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How to Make Seashell Christmas Tree Topiaries

Updated on January 23, 2017
Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

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

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 a creative mode.

Here are just a few ideas:

  • They can be set on each end of the mantle as anchor pieces.
  • Place one in the center of the mantle as the focal point.
  • Use them in a coastal tablescape theme. They can be placed at each end of the tablescape or place 3 as a miniature vignette as the tablescape centerpiece.
  • Use them as coffee table or end table Christmas decorations
  • Placed them on bathroom and kitchen counters.
  • Placed them on stairs.
  • Seashell topiaries can be placed on any empty surface begging for a seashell Christmas Tree.

White Seashell Topiary

Hinterland Trading 1 Pound White Sea Shells
Hinterland Trading 1 Pound White Sea Shells
If you don't have a box full of seashells saved from your beach vacation, this bag of bulk seashells offers a pretty good mix of white seashells. It will take 2 - 3 bags to cover a small 12" to 14" topiary.

Small White Tabletop Urn

Hill's Park's 6" x 4.75" Clay Distressed Urn Garden Statue
Hill's Park's 6" x 4.75" Clay Distressed Urn Garden Statue
This small tabletop urn is only 6" tall. It will hold a small seashell topiary of approximately 12" tall. If you right click the link below, you will be able to find much larger white urns if your intent is to build larger seashell Christmas trees. This urn will also be a good base for a sea urchin coastal Christmas tree.

How to Make a White Seashell Topiary for Christmas

A seashell topiary sculpture, such as this one, is a good example of an exquisite seashell accent to anchor the ends of the fireplace mantle. You can easily make one similar:

Steps to Make Your Own Seashell Topiary

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 completely cover the cone.

3. Spray paint the whole thing white once you are happy with your results. You could also leave the shells natural if you wish. It is all a matter of taste and the look you would like to achieve.

4. Glue the cone into a white planter urn.

5. If you have a couple of matching urns at home already; just spray paint them white.

Note: 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 to cream with many subtleties of color shades and hues in between.

This makes for a gorgeous all natural display in a coastal theme setting. Using the decorators "Rule of Odd Numbers" for display purposes, I would make and use either a single topiary or 3 of them in varying heights for a beautiful coastal themed display.

All Natural Seashell Christmas Tree Topiaries

Photo by Janice Anderssen at
Photo by Janice Anderssen at
Hinterland Trading Bulk Seashells for Decoration
Hinterland Trading Bulk Seashells for Decoration
A decent mix of natural seashells to build a seashell topiary.

DIY Seashell Christmas Trees

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.

The cones used in this trio of Christmas trees are attached to plain wooden bases. They are okay, but I would look for something a little more elegant or decorative to put them in such as a decorative shabby chic planter pot.

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 if they are 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.

A DIY Tabletop Sea Urchin Christmas Tree Tutorial

Sea Urchin Christmas Tree


How to Build a Tabletop Sea Urchin Christmas Tree

  1. Gather Your Supplies: Sea Urchins; glue gun and glue sticks; T-pins or long straight pins; cone-shaped form (find pattern below); 1 starfish; and 1 battery operated light.
  2. Put down newspaper to protect the table top surface from hot-glue drips and burns.
  3. Starting at the base of the form, you will be adding hot-glue to the side of each sea urchin, then pinning the sea urchin shell to the base of the conical form with a T-pin, forming a ring of urchins around the base. Continue this process, row by row until the form is completely covered, being careful NOT to glue the urchins to the form underneath. They are being glued to each other. NOT to the form.
  4. Top with a sea urchin sitting flat. I must warn to be very careful handling the sea urchins as they are very fragile and break easily.
  5. Let dry for several hours, until completely set.
  6. Remove the T-pins and carefully remove the conical form by sliding it out gently.
  7. Glue a starfish on top and add a light inside.
  8. In the photo above she has a great idea of using a glass block with lights already in the block.
  9. Another possibility, for display, is to set the finished sea urchin Christmas tree in an urn (see photo below). Place the light in the bottom of the urn then carefully insert the sea urchin Christmas tree inside the urn.

Sea Urchin Christmas Tree


Cone Tree Pattern


Use This Pattern to Make a Cone Shape for Seashell Tree

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

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 just make one yourself.

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

Measure the string length the same height you want your tree to be. If you want your tree to be 14" tall then your string will be 14" long. Add another 2" to tie around the pencil.

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 of the paper to the other. This will create your cone shape. Cut out at the arc line and join the sides with glue or tape.

Paint Ugly Seashells Silver, Gold or Copper


DIY Metallic Tabletop Christmas Tree Tutorial

In the past when I was setting a coastal tablescape using a silver and icy glacier blue theme I created a silver seashell Christmas tree using less than perfect seashells.

I spray painted my seashells silver and my cardboard cone silver, then glued 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 clam shells, scallop shells and fan shells as they looked the best when overlapping and they are the easiest to layer.

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.

It is up to you if you prefer the shells facing inward or outward. The clam shell tree ornament on the above right was made with the clam shells facing outward, glitter added to the edges of the shell, and faux pearls placed on the bowl of the shell.

After that, it is a matter of selecting shells with a slight variation in size to be able to fit each row snugly with the least amount of gaps.

Be sure to overlap each layer as you go around the row. They look so much prettier if each row is individually glued against the cardboard.

Remember, each row will be about one seashell size smaller than the last as the cone gets smaller in diameter.

The photo below best demonstrates how I would not do it. 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 showing as possible.

If you like, paint a small sea star and place it on top. I would refrain from using an oversized sea star as it will make the piece look chunky and unbalanced.

Once all the seashells have been glued in place, lightly dust with a spraying of adhesive glitter to add that extra layer of sparkle to reflect the candlelight.

Clam Shell Christmas Trees


What Do You Think?

What Seashell Christmas Tree is Your Favorite?

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    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      3 months ago from New York

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

    • sangre profile image

      Sp Greaney 

      3 months ago from Ireland

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

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      7 months ago from New York

      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 profile image

      Kyler J Falk 

      7 months ago from Corona, CA

      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.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      11 months ago from North Central Florida

      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

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New York

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

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New York

      Thanks Dale. Always great to hear from you!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New York

      LOL! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New York

      Thanks for the visit and Merry Christmas!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New York

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

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New York

      Mahalo nui, Stephanie!

    • Hawaiian Scribe profile image

      Stephanie Launiu 

      5 years ago from Hawai'i

      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

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      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


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