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Holiday bookshelf
Photo: Ashley Smith Photography

5 Clever Tips for Decorating a Shelf for the Holidays

Deck out your house—shelves included!

As a working mother, the thing I value about Christmas is how it forces me to be present. I stop. (First Christmas miracle there.) But then, I actually wait…with baited breath and raised shoulders, to see the twinkle in my twins’ eyes as they experience a little holiday magic. Here’s a simple way to evoke that familiar twinkle in your kids’ eyes, and hopefully yours as well: transform a shelf into a holiday delight.

Tip 1: Stick to the rules of composition.

A good tip is to arrange items in odd numbers. Use two larger items, and one smaller “connector” item to make your grouping look deliberate. Leave space between clusters for the eye to rest. Vary heights. Mix vertical and horizontal. Layer, layer, layer. Place a neutral frame in the back of an arrangement to help items pop and make your composition look more intimate.

Tip 2: Search your everyday collection.

Don’t limit yourself to items labeled “holiday.” Search your dishes, decor, even the children’s toy box for items that create a holiday feel. I wrap ordinary books in neutral colors to give height and dimension. I add ornaments to my favorite statement pieces. Even a beautifully wrapped present can elevate holiday shelves.

holiday shelf ideas
Photo: Ashley Smith Photography

Tip 3: Follow one color scheme.

Pick a couple colors that work well together and stick to ’em. I chose emerald, gold, and white. This immediately helps your shelf flow and your bold color pop.

Tip 4: The triangle method.

Avoid placing similarly shaped arrangements above or beside each other, instead create a triangle pattern. For example, in my shelf, many of my “compositions of threes” can be found diagonal to one another. This is an easy way to provide immediate balance and visual interest to your shelf.

Tip 5: Hide some surprises for the kids.

(There’s that elf!) Another favorite tradition of ours? Wrap Christmas books from the library for the kids to open each December night leading to the big day.

Aristea Brady was formerly an evening news anchor weeknights on Fox31 News. To find more of Aristea’s tips on her hobby of all things holiday and home, follow her Instagram @aristea.brady.

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