‘Tis the Season

by Katie Lee

As retailers and shopping malls prepare for the holiday shopping season, here are some factors to consider when planning your seasonal displays.

By Chris Karl

As retailers across the country prepare for a busy holiday shopping season in the run-up to Black Friday, the topic of seasonal décor is likely on the minds of decision-makers across the retail landscape. Retailers looking to create the total shopping experience this season with visions of colorful wreaths and brightly lit trees should weigh these practical considerations when choosing holiday décor themes.

Live vs. Artificial Plants

There are benefits for both options when choosing whether to feature live or artificial plants throughout your design. Nothing beats the atmosphere that live plants add to a seasonal display; the smell of a live tree and other festive plants such as poinsettias, orchids, ferns and ivies can remind consumers of happy holiday memories and can put them in the mood for shopping. Even with live plants, maintenance time is generally a minor consideration requiring about 5 minutes per display each week, often totaling 20 to 30 minutes for an average size store. If you bring in a professional designer, maintenance is typically included in the contract, meaning there’s less for the store’s staff to worry about during the busy season. Going the artificial route means a little less time on maintenance and, of course, artificial plants can be stored and reused next holiday season. To draw on your senses, a professional designer can also install holiday scents such as pine, cinnamon mulled cider — evoking the spirit of the season.

General Growth Properties Baybrook Mall photo 7Turnaround Time

Planning out holiday displays, gathering materials and putting it all together can be a time-consuming process, but a professional designer can simplify the process and give you peace of mind. A designer specializing in holiday décor can meet with management to create a theme that fits with the store’s overall aesthetic and captures the attention of its target consumer. A professional team can typically complete most of the assembly offsite and install everything while the store is closed overnight, like Santa and his elves, so it’s ready when shoppers arrive on Black Friday. At the end of the holiday season, take down is even faster, requiring a fraction of the time to disassemble displays and move them offsite.

Another consideration is how early in the season a retailer wants to set up its decorations. Traditionally, Black Friday has been the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, but some are breaking out the festive décor in early November — or even sooner — in an attempt to move the holiday timeline ahead and extend the shopping season by a few weeks.


Each store has unique needs that present opportunities in terms of prime locations for holiday displays. There are a few key factors that can help make those choices a little easier. Identifying areas where you want to draw your customer and paths you want them to take will help determine focal points. Colorful lights can be one of the most festive parts of any holiday display, but it’s important to consider the location of electrical outlets if lights are a part of the plan. A professional designer can create a tidy display with well-organized power cords that stay out of sight. Still, though, it’s important to keep the display close to a power source to avoid using long and highly visible extension cords.

It’s also important to choose locations that don’t obstruct the view of logos, signage and the products themselves. This is another area where a professional designer that specializes in holiday displays can lend its expertise and save time by finding the optimal location for holiday displays.


PICTURED: Holiday display at General Growth Properties’ Baybrook Mall in Friendswood, Texas.


— Chris Karl is a design specialist for Ambius, which creates custom floral displays, interior landscaping design and commercial holiday décor. He recently won two awards for his work on holiday displays in Southern California at the 2018 International Plantscaping Awards.


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