Summer 2014
Deck the Halls By Sue Marquette Poremba

When it comes to the holidays, some traditions are timeless. Yet it might be time for some new ones as well. What can you expect this season?

The owners of The Cutest Little Shoppe in Nashville, TN, are preparing their two stores for the holiday shopping season.

“This holiday season we are focusing on items that are either already personalized (initials or single letters) or items that can be personalized,” says Brandi Carmichael, one of the three sisters who own the gift shops. “A ceramic ornament with a cheerleader is simply an ornament…until you add a name. Suddenly, the cheerleader ornament is extra special.”

Personalized items are just one of the hottest holiday décor trends for the upcoming season. Including personalization, here are some of the top trends to be found on store shelves this holiday.

Personalization

Alpine-TreesDesignIdeas-copy“The personalization trend is covering many layers this holiday season,” explains Lynn Switanowski, founding partner of Creative Business Consulting Group. The items customers are looking for include specific places to live, initial jewelry – anything that connects the customer with the item. “Customers want items that will have meaning the week and the month after the holiday,” Switanowski adds.

Popular personalized holiday items include Christmas stockings, tree skirts, and table runners. “We can embroider in-house or sell products to the retailers who do the personalization,” says Sondra Carlton, director of public relations with the Georgetown, TX-based Glory Haus, Inc. Carlton adds that consumers are also gravitating toward personalized ceramic and glass ornaments.

While an item with initials or a name adds a sense of ownership, sometimes homeowners like to have items they can personalize for the moment, rather than for the person. That’s why Elaine Deelstra, marketing manager with Sullivans from Sioux Falls, SD, thinks items that can be written on like a chalk board will be a hot seller this holiday season. While these can cover anything that is typically popular in holiday décor, Deelstra sees two particular ways these purchases will stand out at home. First are holiday decorations that allow parents and children to keep track of the number of days left until Christmas. Secondly, entertainment pieces with the chalkboard, like coasters, are perfect for place settings or adding a special touch to a hostess gift. “The bottom line,” Deelstra says, “is that people like things that have that personal touch.”

They also like decorative pieces that tell their story, according to Mary Sheehan, marketing coordinator, with Springfield, IL-based Design Ideas. “Users want the freedom to create a unique scene or story to make it their own. It’s the ability to mix and match different decorations to personalize the scene that is a key selling feature for shop owners and customers,” she says.

Functionality

AmbiEscents“As the continued tough economic times showcase themselves during the holidays, people are looking for more practical gifts,” says Switanowski.

Alissa Benjamin, vice president product development and sourcing with Midwest-CBK’s new G! division, agrees, adding that she believes customers are focused on purchasing holiday décor pieces with a purpose. “They are looking for smaller pieces with a function, rather than ‘big commitment’ pieces that may look beautiful, but are stored away as soon as Christmas is over.”

Last year was G!’s first holiday season, and Benjamin says that the company’s best-selling piece was a 16-ounce mug with two kitchen towels tucked inside. That’s why, for this season, Benjamin says the company is looking at new approaches to mixed media. Holiday-themed glassware is also expected to fly off the shelves, following the idea that consumers want their newest holiday pieces to be useful, as well. For youngsters, G! offers a Santa mug with a space built in for cookies. For the adults, Switanowski expects whiskey glasses and accessories to be popular additions to holiday serving.

Glassware and dish towels might have a specific holiday theme, but they can also be used year-round. Holiday décor that can last beyond the holiday is a trend growing in popularity, says Sheehan with Design Ideas. “People want decorations that can last all winter and are inexpensive.”

Tradition

BridgewaterCandles3“A consistent trend for Christmas is that people gravitate to the traditional,” says Angela Reiss, Glory Haus’s vice president of sales. Expect that to continue this holiday season.

However, traditional holiday décor means slightly different things to different companies. For some, like Reiss, it is all about the colors. “There are hot new colors for Christmas every year, but the mainstay is traditional.” Home owners still like to decorate in red and green, silver and gold, and while they might add a pop of a different color, the tendency is to return to the tried and true colors of the holidays.

