Make an old Christmas tree look more expensive

How to make a fake Christmas tree look more expensive. Pre-strung lights not working, sparse and short. How to update your tree on a budget.

how to make a cheap Christmas tree look expensive

We bought our pre-lit Christmas tree about 6 years ago. At the time it was gorgeous! But since then we’ve moved, and it’s been squished up and down the attic ladder, yearly.

One section of lights went out last year and instead of buying a new tree, we decided it would be best to make due with a $3 string of lights. You know, until after Christmas, when trees will be cheaper.

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But we didn’t actually buy a new tree after Christmas. Does anyone really?

So here we are. Another year has gone by and our squished, old, boxed, broken pre-lit tree…. needs to go.

Someone has got to have one on sale! But the sale wasn’t enough, and the one we really wanted was $300.

What makes that store tree so appealing anyway?

  • It’s tall
  • The branches are full
  • The pine cones with berries are nice
  • The flocking (snow looking stuff)
  • All the lights work

Hey babe! You think you can make me something real quick?

Christmas tree set up out of the box with broken lights and sparse branches
Christmas tree makeover before and after



The first thing we needed to do was make our tree taller. So we made a box tree stand out of 2×4’s and plywood.

old, boxed, Christmas tree from attic
DIY Christmas tree stand made out of 2x4's and plywood.


You can try and replace the burnt out bulb or fuse, but in our case it was easier to completely take off the lights.

  • wire cutters
  • gloves

The fake needles can be a bit rough on your hands. When taking off the pre wrapped lights make sure to protect your hands.

Dismantle your tree and work from the bottom up. After making a few snips with the wire cutters, you should be able to find a pattern and slide the lights off the tips. Working from the trunk of the tree out towards the tips. Taking care not to pull too hard and break the branches.

Pre wrapped Christmas tree lights before taking them off.


Take the time to really fluff your Christmas tree. It sits in the box year after year and needs a little love. Since we decided to makeover the tree this year, I took extra time to really get it right.

  • Start from the bottom and work your way around and then up
  • Start towards the trunk of the tree and work out to the tips
  • Shape every single branch/limb
  • Spread them out horizontal and vertically

This part takes time and patience. It might be worth setting up in your garage and doing it the day before you decorate it with your family.

Fake Christmas tree showing its metal trunk, before being fluffed
Fake Christmas tree showing no metal pole after being properly fluffed
  • If it still looks sparse after fully fluffing your tree you can add garland or a couple of larger wreaths where the tree attaches to the next level.


One of the things I loved about that expensive tree at the store were the pine cones. You could buy them or make your own.

The kids and I decided to make our own. After borrowing without asking our neighbors pine cones, we washed, dried, baked and sealed our own pine cones.

Related Post: How to preserve pin cones

pine cones soaking in water and vinegar
Pine cones sitting on tin foil looking like tiny trees and flowers.


You can pick up flocking spray at the store or even use white spray paint to add a touch of winter to your tree.

For a light dusting using spray paint, spray from 14 or more inches away from the branches. Make sure you pick a day with no wind and allow time to fully dry before decorating.


Turns out we didn’t need a $300 new Christmas tree with pine cones and working lights. We made our own expensive looking Christmas tree and I completely love it!

How to make a fake Christmas tree look more expensive
Fake Christmas tree on a DIY stand to make it taller
Pine cones on a fake Christmas tree

I hope this helps inspire you to have your own DIY Christmas tree makeover and see just how creative you can be.

Best Wishes,


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2 thoughts on “Make an old Christmas tree look more expensive”

  1. Making your own pinecones is so smart!! This is my first year having a faux tree, since getting a real tree from our local Christmas tree farm has been one of our favorite traditions for years. I had the final straw last year when almost half of the pine needles had fallen by Christmas Eve, and we had to call in a carpet cleaner to help clean up the mess. I’m excited to see how the faux tree does this year, and hopefully my pine candle can make up for the lack of scent!

    1. Thank you Amelia! Having a real tree is really special when both price and quality can play nicely together. However, having a faux tree is a good alternative, especially with extra touches like DIY pinecones! You are right the real tree smell is like none other, but my wax warmer (like your candle) helps make up for it. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Holiday Season!

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