Service of Who Took the Children Out of Christmas and Hanukah Department Store Window Decor?

November 28th, 2022

Categories: Children, Christmas, Holiday Sales, Retail, Retail Window Displays

Bloomingdale’s Louis Vuitton holiday window made of Legos

I guess Christmas and Hanukah and their iconic symbols designed to enchant youngsters no longer inspire NYC holiday windows, or so a few major retailers made me believe. And what children appreciate the senior members of their families often do as well. For decades trains and marching soldiers enthralled New Yorkers and tourists of all ages. Some things never get old. The last year Citibank installed a major train display in Manhattan there were lines to see it daily. I visited with my husband. I can’t forget the dad at the front of the display who had to tear away his three-year-old who screamed in protest when pulled off the line to make room for others. The crowd was mesmerized.

Bloomingdale’s holiday window featuring giant camera

Yesterday I was looking at Bloomingdale’s holiday windows as was a couple with a toddler in a stroller. The little one was staring at the windows without expression. His blank look—and the subjects of windows there and at Saks—gave birth to this post.

At Bloomingdale’s, I didn’t get the connection to holidays other than accents of red and green plaid ribbon and a giant plastic teddy bear. Louis Vuitton’s window was slightly child-oriented because it was designed with Legos. But the static design—a blue and white checkerboard tree with a “skirt” of multicolored Legos heaped in piles and a blue and white background–was bleh and not eye-catching to a little one. The oversized camera and scissors in other windows didn’t score nor did the child manikins dressed in bizarre fur onesies.

Window at Saks. Photo: Nancie Steinberg

What about Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows?  Nancie Steinberg’s images didn’t shout children either. In fact, I had to read media coverage to understand what I was looking at. Do you think a child would think, “Aha! I recognize the toys inspired from ‘special gifts from years past,’ also described as ‘nostalgic’ and ‘heartwarming,'” according to press reports? Only two examples of toys of yore were referred to: a kaleidoscope and rocket ships. And boy were those references subtle.

In addition, Justine Golata reported in secretnyc, “Saks has teamed up with Sir Elton John for this year’s holiday campaign to support the British singer’s AIDS foundation, The Rocket Fund, which includes a $1 million donation and dedicated holiday window displays. People can also shop the Elton John x Saks Fifth Avenue special holiday collection where $500,000 in proceeds will go towards The Rocket Fund, regardless of sales.” Now I get the rocket window.

I’m all for charity at any time of year and I like Sir John and his work. Did Saks really need to import him to attract store traffic? And what does he have to do with Christmas or Hanukah?

How hard would it have been to honor Charles Schulz, who turned 100 this year, featuring his ever-popular Peanuts gang? Or for those who insist on breaking from tradition to be trendy and fresh what about a contemporary setting through which trains might travel—it could be enchanting.

Anyone remember the windows at Lord & Taylor? The lines in front were four+ people deep.

Could it be that adults don’t like to shop with their children in tow anymore so commercially, windows that would enchant kids are not viable? Are the windows I mentioned fabulous and visually over my head? Or do children take a backseat as a retail priority during the December holidays these days?

Saks holiday window. Photo: Nancie Steinberg

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15 Responses to “Service of Who Took the Children Out of Christmas and Hanukah Department Store Window Decor?”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    Thanks for sharing! Good observation.

    Try reaching the stores directly???

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hank,

    Do you think they care? And who am I anyway? Jane Q Citizen whose opinion matters ZILCH!!!

  3. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: I don’t recall the Citibank train display but do miss Lord & Taylor’s holiday windows, which were always great. (Frankly I miss L&T in general.) Most parents these days buy kids’ gifts online so I don’t think a “tour of department store windows” is a thing any more, especially outside Manhattan. Another tradition bites the dust.

  4. BC Said:

    Changing times… another effort to break family traditions and/or cater to children and families. Not even subtle! Take religion out of the holidays!

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    I guess but there are a ton of kids who still live in NYC and increasing numbers of tourists and scads of people who go to Rockefeller Center to see the tree lighting.

    As for the Citi trains, Homer adored miniature trains since childhood and tried not to miss any display. He wasn’t alone given the lines! And the Botanical Gardens has a great exhibit during the holidays these days.

    Nevertheless, it’s tough doing a “tour of holiday windows” in the city as so many of the traditional department stores in Manhattan are gone.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    BC,

    For those who duck an association of religion to the holidays and want their windows to be “vanilla,” there is little as “safe” as a train display or the Peanuts gang, for that matter. Both bring out the child in many of us.

  7. Loretta Adams Said:

    Loretta on Facebook: My family– and there are lots of kids under 12 –still make the trip annually to see the tree and skate at Rockefeller Center, visit the store windows and the magnificent Christmas lights and displays. You are spot on that We all love child friendly displays…. whether young or young at heart.

    Another favorite of ours is Bay Ridge to look at all the homes so beautifully decorated.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Loretta,

    I feel vindicated! I thought I was being an old grinch. There are so many ways to update traditions while maintaining the best of old and injecting the best of new.

  9. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: I’ve seen the train display at NYBG, excellent and worth trip to the Bronx.

    My older brother had original Lionel trains he would set up in the basement atop a ping-pong table. Loved watching them go round and round.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    Homer had a similar display, I imagine. Once bitten by the train bug I suspect it never leaves. I never had a set but I love watching the ones I come across.

  11. Martha Takayama Said:

    I remember with delight and now sadness all the magic and beauty of store windows and displays as a child, an adolescent and a grownup/. My grandmother took me to downtown Boston to see Santa Claus. We are Jewish, but that didn’t seem to make any difference. I adored browsing the Christmas catalogues as a child and my favorite item was a Madame Alexander doll, although I never had one.

    We now are drunk on money and exhibitionism, saturated with fascism, hatred, tastelessness, and a nihilistic world view! Today I just read about an extremely bizarre, horrific Balenciaga photo spread with children, teddy bears, and the brand’s handbags all swathed in S and M restraints! We seem to have gone more than a little mad and children have been totally overlooked. in this joyless season.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I can’t think of a response to your Balenciaga example. I’m horrified!

    I read only the headline, but the New York Times loved this year’s windows.

    A friend who had seen the Saks ones said they were the worst Christmas windows he’s ever seen and he didn’t take a single photo. Usually he does. He’s an artist and has been an advertising design director.

  13. lucrezia Said:

    Failure to recognize Christmas, Hannukah and/or any other beloved tradition bears the stench of Woke philosophy: The politically correct fear of offending anyone.

    Now should a member of that society be disturbed over what I just wrote, I couldn’t be happier, and will cheerfully throw more of the same his/her way!

    Ps Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and Happy Kwanzaa to all!

  14. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I think you’re right but also in trying to be cleverer or more cutting edge or trendy than the competition, store window designers and the marketing heads who approve their “visions” lose sight of the season and their audience. This audience–especially for stores like Bloomingdale’s and Saks–might be largely made up of doting grandparents who on seeing the delight–rather than the puzzlement–in grandchild’s eyes, might take note of the teddy bear or Snoopy dog that junior relishes and march in to buy it.

    OH: I just thought of the popularity of Paddington Bear when he and Queen Elizabeth had tea at the Palace. He might have inspired the decor of many a window.

  15. lucrezia Said:

    These so-called marketing heads sound as if they’re out of touch with reality. I’m no fuzzy headed sentimental grandma, but poor taste is simply not my thing, and tacky stuff in a store window, especially during this season, is just that — trash!

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