Bookcase Decorating for Christmas.

This is a really beautiful and effective way to decorate any bookcase for Christmas.  Bookcase presents to fill every nook with Christmas cheer. (Yes, I do happen to find black to be quite cheery. K, maybe not cheery, but very, very chic.)


O.K., you’ve seen the photo above, right? I am assuming that you zoomed in to see what types of books I read. Understandable. I’d do the same thing with a photo of your house as well. BUT let’s focus on the nook fillers. The wrapped black presents with bows.

This idea came about when I saw it at a friend’s house and copied it. I made it much better than he did because a) I’m telling the story and b) his kids were the ones who picked out the wrapping paper for his bookcase presents.  Kids have such bad taste.

I built these built in bookcases just before Christmas. You can read a bit about how I built them here and see their full reveal including the secret storage compartments they have here.   That meant I had to quickly fill them up with something that made them look instantly “Christmassy” but no matter what I did it didn’t look chic or elegant it looked like Santa went on a bender and barfed all over my bookcases. 

So the bookcase presents were born. (copied, stolen, whatever)


These presents aren’t boxes, they’re actually frames made out of 2x2s wrapped in paper.  By screwing the 2x2s together yourself, you get “presents” that fit the exact dimensions of your bookcase nook.

If you’re looking for black wrapping paper, I got mine at Party City but you can get it on Amazon as well. I found this Black Kraft Paper on Amazon which would be perfect because it’s matte PLUS they have it in every colour imaginable – red, green, Tiffany blue, orange …

Matte paper is better than shiny because shiny shows all the wrinkles, marks etc.


By forming the presents with just a few 2x2s you don’t even need to take anything out of your bookcase. You just stick the false present in front of the books. When it’s time to get rid of them you slide them out and your bookcases are exactly like they were before Christmas.  It’s a Christmas miracle, cue the squirming baby Jesus.


Keeping your books where they are and just putting the presents in front of your books only works if you have 1 1/2″ of space behind your books to shove them back a bit.

My presents fit really tightly into their spots but you could put a little leg on the back of them so they don’t tip over.

I used black paper, black velvet and black silk ribbon.  To add contrast so everything stands out you need to add some greenery.  Two sprigs pine, one sprig cedar, one sprig juniper.  I put them all in little floral vials so they won’t dry out by the end of the month.

Update: HAHAHAHAH.  Do you know how little those floral vials are?  You need to fill them like once a day.  I got sick of filling them after day 2. The greenery will be be crispy in about 4 days.  But it’s the thought that counts and I know you’ll be far more conscientious than I am.

Better idea:  Use fake greenery.


I searched around big, bad Amazon for a while and found the best selection of fake greenery picks for Christmas.  

Fake Bookcase Presents

Fake Bookcase Presents

Yield: 4 presents
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour

A fast and easy way to give your bookcases that cozy holiday feeling. These measurements are for a standard Ikea Billy Bookcase but can be revised to fit any bookcase.


  • Two 8' long 2x2s.
  • Wrapping paper.
  • Ribbon.
  • Fake or real greenery.
  • 2.5" nails or screws.
  • Scotch tape
  • White glue or staple gun.


  1. Cut the 2x2s into 14" lengths. (you'll need 8 of them for 4 presents)
  2. Cut the 2x2s into 8.5" lengths. (you'll need 8 of them for 4 presents)
  3. Screw or nail wood together to form a rectangle frame. Your long 2x2s will be the top and the shorter ones will be the sides. Your finished frame will be 14" x 11.5"
  4. Wrap the frame with the wrapping paper of your choice.
  5. Lay ribbon across the present and staple or glue it to the back.
  6. Form a bow and staple it to the ribbon (or use a pipe cleaner to attach it)
  7. Add in greenery to give some holiday feel and add colour contrast.
  8. Place your "present" into the bookcase.


Store these carefully and they'll last for years.

Use whatever kind of paper you want. Vintage wrapping paper would be GREAT.

If you're going to screw the frames together remember to pre-drill the wood so it doesn't split.

