Designs & Displays: 3 Fresh Ideas for Holiday Displays

Tempting displays are designed to make customers linger at Attitudes Dancewear, Etc.

It’s time to gather up the twinkle lights, garlands and glittering fake snow. The holiday season is quickly approaching, and you’ll want your dancewear displays in tip-top shape to help you capture customers as they make their lists.

Need some fresh ideas this year? From ballet-themed props to displays that incorporate selling messages and incentives, our guide to holiday merchandising will have your store in sparkling shape for the shopping rush. Here are our top three ideas for distinctive seasonal displays.


1. Create a focal point.

Tutus and Dance Shoes

Want to wow your customers instantly? Give them something magnificent to focus on right away, like a large tree. It’s no secret that trees make great retail display props. You likely have one in storage already (bonus points if it’s pink) that’s perfect for hanging Nutcracker ornaments and other small stocking stuffers.

Why not take that idea one step further by creating a tree out of something unique? Kelly Shouse, co-owner of Tutus and Dance Shoes in Augusta, GA, made a tree more than five feet tall out of discontinued pointe shoes that she was unable to sell. The thought of throwing them away was disheartening, so Shouse affixed the shoes to a metal tree frame. (See “How to Build a Pointe Shoe Christmas Tree” on page 16 for step-by-step instructions.)

A focal tree display doesn’t have to be limited to shoes. We’ve seen retailers make Christmas trees out of everything—from green wooden boxes to fuzzy mittens. The more unusual the design, the more buzz it will create, with customers enticed to visit the store just to see it—and to linger once they’re there.

Shouse was shocked by how positive the reaction was to her pointe-shoe tree display. Customers asked to have their picture taken in front of it, creating a social-media buzz for the store during a season when every store is competing to drive traffic through the front door. Plus, says Shouse, it’s a great way to show off these special shoes. “We don’t keep a lot of pointe shoes on display, and I think it allows little girls to see what they look like up close,” she says. “It gets them excited about what’s to come”—and strengthens the emotional connection to the store that carries them.

The key to pulling off a successful focal display is location. Center a tall tree just beyond the decompression zone so that it’s the first thing customers see when they walk in. If you have a smaller tree, set it on a table to get more height. Add a sign with your store’s social-media handles and a seasonal hashtag to encourage customers to post their Christmas-tree selfies for that extra holiday promotion.

A small bookshelf perched on a vintage table helps show off holiday gifts at Attitudes Dancewear, Etc.

2. Introduce a seasonal theme that reinforces your brand.

Attitudes Dancewear, Etc.

While the classic Nutcracker certainly deserves a place in your store, come December you may be ready for a fresh take on the season. Why not go with what you know and create a theme that plays off your store’s branding? Beth Misek, owner of Attitudes Dancewear, Etc., in Wichita, KS, came up with an idea last year that perfectly fit the vintage and eclectic nature of her shop: Her theme was Have a Hippie Holiday. “The theme was a mix of vintage gypsy and granny chic,” she says. “We tackled the store section by section, putting together displays that coordinated with the color of the products. One table, for instance, featured all-pink leotards, decor and gifts. There was so much to look at—you had to pause to take it all in.”

Misek added lots of twinkle lights; colored trees in silver, pink and teal; and glittering gifts like snow globes and Nutcrackers. Tree-shaped wire stands held ballet ornaments, and larger gifts were displayed under a tree decorated with poinsettia flowers and ribbon garlands. Misek also strung tutu and pointe shoe twinkle lights (which customers could also buy) over a few of the displays.

To create an eclectic feel, Misek stacked different pieces of furniture on top of each other. For instance, she placed a small bookshelf on top of a vintage table to better show off holiday gift ideas, and dresser drawers were propped open to hold decorations like wreaths and Nutcrackers. “Although random in appearance, each piece was carefully and purposefully placed,” Misek says. “The end result was reminiscent of an antique shop.”

You can easily create a holiday theme that builds on your store’s branding by incorporating your signature colors into decorations—garlands and tree can be purchased in every color of the rainbow. If your store has a more modern aesthetic, triangle-shaped cutouts can be affixed directly to your front window or hung on a feature wall inside your store to create a sleek tree design that will be right in line with your style.

3. Make displays that encourage shopping.

Prescott’s Dancewear and The Dance Bag

Prescott’s Dancewear in Lake Jackson, TX, creates displays that explicitly encourage people to shop. A popular Elf on the Shelf named Leo appears in the store a little after Thanksgiving to announce the upcoming 12 Days of Christmas sale. Owner Kristen Barton creates a different promotion for each day, and customers don’t know what the sale will be until Leo announces it that morning.

The Elf on the Shelf is familiar to many of Barton’s customers, adding to the sense of expectation and excitement around the store. It’s an inexpensive way to infuse the store with holiday spirit and can be used year after year in different ways. For instance, one year Barton used her Elf for a Five Golden Tickets promotion. “If customers came in and found Leo during the 12 Days of Christmas Sale, they could draw one of the golden tickets out of the bowl,” says Barton. Tickets were for various promotions, such as $20 off a $100 purchase or 5 percent off a purchase.

Holly Bertucci, owner of The Dance Bag in Modesto, CA, has another easy merchandising tool to get customers shopping during the holiday season—custom-printed tote bags. She promotes her Holiday Open House with shopping totes that feature the store’s logo and the name of the event.

Throughout the year Bertucci uses a large table in the front of the store to showcase new arrivals. “That front table, during Christmas, gets pushed back and our eight-foot tree gets set in front of it,” she says. The table and the tree are set up with gifts, such as ornaments and Vera Bradley accessories. “I use photos of the bag to help promote the event on social media,” she says.

Printing your own shopping totes is inexpensive if you order a limited amount for a one-time event, as Bertucci does for her Holiday Open House. And when customers leave your store carrying the bag, your holiday message goes out into the world to bring even more customers your way.


The pointe-shoe tree at Tutus and Dance Shoes was a bigger hit than even the storeowners expected. Customers loved taking their photos with it, creating a social-media buzz.

How to Build a Pointe Shoe Christmas Tree

Kelly Shouse of Tutus and Dance Shoes walked us through the steps for building a beautiful pointe shoe tree. Note that, depending on the size of your display, the finished product may be hard to move. Shouse built her tree in the spot she wanted to display it, because her tree was too big to fit through the door of her store.


large metal Christmas-tree frame
(Shouse found the one she used in the holiday light section at Lowe’s.)

pointe shoes

hot glue

sturdy string


Step 1

Prepare your shoes to be hung by gluing a piece of string to the back sole of each one. Since your shoes may be all different sizes, Shouse recommends making sure that all of the toes line up so the display looks even.


Step 2

Carefully tie each shoe around the wire rungs of the tree. Start from the bottom and work your way up to increase the display’s stability.


Step 3

Top your tree with a shiny star and enjoy! —L.B.


Photos courtesy of the retailers

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