Christmas retail window display ideas

Written by deborah stephenson
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Christmas retail window display ideas
Selfridges unveil their window display (Getty Thinkstock)

The secret to a great window display lies not so much in the theme as in those elements that captivate the senses of passers and make them stop. Music and movement are traditional attention-getters, but aroma is an often overlooked resource you will want to explore as well. Sound, smells and kinetic visuals will get attention where a pretty, but static and ordinary display may go unnoticed.

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Traditional Christmas Display

There is nothing quite so traditional as the idea of Santa's workshop, busy with toymaking elves. Block the back of the display from interior view using tall floor to ceiling bookshelves. Put toys on shelves (especially wooden toys, dolls and stuffed animals with an old-fashioned look), and position simple wooden tables around the foreground. Dress child mannequins as elves (put pointy ears on them, and use a lot of red and green clothing). Give your elves mallets, saws, paint or glue and some unfinished toys to work on. Spread wood shavings on the floor, and add a bit of decorative disorder to convey a sense of industry. Put a Christmas tree or greenery in the display and pipe pine scents to the outside to catch the attention of shoppers. If possible, mechanise mannequins a -- incorporating simple robotic motions of mannequin arms (up and down holding a hammer, in and out motion for sawing) will grab eyes and make people linger.

Modern White Christmas Display

Gather small well-branched saplings, six to eight feet tall, to dry early in the year. Attach them to plywood squares so they stand upright and spray paint them pure white. Arrange them in the window and pile heaps of fake snow all around to conceal the bases. Decorate with silver or gold ornaments, or small mirror globes and white twinkle lights. For a surprise element and eye-catching movement, set up a large gauge train to wind in and out around the trees, each car carrying a modern electronic device, toy or sample of whatever is old in your store. Paint the train silver and sprinkle with glitter for added sparkle. Play modern Christmas music over your sound system.

Victorian Christmas Display

Create a Victorian Christmas “postcard” using a giant-sized gilt “frame” in the foreground against, and completely filling, the window frame (make from plywood embellished to look like a real frame). Block the back of the display area from inside so as not to distract viewers with modern elements within the store. Hire a local artist to paint a three-sided mural depicting a comfortable Victorian interior as the background for a family of period dressed mannequins happily decorating their Christmas tree. An antique settee, Persian rug, table and lamp complete the scene. Play Christmas choir music from that era (as if there were carolers outside the window), and use essential oils in an aromatherapy device--incorporating spices, apples or pumpkin pie scents to lend an impression of baking smells emanating from an unseen kitchen. (Make sure both sound and aromas can be detected outside the window.)

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