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Seasonal Display Ideas That Pop

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seasonal Display Ideas That Pop(GIFTBEAT)Are you ready for the homestretch of 2010? Chris Tkachuck, director of visual display for Midwest-CBK, offers a bounty of merchandising, display and window ideas that will help your entire store look fresh through the fall and winter holidays. She also shares tips on how to incorporate unique props and seasonal foliage from your current stock to help round out your holiday displays.

Q. How important is merchandising in a retailer's overall plan for fourth quarter?

A. I believe effective merchandising is essential in the fourth quarter because it’s a really full time of year for gift giving and also the largest volume-driving quarter. Retailers always want to look fresh, new and updated throughout this whole season.

Q. How often do you think retailers should change or freshen displays from October through December?

A. Major retailers change out the windows and doors every two weeks and do a large design shift every quarter. In-store displays should rotate constantly to keep things fresh, along with the daily maintenance required as you sell through an item. Retailers need to move an item to change its look if it is not selling. Shifting the location of a product can make it feel and seem different to shoppers.

Q. It's October and that means harvest and Halloween themes. For those retailers still working on these themes, could you offer a few last-minute, easy ideas?

A. Fall and harvest themes may be the bridge to Christmas, but don’t forget to give Halloween a lot of attention and have fun with it. Go with traditional spooky images. Black, white, oranges and metallics are the basic colors to use while adding in bold purple, green and yellow. We’ve done displays of large-scale skeletons in open coffins hanging from the ceiling and a spooky lounge piano with a cocktail party theme. The kookier the better — the opportunity is there to go out on a limb, let the store be fun and participate as much as you can.

Softer colors can be transitioned in to make the pumpkins work for harvest. Make sure you entice shoppers at the entrance with something wonderful — a large door swag, wreath or bountiful autumn arrangement can create the excitement and is easy to do at the last minute. You should also follow through and have your window tell the same story.

Once the customer is in the store, a center display works to draw him or her in. Use large furniture like a hutch and dining room table with lighting, including several chandeliers that are wonderfully embellished with florals and gourds that reflect the season. Candles are a great way to tell a color story and a fragrance story. Halloween candlescapes can be done in black, butterscotch and berry tapers. For a hint of harvest color, include limoncello (pale lemon yellow), moss green and amber tapers. Pumpkin pie is a great harvest scent to have throughout the fall.

Q. One of the big categories this quarter will be ornaments. Other than Christmas trees, how can retailers with limited space display ornaments creatively?

A. Some ideas include using metal trees with ornament hooks and displaying antique fencing as a setting to hang ornaments. You can also take antique frames, remove the glass and insert screening or mesh to show off a small collection of ornaments.

Containers of all kinds are a great way to display ornaments on tables — in baskets, crates and glass bowls. For a taller display you can also hang them by ribbons from a decorative rod. For a canopy effect, hang the ornaments en masse from ceiling grids. Show them in use on windows, in chandelier bowls, accenting floral arrangements and on packages. There are many places they can add interest. We offer a free “Display Ideas” CD for retailers that is chock-full of holiday ideas and photos from our showrooms. To request the CD, e-mail or call (800) 394-4225.

Q. Could you share some ideas for Christmas-themed display that will make customers say "wow" this holiday?

A. Using two to three large, free-form metal trees as part of your traditional tree display can add drama. Remove the bases and insert the metal trees into a large traditional Christmas tree so the free-form trees become armatures to showcase large glass ornaments. It gives the tree a boost, highlights the ornaments and provides the “wow” factor. We've had many customers asking how they could replicate this idea in their stores.

Another dramatic idea is bringing in a small bathtub or sink to fill with water, then float hollow glass ornaments in it. It’s a fun way to surprise customers, and is also something they can easily recreate at home during a holiday party.

Q. What are some of the most unusual props you've seen used as part of seasonal displays? Where should retailers look for props?

A. I’ve seen antique mail bins used to showcase ornaments and small seasonal gifts, and a group of old upright pianos painted and sprayed with glitter to showcase a snowman collection. We look for these types of props at antique shops, auctions and estate sales, and then we work with local vendors to design custom pieces for us.

This time of year there are so many wonderful gourds, pumpkins, bittersweet and fresh mums that can be used with larger pieces for both Halloween and harvest decor. You can also use antique racks, baskets, metal containers and wooden crates as elements to help tell the story. They work for risers and to give your displays height and interest. Other ideas include incorporating antique carts, wagons or wheelbarrows filled with product as selling vehicles.

Q. How can retailers take everyday merchandise and give it a Christmas feel?

A. Adding ambience and the wonder of the holidays is the way to make everyday merchandise part of your displays. Whether it's adding the right colors, ornaments, floral stems, ribbons or wrapped packages, it’s what you create around the items that generates the ambience. These elements are great basics.

If you’re working with a tablescape, add a red charger plate with decorative embellishments and it starts to take on the appearance of holiday. A basket can be filled with everyday glass, but it becomes holiday when you place it in a bed of seasonal greens. Take your chandeliers and make sure they are dripping with greens and ornaments. Use the same seasonal elements for hanging in windows and doors. Remember all the small touches like adding garlands and wreathes to mantles, hutches, and doors and over tables.

Q. Can you give an idea or two for creative holiday window displays?

A. One really successful Christmas tabletop we did connected to a window. It started as a basic antique tabletop setting accented with Wendy Addison ornaments as our featured product line. We draped a large garland from the window to the corner of the room and then to the center table and filled the garland with ornaments, stars and ribbon so it hung over the table in place of lights. The table was filled with angels, candleholders and fresh paperwhites and amaryllis. Ornaments were used throughout the tablescape, as well being used as placecard holders and hung on all the chairs.

The tree we chose to display was silver tinsel in which we layered a black garland to tell a silver, white and black holiday celebration story. This dramatic color adds interest to the trees and makes them another vehicle to highlight product such as the large glittered black and white top hats.

For a quick and simple idea, use ornaments as suncatchers. Attach glass ornaments from curtain rod, or just the ceiling, using clear fishing wire and let the light come through them.

Q. What are some colors and themes that retailers should consider highlighting this holiday season?

A. Red and green are very traditional colors. They are always strong seasonal contenders that work with classic, traditional and whimsical collections. Add silver, gold and patina combinations for the more vintage looks and incorporate a fashion-inspired color palette to be more contemporary. Whatever props and styled elements you use in your presentations will make your story-telling go down either a vintage or contemporary path. I wouldn’t use antiques for a contemporary-themed display; I would keep it very simple and crisp.

Q. Any other holiday display tips you'd like to offer our readers?

A. Keeping the decor cohesive from the outside of the store all the way to the inside is important. If you look at the entrance or a window display, you should get a glimpse of what is going on inside. I like to have a chalkboard outside listing the events that are going on in the store. What you communicate outside is just as important as the interior.

Note: Midwest-CBK produces Colonial Candle home fragrance candle products and the Midwest-CBK brand of holiday, decor and gifts. For more information on Midwest-CBK and the merchandising resources offered, visit, or call ( 800) 394-4225. Midwest-CBK is hosting a “Design Style Sparkle” in-store retail holiday display contest. Starting October 4, independent retailers can submit up to two photos of their holiday displays, a 150-word description and information on how the displays increased traffic, sales and any customer feedback. The deadline for entry is December 13 and winners will be announced in January. For more details, visit or e-mail

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