Adding a coastal feel to Christmas is easier than you might think. Use beach finds to create this simple seasonal decoration, designed by Shore Cottage Studio. Words and photographs: Shore Cottage Studio


• an old belt (one per tree)

• driftwood in varying sizes

• hot glue gun

• pair of scissors or a craft knife and cutting mat

• shells to decorate

• star for the top of your tree

• mince pies and a nice cup of tea (optional)


1. Consider where your tree will be hung when choosing your belt and driftwood. If you have a short, thin belt, use smaller pieces of driftwood to create a small tree. A wide, chunky belt will support bigger pieces and makes a big tree that could be hung on a door. Lay your belt out with the buckle end towards you and have a play with the driftwood. Start with bigger pieces at the bottom and get smaller as you go up.

2. Trim any excess length off your belt, a good pair of scissors should do the trick, even on leather, or use a craft knife. A plain leather belt can simply be cut to length but a braided one like the one shown needs to be cut about an inch longer than the finished tree. This is then folded over and secured with a blob of hot glue to stop it unravelling. Hold the folded end together with a clothes peg until the glue has cooled.

3. Use the glue gun to put a good dollop of hot glue on the centre of the back of your first piece of driftwood and quickly press it into position. Take care not to add too much or the glue will squeeze out from behind the driftwood and spoil the neat finish. Continue glueing until all the driftwood has been added. Make sure you use the stand on your glue gun to protect your work-surface from the hot tip.

4. Decorate with the shells. We stuck to the design rule that odd numbers of objects are more pleasing to the eye than even. We also kept our trees fairly minimal by decorating every other branch, but clustering every branch with lots of shells gives an equally good effect. We finished ours with a star – the smaller one with a slate star from the beach and the larger with a porcelain starfish from a charity shop.

Click through our gallery below to see the Christmas tree in progress:

In search of more crafts? Try our step-by-step guide for making a coastal winter lantern, knitted journal cover, or keep an eye out for crafts in the magazine.

Shore Cottage Studio consists of three generations of artists living and working on the Wirral Peninsula. They run short creative courses taking inspiration from their surroundings in fused glass, photography, textiles and laser-etching. They also exhibit their work and produce commissions. Oh, and there is usually cake. You can book a course or commission a piece on their website