The most festive time of the year is coming, and it’s also the most critical season for restaurants and retail establishments. As important as November and December are, I like to make sure my team members take time to enjoy the holiday and don’t get bowled over by the stress that can be caused by the holiday rush. One way to do that is to make sure that your store conveys the festive mood: It will be a morale booster for many of your employees and attract business, too! I would say that if you’re not decorating your store for the holidays, you could be missing out on an important aspect of being ready for the season. Let’s look at six outstanding uses for holiday decorations around your store:

1) Window Displays

Nothing is more eye-catching for those customers who just happen to be strolling past than a festive window display that draws attention to some of your top holiday deals. Now is the time to create a great “invitation” to shop – use a window display that tells a compelling story.

2) Tis the Season for Green

Just about any store can find a good way to use garlands for decoration, although they might work best with a country theme. Plastic garlands are cost effective and can keep you from inconveniencing customers with allergies.

3) Lights, Lights, Lights

Get creative with lights and customers will reward you with longer, more profitable visits. White lights can be valuable for emphasizing key points of interest in your store, while colored lights are great for mannequins and special displays.

4) The North Pole Crew

Although not every store will find it a good idea to invite Santa inside, there are many cases where decorations of Kris Kringle, his elves, and a certain red-nosed reindeer may work well. If your goal is to appeal to kids, give it a try.

5) Decorate Your Parking Area

You don’t have to restrict your creativity to the inside of the store: You can carry the theme across your entire establishment by using banners and signs. Be careful that all your decorations will be weather-appropriate, though, and not interfere with passing visitors.

6) Decorate the Outside Walls

If your store is a franchise or corporate location, then you might be limited in what you can do on the outside. If you have full creative control, though, consider what you can do to make your store an eye-grabber. Balloons, flags, and tasteful decorations can all help. If these tips have got you in the holiday spirit, then you’re in luck: You can visit plenty of great resources on the Web to get more ideas. Bob Phibbs has a great piece entitled How to Attract Customers and Increase Foot Traffic over at Retail Doctor.’s Women in Business section has all sorts of ideas on How to Decorate Your Biz. Finally, Firefly Store Solutions has a complete Guide to Holiday Decorations for Retailers. Happy holidays, and enjoy your store’s look!