Expert tips for a Christmas shopfront display on a budget

Tips from Sally Dailey, Artist & Interior Designer

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

According to research, the average small business owner spends just a few hundred pounds decorating their shopfront window for the Christmas season. That might seem like a small budget, but there’s a lot you can do on a modest budget.

We spoke to artist and interior designer Sally Dailey, who provided tips on how to make the most out of your shopfront display. She also shared examples of window decoration themes and the materials you’ll need to get started on your shopfront window display.

No matter what you’re designing, excellence begins with proper planning!

First, you’ll want to determine your message. In doing so, make sure to ask yourself a few questions—What do you want to say? How do you want your display to look? That’s what I did before coming up with the examples below.

Next, start to imagine your shop window as a stage. This is where your story comes to life. There’s a backdrop, a floor, a ceiling, lighting, set décor, supporting cast members and the stars of the show. Keep it simple, yet bold. Remember: less is more. Your display must be graphic, clean, legible and easy to understand.

Once you have your message and can start to envision some great ways to transform your window, it’s time to start thinking about the display’s design.

Think eclectic

This simply means mixing styles of contrasting colours, using both large and small shapes and using different fonts to attract attention. This will make people want to look again because it´s unusual. In fact, a slight clash of shapes, styles or colours creates tremendous intrigue and energy, and that’s a very good thing! Lastly, by adding an element of surprise, you hook your audience. My example in “The Perfect Package” is the surprise of the elf carrying the packages instead of a person.

Choose your colours

Before you start working on your display, lock down the colour palette you want to use. You can use any materials, whether that’s paper or paint samples, to get an idea of how each colour will look in your window.

Now that the scene is set, it’s time to start creating. Here are some tips to make your shopfront display really pop.

Give it dimension
There are some simple ways to give your display a 3D effect, no special glasses necessary!

  • Stagger image boards, items, etc. so that some are in the foreground and some in the background.
  • On printed material, add a heavy shadow line. Words will look thick and dimensional.
  • Place darker items in background and brighter/lighter objects up front.
  • Illuminate from the front with a small spotlight. This adds drama.

Let it shine
Use mirrors, glass and glittery metal along with a small spotlight to give your display some sparkle.

Make it fun and festive
This is for Christmas, after all!

With the above tips in mind, I’ve provided four examples of themes for shopfront displays and the materials you’ll need to bring them to life.

1. Christmas Looks Bright

About the look
The colour palette is sophisticated: soft citron green, with pops of red in the words “merry” and "bright”. The glittered accents on the coasters add sparkle to draw people in. Our element of surprise is that the two wreaths are actually forming sunglasses! Statement to the otherwise simple, smaller scaled words.

What you’ll need

  • 24 Printed paper coasters: 9 printed bright red, 8 printed glittered gold, 7 printed glittered silver
  • Gold or Silver string and clear tape (used to create the garlands with coasters)
  • A floor stand-up or two floor stand-ups for a larger window and larger graphic image
  • 180cm of battery-powered LED fairy lights
  • 60cm to 70cm diameter green and holly wreaths and small garland of same for nose bridge

2. Reindeer Games

About the look
A classic window that creates eclectic flair by mixing traditional elements of holly garlands, tartan ribbon and charcoal backboard with fun handwritten fonts stating the Reindeer’s names. The applied glitter on the Antler’s adds a sparkle of panache! Add fairy lights and make sure to backlight and away you go!

What you’ll need

  • A floor stand-up or 1 to 2 boards depending on size of window
  • 180cm of holly garlands
    • 6.5m of tartan ribbon for border
    • Bronze decorative tacks to tack ribbon onto board
    • Chalkboard black paint for the background
  • 1.2m x 2.4m plywood or hardboard (3mm thick and white board on backside)
    • Paint on the smooth side

3. Peace on Earth

About the look
This window is for the Earth lovers! The peace sign can be printed onto the board or be applied on top. Either way, the areas of glitter give a contemporary glamour to an understated, yet powerful message! Fairy lights and a front spotlight will make this shine brightly - clean and strong with non-traditional colours.

What you’ll need

  • A floor stand-up or 1 to 2 boards depending on size of window
  • Silver glitter and PVA glue to accent PEACE and peace sign on printed board
  • 30 printed paper coasters
  • Silver string and tape to create the garlands
  • 2 to 3 rolls of ribbon for the garlands

4. The Perfect Package

About the look
This display is pure fun and whimsy! The printed packages need to be clean, bright colours to visually pop off the board. The huge glittered ribbon ties the whole concept together. Our element of surprise is that all you see is the elf’s hat, hands and feet. A sprinkle of faux glitter snow at the base sets a scene that will intrigue young and old alike!

What you’ll need

  • A floor stand-up
    • Poster board to cut elf shoes
  • Coasters
  • Silver string and tape to create hanging ho-ho-hos
    • Sliver glitter to accent large ribbon on packages
    • PVA glue
    • Ribbon

About the Author

Sally Dailey is a seasoned Artist & Interior Designer that has been in the industry for more than 30 years. She established a firm base with her initial company, Mississippi Household Goods in the US, offering hand-painted home accessories sold in boutiques and high street shops. This lead to Sally’s artwork licensed on manufactured products worldwide, all the while, maintaining her client base for residential and commercial interiors. Sally’s unique style and artistic approach allows each project to be a complete standout and reflects the style of her clients.

Sally is based in the Midwest of the USA and has had the privilege of working with individuals across the globe and her artwork has even been collected by well-known celebrities.

Related articles

Christmas marketing tips

Get your business prepared for the Christmas rush with our 3-month marketing checklist, campaign ideas & business tips. Check how other small businesses handle their marketing operations around Christmas.
Read more

Marketing Checklist for Christmas

Get ready for the upcoming festive season with Vistaprint's marketing guide; all key promotion activities are listed in a countdown calendar.
Read more