Paint both sides of each tree piece – I chose green paint for a traditional evergreen Christmas tree look, but you can choose whatever color you prefer.

    Paint both sides of each tree piece | via barley & birch
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  5. Gather paper scraps or leftover holiday wrapping paper

    You’re ready to decorate your Christmas trees! I happen to have bags of scrap paper, but you can easily cut some up quickly. This is a great way to recycle those leftover bits of Christmas wrap too!

    You're ready to decorate your Christmas trees! | via barley & birch
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  6. Decorate!

    Use a glue stick to glue the scrap paper shapes or leftover wrapping paper on to all sides of your tree.

    Use a glue stick to glue on scrap paper shapes or leftover wrapping paper | via barley & birch
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    Note: before you turn your tree piece over to finish the opposite side, be sure the glue has completely dried – there’s nothing worse than having your lovely work stick to the paper or desktop!

  7. Step 7

    Make small candles for your tree out of small cardboard rectangles and paper circles + flame.

    Make small candles for your tree with cardboard and paper | via barley & birch
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  8. Assemble

    Interlock your Christmas tree pieces and glue on the cardboard candles. “Oooooohh” and “ahhhh” as you gaze on your tree with awe and wonder!

    Interlock your Christmas tree pieces and glue on the cardboard candles | via barley & birch
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I don’t know about you, but I feel like this is an instant mood booster! It captures all the joy I feel when I look at our real tree. Like the special ornaments on my own evergreen, each scrap paper piece takes me right back to a memory of one of this year’s b&b projects.

This merry and bright cardboard Christmas tree is a fantastic recycled holiday art project for kids, and a great way to use up scrap paper and wrap! | via barley & birch
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Make your own holiday forest and try a few other unique trees! Visit our 3D paper advent tree with pop-in ornaments, or build a cool mini Christmas tree farm out of pinecones!

Use a glue stick to glue scrap paper shapes or leftover wrapping paper on to your cardboard Christmas tree | via barley & birch
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*A note about Amazon affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

This merry and bright cardboard Christmas tree is a fantastic recycled holiday art project for kids, and a great way to use up scrap paper and wrap! | via barley & birch
  • Save
This merry and bright cardboard Christmas tree is a fantastic recycled holiday art project for kids, and a great way to use up scrap paper and wrap! | via barley & birch
  • Save
This merry and bright cardboard Christmas tree is a fantastic recycled holiday art project for kids, and a great way to use up scrap paper and wrap! | via barley & birch
  • Save
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About Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help families discover their creative potential and be inspired to make the world a better place through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. When not playing with ideas, designs and projects for barley & birch, Amanda enjoys working as a modern art curator and managing her own small design business.

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