Matte paper is better than shiny because shiny shows all the wrinkles, marks etc.

I might go nuts and change the paper on these to red this year, but honestly, I really do like a black Christmas.

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←


Bookcase Decorating for Christmas.


  1. Linda in Illinois says:

    Love ❤️

  2. Leslie Russell says:

    OMG cue the squirming baby Jesus
    that’s as far as I got. have to go get the coffee out of my nose.

  3. Jane says:

    Bookcase? Decorate? Ha! Bookcases breed books, and knickknacks, and small odds and ends, and… You never have enough bookcases, ergo empty spaces, to catch up, let alone decorate.

  4. Carol Hogan says:

    I use lots of “picks” to decorate my presents, but I can’t afford the lovely ones you featured. I go to the dollar store, Target, Walmart, Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or wherever after Christmas and buy the large pieces of Christmas greenery on sale. Then, next year, I cut them up with my trusty wire cutters and have plenty of decorations for my packages. This year I have been saving brown paper grocery bags and am wrapping all my presents in them. (You can iron the wrinkles out.) Then I’m using traditional red, green, and plaid ribbons (also bought last year on sale), my greenery picks and handmade tags cut out of used manilla file folders. I feel so eco-friendly! (and also frugal :) win, win.

    • Karen says:

      The odd time I can find some good ones at the dollar store too! Some of them are hideous, lol. But sometimes you can get a good batch, or mix bits from different ones. My dollar store carries red berries on branches (actually red painted tiny styrofoam balls, lol) but they look great and I use them everywhere at christmas. ~ karen!

  5. Danni McLaughlin says:

    Is Oral Surgery your newest DIY?

  6. Kmarie says:

    😂😂I felt caught by your first few sentences. I admit the initial reason I clicked on your post was to zoom in on the books – the decor was great too of course but yes, you can tell a lot about a person by their books – although mine are in sections and some in different rooms tell more of an accurate story than others. You cracked me up with your insight.

  7. Elaine says:

    Beautiful and so elegant! This is a bookcase version on “the little black dress”!

  8. Jacquie says:

    What a genius idea. And I’m worried about Margaret too.

  9. Tres chic!
    Great idea. Surprising how black can look so festive.

  10. Jody says:

    Great job with the book cases. They look great. And hope you enjoyed YOUR day.

  11. Stephanie Hobson says:

    Yes, where is Margaret?

  12. Grammy says:

    The shelves are beautiful. I love them.

    But, where is Margaret? I’m worried.

  13. Flash says:

    don’t know how anyone has space in a book case. ours are jam packed, tighter than sardines! with some sardines overflowing the can.
    Any tips on how to give up books?
    Happy Holidays from your bud in Alaska

    • Grammy says:

      Same problem here. I used to think I could “style” bookshelves but they fill up with books before anything else has a chance. There are no tips about how to give up books — you have an illness and it’s incurable. Just live with it, because it will make you terminally unhappy if you get rid of the books. Trust me.

      • judy says:

        I am recently widowed and have 10 6 ft tall 3 ft wide walmart bookcases with more books in the attic. Need to downsize yesterday-what do I do with them? With ebooks does anybody own a lot of books? Would like to get rid of them in one swell foop? Scared to have strangers show up at the door and you gotta let them in,even if they have one hand behind their back and a small stream of drool slipping down their chin? Ya know,manners- must be polite……. With 60 years of furniture-closets full of clothes,towels,bedding. So far I just sit in a chair with a large question mark floating in the air.

        • NinaMargo says:

          Judy, have the books boxed up and in the garage, have a friend there with you. Choose a reputable recipient of your goods. What you’re feeling isn’t unusual given your recent loss. My condolences. Not meaning to get too much into your business, but I just helped a friend through this. She was paralyzed by everything she thought she needed to do. By taking a step at a time. Everyone’s grief is their own journey. Let your good friends help you.

