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.

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Bookcase Decorating for Christmas.


  1. Karin in NC says:

    Looks fabulous!

  2. Linda in Illinois says:

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

  3. Ev Wilcox says:

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

  4. maggie van sickle says:

    love it.

  5. Marilyn says:

    Great job Karen, looks fantastic

  6. 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!

  7. Cred says:

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

  8. 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.

  9. Rose says:

    … it, and yes about the coach?

  10. 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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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…

  16. Stephbo says:

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

  17. Edith says:

    What a great idea! Love the black!

  18. Auntiepatch says:

    Love it! It looks beautiful!

  19. 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?

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. Julie Napier says:

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

  23. 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.

  24. 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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