How Cork's retailers turn their windows into a winter wonderland

Some of Cork’s favourite retailers explain how they create their famous Christmas windows, writes Ciara McDonnell

AS one of the longest established retailers in Cork, Caseys furniture has been creating incredible Christmas windows since 1921. David Casey says family is always at the core of their displays.

“After almost a hundred years in business across three generations, family is of course one of the central concepts that informs what we do at Caseys. We love for our window to stand for and speak to that sense of family enjoying the season in each other’s company.

“Our planning typically gets underway in early September, as the nights begin to shorten and you can start to feel Christmas in the air. Usually our themes tend toward traditional imagery, but we are always on the lookout for new ideas and new ways to spread festive cheer to the streets of Cork.

“Our displays require a large amount of forward thinking and planning, both from a creativity side and in terms of logistics. We like to have our plans fully finalised and visualised a few weeks before the display is put in place, to give us plenty of time to arrange as smooth and swift a transition as possible. Our window is then hidden behind curtains while our team gets everything in place; it’s always great to see the faces passing by wondering what’s going on behind!

“For us, nothing beats the faces, young and old, when our curtain comes down and the smile of the little girl seeing her first Caseys window is the same as her father who might have seen every one. It’s that sense of the traditions that connect us that we value as a company, and that we hope we can share with our customers with this annual display.”

Christel and Wyon Stansfield see their role at Pinnochios toyshop as interpreting the dreams of the children who visit them, and the Christmas windows are a key part of this fantasy, as Christel explains.

“I usually start researching ideas for the Christmas display in October, unless I’ve already been inspired by something midyear. Because Pinocchio’s is a traditional toyshop, I have a look at old postcards showing Christmas scenes, or vintage posters of toys and toyshops. I like our window displays to invoke a very specific feeling.

“When I was in school, we had to make 3D scenes out of shoeboxes and I loved looking at the miniature worlds I had created, like looking into a dollhouse or at a model railway. I like the Christmas displays to evoke an atmosphere of warmth and joy, so that people who pass feel that, if they drop into Pinocchio’s, it will mean stepping into a charming reminder of childhood Christmases past. This year, our display will feature an outdoor scene that calls to mind midnight sleigh rides, and an indoor scene that brings one memories of the magic and anticipation of waiting for Santa to arrive.

“Of course, these displays take a lot of time and legwork, so we spend one or two nights working into the wee hours to make sure they’re perfect. Christmas time is our busiest time of the year and we rely on these revenues to remain open the rest of the year, but we also really love getting into the spirit of the season. We all feel like Santa’s helpers, so Wyon wears his Christmas jumper and the girls that work the counter have even worn Santa hats or reindeer antlers, just for fun! My mother sends me a lovely care package from the Netherlands every year, filled with traditional spiced biscuits, and I bring in a small flask of mulled wine to share on Christmas Eve, and the gorgeous spicy smell permeates the shop.”

The Pavillion Garden Centre in Ballygarvan goes all out on their festive display.

“When we think about Christmas, we look at it as a concept rather than just adding a few ornaments and a tree to your home,” says general manager Cornelia Creedon. “We realise that people nowadays put huge time and efforts into rearranging their homes for Christmas, from the front door to the back door and even the garden. For us its about how to integrate Christmas right through the home in a tasteful way and for this reason we have created Christmas inspiration rooms offering inspiration and decorating ideas that you can replicate in your home.

“Christmas begins in September when carpenters, electricians, painters and decorators get to work in our Christmas shop constructing the concept design for the given year. Once the painting and wallpapering is finished we turn our attention to opening lots and lots of boxes of Christmas! We arrange living furniture and tables in our Christmas store, so we can replicate living spaces as they might appear in your home and then begin to thread Christmas ornaments and decorations through the area.

“Each year in advance of Christmas, we have a ‘Christmas Wish Wall’ where children and even adults write their wishes for Christmas. Each year there are hundreds of wishes and some that will always stand out in memory, some joyful and others that tear at our heartstrings. It reminds us that Christmas is for everybody and we should do our utmost to make its as special as possible for everybody, particularly children. If we can fill our visitors with the traditional values of wonder and joy and make Christmas feel a little more special, then that’s the ultimate gift we could hope for.”



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