Yes, customers like their traditions, but Nathan Skrove, product manager, seasons, with Midwest-CBK of Cannon Falls, MN, thinks it is fun to jazz up traditional items with a contemporary feel. “Designing traditional pieces in a new, modern way makes it exciting, while still bringing back memories of Christmas past.”

Consumers want a return to holidays past, says Sullivans’ Deelstra. They like pieces that remind them of their childhood, which is why she thinks pieces the company’s plastic and metal ornaments are so popular. “They take you back to your grandmother’s tree,” she says. “The ornaments look an heirloom, and that evokes a memory. It’s the type of thing you want to collect and keep.”

Brandee Monroe, director of marketing with Ragon House Collection from Bolivar, OH, also sees vintage as a popular trend for this holiday season. She adds that a lot of vintage pieces seem to fit right into the holiday theme, even if they aren’t made specifically for the holiday season.

“People want something that is unique and looks like an antique but without the expensive price,” she says. “Less is more seems to be trending this year, and people are turning to social media sites like Pinterest to get ideas on how to incorporate a vintage look into their décor.”

Vintage-looking items made of wire and metal have been popular sellers at Starlight Antiques in Millersburg, OH. “I’m not sure why wire is so popular, but it has a clean line, isn’t overly fancy, and it fits into a lot of different decors, including holiday seasons,” says co-owner Caren Starr, who adds that her store sells holiday décor pieces throughout the year.

Nature

Chimes2“Consumers are looking for things that are true in nature,” says Ken Fetgatter, lead designer for Melrose International in Quincy, IL. In particular, Fetgatter points out products such as holiday trees made out of holly, center pieces made from birds’ nests, and decorative pine cones.

While reindeer and cardinals will always be holiday favorites, they are now being joined on the mantle by other woodland creatures. Customers are seeking out ornaments, figurines, and glass pieces modeled after deer, squirrels, and owls. “They are taking the place of traditional snowmen,” says Fetgatter.

With the growing interest in nature, earth tones like browns, grays, darker greens, and tans are joining the traditional holiday colors. Even many of the materials used for decorative pieces are more outdoorsy, like wood, burlap, and metals. “The colors are restful and peaceful,” Fetgatter points out. They provide the sense of comfort many are looking for during the holiday season.

Glamour, glitz, and glitter

The comfort of tradition and the restfulness of nature certainly have their special place, but this is still the holidays when folks want to pop champagne and celebrate. Glitter first made its presence known a few years ago, but glitz and glamour are definitely trending upward.

Frankly, if a piece can be covered with glitter, beads, or shiny fake jewels, it will be. This sparkly trend also joins together many of the other holiday décor trends. Favorite nature-inspired items, such as pine-branch centerpieces and wreathes are sprayed with silver or champagne-colored glitter. “It reminds you of Tinsel Town,” Sullivans’ Deelstra says.

“The styles this season include a lot of bright and fun products with bling,” says G!’s Benjamin. “It’s something a little sassy with a seasonal twist.”

If it doesn’t have glitter or beads, then it has colors that pop. “We are seeing a fun and bright color palette this year which is appropriate because the joy of a season focused on family, friends and celebration demands such bright and joyous color,” says Sheehan of Design Ideas.

The rising popularity of glitter and bling may find its roots in the years of a weak economy. It provides a sense of wealth without breaking the bank, Fetgatter points out.

Of course, no holiday décor would be complete without pieces such as candles, Santas, snowmen, and angels, and all of the trends incorporate these holiday staples in some fashion. And if these trends have a familiar feel to them, it’s because, when it comes to the holidays, customers gravitate to what they know and love – sometimes with a little extra bling to make it more interesting.

Sue Marquette Poremba

Sue Marquette Poremba is a freelance writer based in State College, PA. She specializes in technology, engineering, energy, and IT security topics. She has also published over a dozen essays and is the author of a book about the Philadelphia Phillies.




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