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How to Make Seashell Christmas Tree Topiaries

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June is from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, but is currently residing in New York. She loves to cook naturally with plants from her garden.

Add some beach-themed trees to your Christmas decorations!

Add some beach-themed trees to your Christmas decorations!

How to Make Seashell Christmas Tree Topiaries

Seashell topiaries look like miniature seashell Christmas trees and are a perfect addition to a coastal Christmas décor. There are endless ways they can be incorporated into a seashell coastal Christmas theme. Just put your imagination into creative mode.

Don’t Know Where to Put Your Topiary?

  • On the end of the mantle as anchor pieces
  • In the center of the mantle as the focal point
  • In the dining room, as a coastal tablescape theme
  • On a coffee table or end tables as Christmas decorations
  • On bathroom and kitchen counters
  • On the stairs.
  • On any empty surface begging for a seashell Christmas Tree

DIY Seashell Christmas Tree Topiaries Tips

Since I have made these all before, I've learned a tip or two. Here are some of the best pieces of advice I can offer when building your shell tree.

  • Instead of spray painting everything white, the seashells can be left in their natural state. Nothing compares to the beauty of the magnificent creations of Mother Nature.
  • It really is not that difficult to select pieces to use at the base of a seashell Christmas tree. It doesn't matter if the pieces are brand new, shabby chic, antique reproductions, or genuine, worn with love antique pieces.
  • I love being a "seagull" during the warm summer months by scavenging garage sales, thrift stores, junk shops, and antique stores looking for items I can use for DIY projects for my home décor. I have come across some fabulous finds for next-to-nothing prices. Then when I need something for a project during the winter, I can search through my summer finds.
  • I spray paint my seashells silver and my cardboard cone silver, then glue my silver seashells (once dried completely) to the silver cone. I discovered through trial and error that the tree looked its best, the most professional, if I did it this way rather than gluing the seashells on first and then spray painting the whole thing.
  • I also discovered that a foam cone will absorb way too much paint and that a cardboard sheet worked much better. I did spray with a primer first and then sprayed over the dried primer with a Krylon Mirror Paint. Incidentally, Krylon does make its mirror paint in gold and copper, too, so that you can paint to match your Christmas décor.
  • I only used clamshells, scallop shells, and fan shells as they looked the best when overlapping, and they are the easiest to layer.

Cone Shape Pattern for the Base of Seashell Tree

A styrofoam cone form isn't always necessary to build a seashell tree. For example, the sea urchin tree featured isn't glued to a structure.

A form is only used to hold the conical shape of the tree. This pattern is from It can be copied and printed at home, or you can make one yourself.

All you need is a protractor to make the arc line. The same thing can be done with a pencil and string if you don't have a protractor.

How to Make the Cone Pattern

  1. Measure the string length to the same height you want your tree to be. If you want your tree to be 14" tall, your string will be 14" long.
  2. Add another 2" to tie around the pencil.
  3. Holding the loose end of the string taut at the corner of your paper (newspaper works fine for patterns if no other paper is available), draw the arc line with the pencil from one side to the other. This will create your cone shape.
  4. Cut out at the arc line and join the sides with glue or tape.
A great example of a white shell topiary.

A great example of a white shell topiary.

How to Make a White Seashell Topiary for Christmas

A white seashell topiary sculpture, such as this one, is an excellent example of an exquisite seashell accent to anchor the ends of the fireplace mantle. Create an all-natural white seashell topiary by using only white seashells. The seashells will range in color from stark white to off-white to ivory and cream, with many subtleties of color shades and hues in between.


  1. Get one or two cone-shaped styrofoam pieces.
  2. Glue your shells, starfish, and pieces of coral to cover the cone, overlapping where necessary for design effect and to cover the cone completely.
  3. Spray paint the whole thing white. You could also leave the shells natural if you wish. It is all a matter of taste and the look you want.
  4. Glue the cone into a white planter urn.
  5. If you already have a couple of matching urns at home, just spray paint the shells white.

This makes for a gorgeous all-natural display in a coastal theme setting. Using the decorator's "Rule of Odd Numbers" for display purposes, I would make and use either a single topiary or three of them in varying heights for a beautiful coastal-themed display.

A great example of a sea urchin tree

A great example of a sea urchin tree

How to Build a Tabletop Sea Urchin Christmas Tree

Isn't this tree magnificent? While it looks complicated to make, it really isn't! Just follow these easy steps.

