I really like Christmas time. In fact, I love it. I was very lucky to experience wonderful Christmases as a child and I have carried the warmth and excitement of it into my adulthood.
There will always be a magic about the season for me; an energy and a wonderment that fills the stores and the streets. The smell of pine needles excites me and although I have tried, I cannot go a year without dutifully decorating the apartment. A real tree is an absolute must as are Christmas-scented candles, stockings on the mantle, roasted chestnuts and as many Christmas tunes as I can cram on my nano. Christmas shopping followed by Baileys on ice in front of the fire, holiday get-togethers and Christmas movie nights headlined by my ultimate fave, A Christmas Story, are just some of the things I do to inspire that Christmassy feeling. And as proven in that very film, I believe that Christmas window displays are an essential part of the holiday package.
The battle of the best dressed window really hit a high in the 1950’s when department stores would compete against one another for the most impressive display and the unveiling of such really did signify the beginning of the Christmas season. In Toronto, the intersection at Yonge and Queen used to be home to popular department store Simpsons and Eaton, both of which would have eager faces pressed up to their windows at this time of year as families “ooo’ed and ahhh’ed” at the elaborate festive exhibition. Over the years expansive malls have taken the place of these well-loved department stores but the tradition still lives on for some, including myself.
So if you get into this time of year as much as I do, here’s a few places to head to in Toronto to get your festive on without having to spend a penny.
What used to be Simpsons is now Hudson’s Bay and the only ‘traditional’ department store that still exists in our city. And so of course they continue to bring it with their Queen Street window brimming with old-school Christmas cheer. Moving figures of festive families and Santa in his workshop bring holiday tradition back to the street. This is my favourite window to really get me giddy about Christmas Day.
Always known for their more edgy Crimbo displays, Holts splashes their windows with high-end festive flare. This year the luxury retail chain unveiled their ‘Northern Noel’ holiday windows with different vignettes inspired by vintage posters. The theme of the displays focuses around ‘apres ski’ festivities and so is perfectly aimed at their target market. This is where I like to go to write my “when I’m mega rich” Christmas list.
The fancy kitchenware dealer has kept their Christmas window effort fresh with a festive peppermint theme. Treat yourself or the cook in your family to some spanking new pots and grab some peppermint bark to go.
Perhaps a surprising addition to the lineup but the clothing store put much festive effort into their ‘home for Christmas’ window theme which features two mannequins making out so of course they deserve a mention.
I have spent countless hours meandering around this mega book store and at Christmas time it is even more difficult to limit time in the literary haven thanks to the lure of merry music, cosy nooks and if you’re lucky, Starbucks. Their classy windows focus on the joy and wonder of the season complete with white trimmed trees and plenty of sparkle.