Rena Tom Rena Tom

Festive Details

Hello everyone! I’ve heard five different Michael Bublé Christmas songs this week so I think its official: the holiday season is here. This time of year is vital for retail so it can be daunting to figure out exactly how to stand out from the crowd. With all the opulent decor and loud merriment, what will grab attention? Wonderful products and strong marketing is, of course, key. But in a season of short attention spans and loud competition, I think its the festive details that make a retail space go from comfortably jolly to true holiday hot-spot.

Shops have a real opportunity to not only highlight products but become a buzzworthy showcase of festive creativity. Sure, there are a few humbugs out there but overall, this is a beloved time of year. While bargain hunting and discount store madness is undeniable, I firmly believe there is no other time of the year people yearn more for a “retail experience”. There is a reason crowds gather around gorgeous store windows. There is a reason beautiful shop decorations and packaging persist. There is a reason millions of Pinterest boards are popping up devoted to retail displays and holiday details. Keep in mind that this season is inextricably entangled with emotion, tradition and nostalgia. With their five holiday senses happily tickled, your visitors are more likely to become customers. You may also become a buzzworthy local “must-see” and overall, cement a place in people’s memories. And who knows, you could make an appearance on all those Pinterest inspiration boards!

The festive season is merry but it’s also incredibly stressful. The opportunity to be a space where one can knock things off a to-do list AND feel festive joy is no small feat. It’s the details that make this time of year special and the same applies to holiday retail. Whether a massive art installation, special packaging design or small online element, a little creativity is all that is needed to inspire customers. Its those unique details that will make you stand out in a season bursting with screaming distraction. Oh and don’t worry, you definitely don’t need a Saks Fifth Avenue budget to make a smashing holiday display. Let’s ponder some festive (and achievable) creativity for all areas of retail! – Chloé / plenty of colour

One of the easiest ways to make your mark this season is to offer a unique packaging detail. From custom wrapping tape to a trinket clip, this detail makes your customer feel like they are giving a truly special gift. This is also a fantastic way to make gift certificates stand out.

Look books, seasonal catalogues and online stores can benefit from a hefty dose of festiveness. There is nothing wrong with using neutral year-round images but I think it puts people in the holiday mindset to see products styled appropriately. If your product line is huge, consider adding some seasonal details to a few and using those images as the opening page of your website. With holiday-focused styling, you can showcase how products might be used in the season. Kitchen supplies styled with Christmas cookies, winter clothes made festive with some paper trees, the use of tinsel or red/green props — there are no shortage of ways to inject the season into your brand or store imagery.

A beautifully styled landing page will instantly grab the attention of customers. Already this year, I have noticed online retail finding new ways to interact with customers. Animated GIF’s are popular as well as well-styled videos, custom music playlists and fabulously detailed gift guides.

I’ve always felt that the countdown idea of advent calendars could be utilized in a unique way by both online and brick and mortar shops. Perhaps a different items goes on sale, a unique coupon is available, there is special store event or an interactive online element like a video appears. With all of these options and more, I would love to see December countdowns take off.

If you have a brick and mortar storefront, you can’t go wrong with a wreath. I like the detail as a form of open and closed sign too. Try using a medium sold by the store (candy or jewellery for example) or perhaps a brand colour or logo made festive. Window boxes and doormats are another avenue for welcoming customers in the holiday season.

Whether as a window or interior design, you can’t go wrong with garlands. String enough of something together, layer it artfully and the holiday magic just appears. I like the idea of using typography, unique colour combinations, natural elements, edible products, items sold by the store (pasta for example), minimalist designs and handmade components.

A believe in bonkers colour at Christmas but I also love a pure white winter look. Not only does it last all season but it can encompass all festive holidays. A white-focused backdrop also allows colourful products to truly “pop”.

Holiday window displays often showcase a union of art and retail. Window displays are probably the number one difference maker in grabbing attention and making your store the talk of the neighbourhood. A big budget is not needed to make something truly memorable. Try opulent layers of materials, bold backdrops, artful colour mixtures and unique materials (the last image is made entirely of coffee packaging).

Your windows brought people in the door so your interior design should make them want to stay. Christmas cards around a door, a decadent garland installation, a unique shelving idea — there are just so many ideas that come to mind. You can’t go wrong with a handsomely decorated tree but if space is at a premium, try a mural or 2D tree on the wall. Last but not least, try making vignettes that festive details can enhance. A dining table full of products for sale becomes merry when a branch of ornaments is hung overhead and holiday decorations are added to the tablescape.

I could honestly ramble on about holiday window displays and interior merchandising from now until Christmas Day. In short, don’t feel daunted by stores with big budgets or expensive supplies. So much can be done with re-imagined materials, some creativity and a big dash of elbow grease. Go on, string some marshmallows and paint some branches gold! Heck, even plastic milk jugs become a stunning igloo with a bit of frost added.

What would the holiday season be without lights? Their use in a store depends on location and hours open but overall, lights can add so much to a retail space. I love ceiling installations, illuminated window display elements and maybe even a tree of books or two.

image via gary burke

I had to mention the magnificent holiday pop-up shop Kate Spade created in New York. Whimsical and perfectly on brand, I love this retail igloo.

Hopefully, you have many store parties planned (perhaps a friends and family day or a customer evening event). Whatever type of party, you can’t go wrong with chic treats and even a memorable photo backdrop (that magenta tinsel is calling my name). I guarantee your celebration will be remembered (oh and those cookies will end up on Instagram and beyond). A great smelling shop with fabulous music helps too.

As you can probably tell, I am crazy for the holiday season. Yes, it is a stressful time but it is also full of joy and artistic expression. From an online store crafting a vibrant interactive gift guide to a brick and mortar store bursting with layers of garlands, the effort is worth it. Festive details ARE remembered. They allow you to connect with customers, sell products and become a striking example of retail creativity. Come August, someone will still be walking down the street thinking, “that shop had the most magnificent holiday windows”… Until next week, I am off to dream up some seasonal DIY projects… – Chloé / plenty of colour

(P.S. Last year, I wrote a post about holiday colour palettes beyond the usual red and green. It is applicable to this post as well so take a peek here if you are interested)

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  1. Judith says:

    Wow! Lots of awesomeness in here! Thanks for sharing these Chloé!

  2. […] is officially here and since I am holiday bonkers, expect some posts devoted to the topic! In my latest post for Rena Tom, I focused on how festive details can be applied to retail (online or brick and […]

  3. This is a terrific post–so many inspiring ideas here! Thanks!!

  4. Brenda says:

    beautiful images & so many great ideas for storefronts both real & virtual!

  5. Chloe says:

    Thanks so much Judith, Bespoke and Brenda! Thrilled you found some festive inspiration. Hope all of your shop and home displays are coming to life in magical fashion…

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