Tips For Decorating Christmas Shelves For The Holidays

Changing up our shelves is one of the quickest and easiest ways that we welcome each of the seasons. It’s not that we have new home decor for each season (our small homes have absolutely NO room to store this seasonal decor) but we do add a few touches or at least rearrange the shelves whenever we can.

Just a simple rearrangement makes them feel new to us, even if nothing on them is actually new to our home. 


Typically we will “shop our homes” and add existing items from other rooms to these shelves and you’d be surprised how different they start to feel, even without spending any money.

Here are our budget-friendly tips to create gorgeous Christmas shelves this holiday season. Hopefully, some of these simple tips will inspire you to refresh your home without spending a ton of money! Plus, these tips could be used on your fireplace mantle or console…not just your bookshelves.

Casey’s Easy Tipsbuilt-ins-christmas-tv

Instead of completely removing absolutely everything on our built-ins in our living room, I decided to remove a couple of items and then inject a few festive touches into all of the shelves. 

Wrap Some “Presents”


The cheapest and easiest way to do that?! Wrapped presents! I used some of “gifts” (actually just cardboard boxes…) and placed them on our shelves to inject some holiday color! 


This is such a great idea if you plan to change your color scheme each year since it’s super budget-friendly! It makes for the ultimate Christmas shelf decor.


Don’t Forget Greenery


I also added some faux greenery amongst my shelves. I always love to have some green plants (even if they’re fake) on our built-ins, and swapping out some of those plants for evergreen (these little cute pots are from Michaels) is the perfect way to add a bit of holiday. You can even inject some fresh greenery on your Christmas shelves too.

A few new accessories (like this adorable Santa!) filled out the rest of our shelves and really added some holiday spirit this Christmas season.

Bridget’s Tips


And just like Casey, my go-to holiday decor for the built-ins was a few “fake” wrapped gifts. I upcycled a few Amazon boxes that were delivered earlier in the season and even wrapped a few books that were previously on the built-ins.

That way each gift was a different size and depth, which made it feel a bit less cookie-cutter. This budget-friendly option makes for some festive pops of color throughout.


Plus, wrapping the gifts helped me keep the general color scheme and neutral feel without spending money on new items. Since I’m still honing my “Christmas style”, I don’t want to buy a lot of new decor just to realize I don’t love it next season.

Keep It Simple


I’ve also found that putting less stuff on my built-ins is better for me. Take this shelf for example, all that’s on it is ONE gift. No books, no other accessories, just one gift. It’s a great way to keep things nice and simple around here.


A few years ago, I would have never kept a shelf this simple, but now that I’ve lived with these shelves for four years, I’ve found that they start to feel too cluttered when I overdo them.

Don’t Remove Your Everyday Decor


I also try to use as much of my regular farmhouse decor as I can throughout the holidays. I take out the items that are obviously more springy or summery, but I’m not afraid to mix Christmas decorations in with anything that is neutral. Then, those Christmas accents really pop!


As long as I love these pieces and they’re neutrals, I think they can still work for the holidays… especially if you put them in a new spot on the built-ins and pair them with a simple ornament or tiny holiday accessory. Magically this new spot makes the whole look feel new!  

Baskets Always Work


Both of us also try to incorporate baskets into our decor. We LOVE them because they offer secret storage, can add texture to the look, and can cut down on feeling like your shelves look cluttered. To make these baskets feel a bit more holiday, we simply keep everything that’s already in them there. Then, add a bit of greenery, leftover ribbon, or beaded garland on top. You could even drape some twinkle lights or tinsel to add even more holiday cheer.

I also love the idea of adding bowls with ornaments or pinecones to any open shelves to fill them up.

Mix It Up

And last but certainly not least, it’s important that we have fun and mix it up! Unlike Casey, I actually take everything OFF of my built-ins when the new season comes around and try to reorganize the items.

You would be surprised how much more I start to love an old item when I pair it with something that complements it more. All of a sudden that old item that was always just “okay-ish” is now the shelf’s MVP.

Key Takeaways to Decorate Your Christmas Shelves

My best tips to create stylish Christmas shelves
  • Use presents
  • Add greenery
  • Buy a few items you L-O-V-E
  • Keep your favorite neutral items up
  • Add holiday embellishments to baskets
  • Have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment!

Merry Christmas to you, friends, and happy decorating!

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The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.