Forget shopping -- gaping at holiday shop windows is a sport all its own. The best displays capture imaginations and create one-of-a-kind branding buzz. Some of this year's windows utilize special technologies and social media to help spread their shop's name during this critical holiday shopping season. Here are some of our favorites, to get you in the spirit of the season (and get you thinking about your own windows for next year).
Lord & Taylor
In advance of Lord & Taylor's 100th anniversary in its flagship Manhattan location, the department store chose windows that highlighted its long-time heritage. Window scenes bring old New York to life, showcasing vintage scenes of shoppers looking for gifts, sitting with Santa and even enjoying a leisurely lunch or tea in the shop’s legendary restaurant.
Lord & Taylor
Fun facts: Nearly 50 people create Lord & Taylor's windows throughout a period of 9 months. The windows weigh nearly 2,000 pounds and are the some of the only department store windows on hydraulics. According to Lord & Taylor, 250,000 people pass by its windows between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Bergdorf Goodman's windows are the showpiece of Fifth Avenue and the piece de resistance for gawkers doing the holiday window walking tour each holiday. This year's windows reimagine a calendar's worth of holidays through ice and looks from top fashion designers. Pictured here: The Fourth of July.
April Fool's Day on ice
Valentine’s Day on ice
Halloween on ice
Macy’s Herald Square was one of the first department stores to feature holiday windows in the 1870s. This year’s windows explore the story of young boy’s dream on Christmas Eve, tying in with the retailer’s annual “Believe” holiday campaign. High-definition LED lights bring fairies to life and interactive technologies let viewers shatter icicles and watch their shards spell “J-O-Y.”
Here a young boy helps fairies decorate forest trees using “droplets” from a crystal waterfall that have turned into hand-blown glass ornaments.
Accessories retailer Henri Bendel imagines the ultimate dinner party for its New York flagship's windows. The guests include a range of entertainers from stage and screen including Carol Channing, Whoopi Goldberg and Woody Allen. Each are three-dimensional renderings of drawings first created by the celebrated illustrator Al Hirschfeld.
Audrey Hepburn is one of the many personalities brought to life in these Al Hirschfeld-inspired windows.
Saks Fifth Avenue
This year's Saks Fifth Avenue windows in New York tell the story of a fictional Yeti who lives atop the iconic retailer and how he came to New York to become a celebrated snowflake artist.
Anthropologie, a women's apparel retailer known for clothing that merges modern and old world elements, used wooden cutouts, yarn and embroidery to give homage to Eastern European folklore at the retailer's Rockefeller Center location.
Thousands of wooden furniture pegs were handwrapped in yarn to create bears and wolves in Anthropologie's Rockefeller Center windows.
This year, Hammacher Schlemmer returned to New York and celebrated 165 years in the city. Its windows celebrated what's to come, with an exploration theme that highlights the retailer's sometimes over-the-top products. The window on the left features the 7-foot Robby the Robot, a life-sized animatronic recreation of the machine from the 1956 film Forbidden Planet. On the left sits a Hyrdo Powered Jetovator, a flying seat that can suspend a rider 25 feet in the air thank to powerful jets of water.