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Bringing the magic back for Christmas

By Ricky Toledo and Chito Vijandre, The Philippine STAR Published Dec 14, 2022 5:00 am

With a lot of shopping having been done online for the past three years, bringing customers back to brick-and-mortar stores was a challenge that retailers had to grapple with by being more creative in crafting the on-site shopping experience. An exciting selection of merchandise is key, of course, together with related activities and showcasing them in imaginative, enticing windows and displays for the holiday season, which comprises the busiest time of the year.

Window display viewing has always been one of our favorite pastimes, even before we opened a store. In our youth, the C.O.D. department store window with a tableau of animatronic figures was always a holiday activity to look forward to.

In the ’80s, the window of Ronnie’s in Malate, as well as the in-store displays, were always magical and made you feel Christmas with all their nostalgic opulence.

Rustan’s Christmas wonderland

Rustan’s was also a place where you could get lost in a Christmas wonderland of abundantly decked trees and table settings, aside from doing your one-stop shopping since you were so at home with all the friendly, attentive staff who had been with the store for decades. 

This year, their 70th in luxury retail, they continue to curate the world’s best for discerning shoppers and have mastered the art of creating an exceptional shopping experience through their iconic displays and activities to get everyone in the holiday spirit through live Christmas tunes played in-store, meet-and-greets with Santa, and even postcard-writing events with Mont Blanc and a Gaming Library event.

It’s all about getting family and friends together that makes the shopping experience a memorable one for the holidays. 

Louis Vuitton’s Lego Christmas trees at

At Louis Vuitton, the Lego-constructed Christmas tree windows encourage families to join their children in constructive and creative family pursuits. 

AC+632 Imperial Russian Holiday feast at Greenbelt 5

At AC+632 in Greenbelt 5, our Noche Buena dining table transports you to a family gathering in imperial Russia, on the eve of the revolution when a lavish feast was celebrated and everyone was partying like it was their last.

Selfridges’ surreal Yuletide display

Togetherness is also a popular theme in London. At the Selfridges Oxford Street flagship, it’s about the power of food that brings people together. Hashtagged #Seasons Feastings, their 15 surreal window displays are a prelude to the new owner’s vision of building a world-class food hall in the tradition of Harrod’s and Le Bon Marché. There’s a Santa Claus mannequin holding a giant mince pie, a silver car topped by a Christmas tree made of Brussels sprouts, giant potatoes with elf hats, and tables piled high with club sandwiches.

At Harrod’s it’s a glistening façade replicating a giant gingerbread house done in collaboration with Dior, bringing supreme magnificence from the fashion house with pop-ups and cafes for congregating.

Harvey Nichols’ disco party Christmas

Still in Knightsbridge, Harvey Nichols keeps the party going with their maximalist windows inspired by festive celebrations: glittering displays of disco balls and sequins—a nod to the glitz and glamour trends on the fall/winter runways. The metallic palette and mirrored décor reflecting the twinkling lights of the legendary retail district is a mesmerizing crowd-stopper. 

Fortnum & Mason’s Christmas scenes at home

At Fortnum & Mason, family gatherings center around the advent calendar that adorns the façade of the Piccadilly institution and the windows capture Yuletide scenes at home, like choosing ornaments for the Christmas tree and preparing the holiday feast. 

Galeries Lafayette’s Planet Christmas Tree

In Paris, where the most elaborate windows take up to a year to design and create, the big department stores—les grands magasins—attract natives as well as tourists who gather to view enchanting holiday scenes. Printemps takes us to the circus with balloons, trapeze artists, magicians, and clowns. For Galeries Lafayette, it’s a trip to Planète Sapin or Planet Christmas Tree. Reconnecting with literature by inviting the novelist Claire Castillon to come up with an exclusive tale, the displays tell the story of Nordmann, an inhabitant of Elato—the planet of wild tree—sent to earth aboard a magical vessel to save Christmas for a little girl named Annie. Their unexpected encounter takes place in the magnificent Christmas tree under the store’s famous grand cupola.

Window display viewing has always been one of our favorite pastimes, even before we opened a store. In our youth, the C.O.D. department store window with a tableau of animatronic figures was always a holiday activity to look forward to.

Macy’s in New York continues the holiday tale of Tiptoe, the reindeer who was too shy last year until she learned to believe in herself. After last season’s “Believe,” the theme now is “Togetherness” and “Festive Nostalgia” as Tiptoe visits her woodland friends to spread holiday magic and cheer.

Bergdorf Goodman’s “Magic In the Making”

Our favorite windows in New York are usually at Bergdorf and this season, it’s Magic in the Making, showcasing installations utilizing woodcraft, papier-mâché, paper sculpture, mosaic, and other crafts in order to pay tribute to artisans and their techniques, traditions, and handiwork and exploring the notion of “extraordinary thinking” and creativity.

It could very well be a reminder that to bring back magic this Christmas, especially after a very difficult three years, we certainly have to work at it, creating the opportunities to bond with friends, family, and community, and nurturing those relationships for a brighter new year ahead.