Minimalist Christmas Tree from a Coffee Mug Tree or Coffee Cup Holder

Minimalist Christmas Tree from a Coffee Mug Tree or Coffee Cup Holder

There I was at the Goodwill Outlet (aka, “The Bins”)…staring at a coffee mug tree. It was on top of the pile, likely tossed there by someone who scoffed at its missing arm. But me? I grabbed it…broken treasures are my favorite finds. And this mug holder or coffee cup holder was the perfect candidate for a Christmas project. My plan? To transform it into a minimalist Christmas tree or Scandinavian Christmas tree!

Coffee mug tree or mug holder at Goodwill Outlet for upcycling into a Scandinavian Christmas tree

Even better? As I mentally disassembled it in my head, though, I realized that I could get TWO holiday projects from it…but let’s get to Project #1 first.

Coffee cup holder or coffee mug tree that is missing an arm that will be repurposed and upcycled

Taking apart the coffee mug tree was fairly simple- the arms were glued in and over time, the glue had become brittle.

So, with little effort, I was able to remove each arm from the stand/base…and set them aside for Project #2 (which you can find here on the blog!).

Removing the arms from a mug tree or coffee cup holder to upcycle into Scandinavian Christmas decorations

I was left with a flat base with a tall center spindle that had three sets of perpendicular set holes that went all the way through. With the arms of the coffee cup holder removed, I could now transform it into a minimalist Christmas tree.

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Transforming a Mug Holder into a Minimalist Christmas Tree

My plan was to slide wooden dowels into each set of pre-drilled holes. But, I decided I wanted a fourth hole because there was plenty of room near the base (not for a coffee mug, mind you…but certainly for a dowel!).

So, we drilled an extra hole near the bottom of the coffee mug tree.

Drilling an extra hole in a coffee cup holder for upcycling into a small tabletop Christmas tree

The holes were *relatively* even (meaning a dowel could slip through straight across and not look uneven/wonky). Nevertheless, I went ahead and used a round file to clean them up ever so slightly.

Next, I gathered some wooden dowels to transform into tree “branches” for the minimalist Christmas tree.

Branches of a minimalist Christmas tree by upcycling a coffee mug tree with wooden dowels

With four sets of holes, we determined that the four “branches” should be 6”, 8”, 10”, and 12” in lengths. So, we cut down the wooden dowels as such.

After sanding the edges, I slipped them through the holes of the coffee mug tree and glued them in place.

Scandinavian Christmas tree or tabletop tree with a coffee cup holder that will be painted green

Next, it was time to paint the minimalist Christmas tree! I found a mossy green spray paint that had the cool green color was perfect for a Scandinavian Christmas tree or Nordic Christmas decorations.

Once that dried, I hand-painted the base of the mug tree and a tiny part of the spindle in a dark brown to replicate a Christmas tree trunk. NOW my tabletop tree or minimalist Christmas tree was all done and ready to be decorated!

Minimalist Christmas tree with a mug tree from the Goodwill Outlet that has been upcycled with wooden dowels

Minimalist Christmas Tree for Scandinavian Christmas Decorations from a Mug Holder

I gathered some ornaments that I thought would look good on the Scandinavian Christmas tree, including rustic brass bells (similar to these from Target and similar to these from Pottery Barn!) and clear mercury glass.

I loved the combination of neutral colors against the mossy green color of the minimalist Christmas tree.

Decorating a Scandinavian Christmas trees with neutral colored ornaments and brass bells

And that was it – my small tabletop Christmas tree was decorated and ready to display.

Minimalist Christmas tree or Nordic Christmas decorations from upcycling a coffee cup holder

And you know what? You could easily personalize this idea to your holiday tastes. In fact, I think I’ll be on the hunt for another coffee mug tree and spray paint the whole thing silver like a vintage aluminum tree. Then I’ll hang some of my small vintage Shiny-Brites on it!

If you enjoyed this upcycling idea for Christmas decor, then you’ll love this centerpiece idea with a cheese dome or glass cloche!

Making a winter scene with ice skaters on a frozen pond by upcycling a glass cloche or cheese dome

And make sure you check out the other Christmas project I made from this coffee mug tree – DIY ornaments from the wood spindles!

Upcycling the arms from a mug tree or coffee cup holder into wood spindles and DIY Christmas ornaments

Craft on!


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How to make the easy Christmas crafts by upcycling a coffee mug tree into a small tabletop tree and DIY ornaments


  1. OMG… your imagination… it’s amazing!! Love this Nordic Christmas Tree!!


  2. As usual I love it; that color goes especially with with the 40’s kitchen utensil handles and Jadeite (one of the things I don’t collect YET!). You have taught me to think outside the box very well; can’t wait to see what the second project will be! I think the only thing I would be tempted to do here is to make small nicks/notches at the ends of the dowels before painting to prevent ornaments from falling off if it is bumped (darn cats!). Maybe one good rasp of a file? Wish I could see all of your Christmas decorations scattered through your house!

  3. Clever, cute and oh so Christmasy!!

  4. This is so cool! I love how it turned out. I have a teacup tree that I wanted to make a tree out of, but never thought of using dowels for the branches. That’s a great idea! Love the rustic bells, and the vintage Shiny-Brites too. Super cute!

  5. I love this idea!! So easy!

  6. Seriously girl, how creative is this! Oh you definitely need to make your shiny brite tree idea too.

  7. Ahhhh! I l-o-v-e it! Great job styling it too. Can I come hang out with you? Lol.

  8. I saw one of these old mug tree’s at the thrift store the other day. Oh why didn’t I buy it. Love your Nordic Christmas Tree.

  9. This is such a cute and clever idea! I love it!

  10. And I thought using mug trees for storing my bracelets was a clever idea for repurposing..this is a neat idea for empty nesters or people with a small space who might not want to decorate a larger tree. You’ve got me wondering what will happen with the leftovers. Can’t wait to see what you decide, you clever rascal.

  11. Wonderful!! Love how you repurpose everything.

  12. Mary-The Boondocks Blog says

    I had one of these a few years back and didn’t know what to do with it. Great repurpose Sarah!

  13. What a great idea and super cute! I think I have a coffee mug tree somewhere in my stash.


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  2. […] year, I upcycled a broken mug tree into a tabletop Christmas tree…but had set aside the remaining “arms” for another project. Well, I’m happy to say that […]

  3. […] Sarah from Sadie Seasongoods is the queen of upcycling and you can totally see why with her adorable upcycled Christmas coffee mug tree! […]

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