        • Sondra says:

          Judy, I understand your problem. Same situation. Haul the books to the Goodwill. They will take them. Sell odd lots on eBay. They will sell if popular novels or “how to” books. I know the lifetime accumulation of everything else. Just take it one step at a time. I’m almost 8 months out from my husband passing and I run hot and cold so accept it will take some time to figure it all out. It comes in stages. It will get better but you have to work through the hard stuff first. Books might not be the most important things to think about or worry about right now. Just take care of you and be well.

        • Grammy says:

          Judy, call your local library. They may be able to help you. If they can’t take all of your books, they might take a good portion of them. They will most likely know of a good place for you to contact about such a large quantity — there are many organizations who can take books for distribution to schools and senior citizen facilities and hospitals, or to use for fundraising. Good luck, and get a friend to help you with this.

    • Jackie says:

      I keep some of my books but most of the time, since I was running out of space, when I am done reading them, I pass them on to another book-lover & she shares them with her daughter. Some they keep & some they pass on to others.

      And Karen – I love this idea. Your shelves look great.

      • Cassie says:

        Love your work Karen and yes you make me snort with every blog-thank you, thank you.
        Book sharing idea- I know it’s sacriledge to even think about writing in a book… but we share mom, granny and more, so we would sign and date when we read it and pass it on.

    • zanna says:

      wrap the books!

  14. Elaine says:

    Congratulations, Karen! I knew you’d get the job done in time. It all looks lovely! The touch of greenery makes the black very festive!

  15. Trackeyb says:

    I love basketball season but I wish Christmas didn’t land in the middle… Oh and the bookcases look great!

  16. Karin in NC says:

    Looks fabulous!

  17. Linda in Illinois says:

    I absolutely love the book case ! and the black wrapped gifts – they are stunning. Very nice job.

  18. Ev Wilcox says:

    Shelves look wonderful Karen! All your hard swear…I mean, work, really paid off! Well done!

  19. maggie van sickle says:

    love it.

  20. Marilyn says:

    Great job Karen, looks fantastic

  21. Louise says:

    Ooooooh! Your dining room looks gorgeous now! I keep going back to the photo to get that jolt of pleasure. What a success your bookcases are!

    The fake gifts are neat, but I’m not sure I’d trust a guy who’d come up with that. ;-) OTOH, he certainly sounds creative! We want to know more!

  22. Cred says:

    Wow! The black presents are stunning. What a great idea. I love the black theme for Xmas.

  23. Mary W says:

    I arrange the tree trimmings onto my mantle and never water them. Just lay a sheet under the mantle after Christmas and swoop them all down onto the sheet and drag them outside. I also put a huge pot of them in the bathroom with no water. I just don’t touch the branches until clean up day. Your black presents are really striking but I can’t get over how gorgeous the tall wide white stripes look on your shelving. Keep going back for the fun affect of seeing the unexpected wide white stripes. Clean, different, and just beautiful (especially set off well with black presents. I imagine the effect is even better in real life being they are satin and velvet – LOVE the texture. Totally worth your hard work and time which is very easy for me to say.

    • Mary W says:

      I did use fake presents one year under my tree since there wasn’t a lot of presents – the kids were older but I still wanted to fill it up. So I wrapped up empty cardboard boxes which looked wonderful and even better when I set out my trash LOL. They disappeared before the garbage men came.

  24. Rose says:

    … it, and yes about the coach?

  25. Ann says:

    I sure wouldn’t bother with the little water vials. Just keep cutting fresh greens every few days until the holidays are over

  26. jainegayer says:

    Beautiful, classy and I love the fake presents in the bookcase. So you or it would have been you if the coach hadn’t thought of it first.

  27. Lesley says:

    I like the look. Think I might cut thick chunks of styrofoam to fit the shelves and wrap those. Avoid that whole twisting and needing a leg thing.

  28. Lynn says:

    Oh have to say fake presents great idea ;). I use to mess with my kids an husband when I was younger, I always put out fake presents . With notes inside telling them that Santa knows an is watching. Due to the fact they they always were so snoopy, real ones were keep at a friends that had no kids. The real ones were wrapped identically so they were never sure as sometimes I would just change the name tag. They called me mean , I just wanted them to be surprised at Christmas.

