Fall 2015
Tips for Dazzling Holiday Displays!

Learn the subtle art of adding a Christmas twinkle to your seasonal displays.

With the gift-giving season rapidly approaching, it’s time to dress up your retail business for the holidays. Holiday décor is best utilized when it feels tied into the overall shopping experience. It not only needs to complement and harmonize with the architectural elements of the space, but must also consider the brand, product line and the customer’s ability to interact and shop. Remember, we are selling merchandise, not holiday décor—unless, of course, holiday décor is your product line.

Here are a few time-tested ways to incorporate the holidays into your visual merchandising mix.

RMUs and kiosks

Limited space associated with carts and kiosks require a more strategic plan when developing your décor options. The product’s packaging, design, color and texture should be considered to help create a more cohesive and strong visual statement. For instance, if your packaging is blue and silver, look to carry these colors into your holiday décor to complement your product.

If you have multiple products of different shapes, sizes and colors, look to use elements that will not add to the chaos, but help departmentalize, or zone, your product. Select plain pine garlands, picks and sprays that provide great contrast and holiday texture without taking away the focus from your product.

Graphics can also transform your RMU into a holiday merchandising platform. Consider creating corner panels and headers to clad your existing RMU for the season.


Lighting is another staple of the holidays and you can find creative ways to introduce holiday-specific lighting into your displays. With the industry’s transformation from incandescent to LED, lighting has become more energy efficient and cost effective too. Place strands of lights in a clear vase or clear box and use that element as a riser or column to
support additional shelving.

Using one color of lights can command great attention as well as complement or highlight a brand or product assortment.

Conversely, multicolored lights can be used for a more playful or traditional holiday setting. Use large colorful lights to evoke a more nostalgic setting.

In-line store and window displays

Pick a common theme to use in the store but commit to strong focal points rather than spreading the décor equally throughout your location. Concentrate on windows and the entryway statement and then put your attention on smaller elements to be used to complement merchandise on floor fixtures and wall units.

Holiday foliage

IMG_0262Simple holiday accent picks and sprays can add a soft and elegant feel to your design. Create a statement with volume/mass of one particular texture or color—such as all-red poinsettias or only pine sprays—which helps provide great uniformity as well as highlighting the product.

Create dynamic wreaths from non-traditional items, such as rolled and tied T-shirts on a wire wreath frame. To combine the holiday with your product line, stuff a Christmas tree with all of one style of merchandise—such as plush toys. Or, intertwine birch branches to create floating clouds overhead to hang décor elements from.

And, of course, nothing screams the holidays more than a sea of red poinsettias. Use them to trail you through or to a particular location within your store.


A holiday scent such as pine or vanilla immediately places you in the holiday zone. Scents trigger our memory and can be a powerful selling tool when combined with a great display strategy.

Storytelling with window displays

Simple themes and stories make for a great visual presentation. Think about the 12 days of Christmas. Make a large calendar by stacking cubes. Date each with a door panel of any sort (cardboard, graphics, etc.) and open the door on the corresponding date to highlight the daily special or event.

Try a Sustainable Holiday display by utilizing recycled materials such as wood, plastic or paper. And don’t discount oversize décor. It makes a big statement and provides for festive photo-ops and the “wow” factor. Look for holiday items being sold on Craigslist or theatrical studios and repurpose them to fit your design. Often malls will look to upgrade and redesign their holiday displays every five to seven years and may be a source to acquire these elements.

When it comes to designing your holiday displays, think creatively and have fun! The season should be as jolly for you
as it is for your happy customers.

Brett Beaudette

Brett Beaudette serves as Lead Retail Designer and Design Manager for Mall of America, in addition to owning his own design consulting business, Ideal Productions & Design. Beaudette specializes in creating unique and successful inline, kiosk and RMU designs and merchandising strategies. He has been featured on HGTV and Travel Channel specials for his mall holiday décor and store design sets, and can be reached at brett@idealpd.net.
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