Materials Needed

  • Sea Urchins
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • T-pins or long straight pins
  • Cone-shaped form (find the pattern below)
  • One starfish
  • One battery-operated light


  1. Put down newspaper to protect the tabletop surface from hot-glue drips and burns.
  2. Starting at the base of the form, add hot glue to the side of each sea urchin.
  3. Pin the sea urchin shells to the base of the conical form with a T-pin, forming a ring of urchins around the base.
  4. Continue this process, row by row, until the form is completely covered. Be careful NOT to glue the urchins to the form underneath. They should be glued to each other, NOT to the structure itself.
  5. Top with a sea urchin sitting flat. I must warn you to be very careful handling sea urchins as they are very fragile and break easily.
  6. Let dry for several hours until completely set.
  7. Remove the T-pins and carefully remove the conical form by sliding it out gently.
  8. Glue a starfish on top and add a light inside.

In the photo above, she has a great idea of using a glass block with lights already in the block.

Another possibility for display is to set the finished sea urchin Christmas tree in an urn. Place the light in the bottom of the urn, then carefully insert the sea urchin Christmas tree inside the urn.

A great example of a metallic shell Christmas tree

A great example of a metallic shell Christmas tree

DIY Metallic Tabletop Christmas Tree Tutorial

This metallic tree will really catch your eye! It looks very realistic and is truly a gift from the ocean.


  1. The starting point for the first row is at the base of the cone. Glue the shells with the largest side of the seashell facing downward, as close to each other as possible, all around the cone's base to create the first row.
  2. It is up to you if you prefer the shells to face inward or outward.
  3. After that, select shells with a slight variation in size to fit each row snugly with the least amount of gaps.
  4. Overlap each layer as you go around the row. The rows look so much prettier if each is individually glued against the cardboard.
  5. Remember, each row will be about one seashell size smaller than the last as the cone gets smaller in diameter. The shells are pointing upward (I would glue them downwards), and they have been glued directly onto the surface of the cone, leaving too much space in between the shells allowing the cone surface to show. We want the least amount of surface space shown as possible.
  6. Paint a small sea star and place it on top. I would refrain from using a big sea star since it would make the piece look chunky and unbalanced.
  7. Once all the seashells have been glued in place, lightly dust with spray adhesive glitter to add that extra layer of sparkle to reflect the candlelight.


KonaGirl (author) from New York on July 15, 2020:

Seashell crafting can have really beautiful results. Thank you for the comment.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on July 15, 2020:

Great idea. I've never seen anyone using seashells or sea urchins in such a way to create these design.

KonaGirl (author) from New York on March 12, 2020:

In Hawai, Florida, the Philippine Islands, and the Caribbean you can still collect seashells for free. I have bought seashells from Amazon too now that I'm in NY and no longer have enough of my own to make what I want.

The last time I went home to The Big Island, I did do some beachcombing for more seashells but they are not as plentiful as they use to be.

Thanks for stopping and commenting.

Kyler J Falk from California on March 12, 2020:

My father and I used to do sea shell sculptures. Some of our pieces went for more than one-hundred-fifty dollars, and we were baffled at how much people would pay for things we did for free. Unfortunately most beaches in California are now preservation zones and taking shells home will net you a lovely fine and possibly some jail time.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on November 07, 2019:

These are lovely creations. I am so good at crafts such as this but I think I may have to give these a try. I have many places nearby where I can collect shells. I do have a large number of special ones that I collected in different locations throughout Florida. Thank you for sharing. Angels are headed your way this evening. ps

KonaGirl (author) from New York on January 21, 2015:

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. Nice to "meet you, Romanian

KonaGirl (author) from New York on January 01, 2015:

Thanks Dale. Always great to hear from you!

KonaGirl (author) from New York on December 31, 2014:

LOL! Thanks for stopping by.

KonaGirl (author) from New York on December 26, 2014:

Thanks for the visit and Merry Christmas!

KonaGirl (author) from New York on December 18, 2014:

Thanks so much! I really appreciate the nice comment and pinning!

KonaGirl (author) from New York on December 12, 2014:

Mahalo nui, Stephanie!

Stephanie Launiu from Hawai'i on December 11, 2014:

Thanks so much for sharing your ideas on seashell Christmas trees. They are beautiful. I like the idea to repaint less-than-pretty shells. Voted up, useful, interesting, beautiful, tweeted and pinned. Aloha, Stephanie

RTalloni on December 10, 2014:

I've never seen seashell décor crafts that I really liked until now. These are beautiful! Thanks for so many tips and the cone pattern. Enjoyed seeing your examples