    • Mary W says:

      Love your story! My daughter saw all her presents one year and then pretended to be surprised on Christmas morning. About a week later she said it was the worst Christmas ever. (I used to tell my kids to not go in my closet because their presents were inside.) After my daughter looked, it never happened again. She was my best salesman on not peeking. I thought I was teaching them patience but your idea is even better – teaching them Mom always knows what they are up to. Love it.

      • Ev Wilcox says:

        I took a rather “meaner” approach when my eldest son snooped on his birthday presents when he was a kid. He got them on his birthday, but I did not wrap them. Lesson learned.

      • Julie says:

        Mary, my two daughters confessed to me several years later that they had snooped too, and that that Christmas had been the worst ever. Clearly it doesn’t pay to snoop!

  29. Melissa says:

    Wow! I had to do a double take, no wait, a triple take….those bookcases are gorgeous and awesome and not sure how you pulled it off, but, W.O.W.

    LOVE the ‘present on the bookshelf’ idea, what a completely ingenious idea, and you rocked it with the black color scheme. So stealing that idea!

    Seriously though, the shelves look custom and you did a great job, you should be proud.

  30. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Sheeez…Don’t you know that b-ball coaches make the BEST decorators…clearly the man is a genius…my coach/decorator is awesome…I just love the hoop hanging from the center of my bookcase…and I find tossing the ball in the basket from the comfort of my sofa is sooo relaxing… seriously looks great Karen! lol

    • Nancy Blue Moon says:

      and once again you’ve gotten yourself in a mess by mentioning a man friend…didn’t I warn you the last time??…by this time tomorrow people will be wanting to know when the wedding is…God help you girlfriend…

  31. Stephbo says:

    Oooh. Nice catch, CJ! Yeah. So what about this coach?

  32. Edith says:

    What a great idea! Love the black!

  33. Auntiepatch says:

    Love it! It looks beautiful!

  34. cj says:

    So about this coach. Is no one going to ask about the coach?

    • Marti says:

      Yeah, is the coach single? Or… otherwise?
      Does he make housecalls?

      Meantime, OCD years. CDO is more like it. (CDO=OCD with the letters in the correct order. Get with the program!)

      I find myself wondering if you have any evergreens left in your yard or if you swipe all the greenery from your neighbors bushes, making you the pariah at caroling parties?

  35. ronda says:

    the bookcases look amazing! good job. the black “boxes” fill the spaces nicely, and the greenery adds just the right touch of Christmas.

  36. Tina says:

    Meanwhile (as we’re all aware, I just moved here a couple of months ago, I’m old and that’s my excuse for unpacking at a snail’s pace) I have a jet black bookcase with a few empty spots…and I can’t wait to wrap up some “gifts” to fill with! I’m leaning toward yellow…maybe with green bows!

  37. Julie Napier says:

    Now I am going to have to put in bookshelves, so I can have the faux boxes! I love them!

  38. Larraine says:

    Really, Karen — ” Oral Surgery” by Mead??!!!!?

    • Laura says:

      I was wondering the same thing! I think we’re getting a dental related post next year!!

      • Joni says:

        yeah, me too.

        • Jan in Waterdown says:

          Ladies, ladies! Obviously, you have collectively not been keeping up with the rest of us or your “taods” homework. This issue was dealt with a couple of posts or weeks or whatever ago. Karen has dental stuff in her ancestral blood and inherited said tome legitimately. Apparently.

  39. TucsonPatty says:

    Beautiful! Slick trick and clever to boot. Those little vials are just for the 30 minutes of pretty orchid for a corsage for Mother’s Day church goin’. Just sayin’.’ Pretty worthless for anything such as this. My fresh wreath came with instructions to spritz it with water every day, and I can do that. Soak it in the bathtub in water for overnight before putting up to display – I can do that. Soak it weekly in tub to keep it fresh. Not happening. Take it down from the door and shed needles through the house to the tub and clean the needles out of the tub next morning and drip water again all through the house and then re-wire it back to the security screen. Nope. It will just have to get crispy. It will match your sprigs just fine!

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