Changing the Face of Downtowns

Paper is Your Friend

Paper is Your Friend

Sep 19, 2012

I am constantly asked for easy and simple ways to spruce up a tired window display. Outside of rearranging the merchandise and the simple act of vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning the glass, there is one tried and true way to make a statement on the cheap.


It is colorful, dynamic, inexpensive, and readily available no matter how remote your location.

How can it be that simple? Well, think about it – there is construction paper, tissue paper, card stock, vellum, coffee filters are made of paper, poster board (please don’t use this to make a sign), printer paper, copy paper, crepe paper, paper streamers, paper bags, wrapping paper, packing paper, scrapbooking paper…and on and on.

Let’s start with my favorite – Paper Pom Poms.

This craft has been around since the beginning of time, and thanks to Martha Stewart, is still very much loved and adored. The fluffy pom poms can be crafted, by you, for approximately $1 each. All you need is one pack of $.99 tissue paper, a white fuzzy pipe cleaner or some craft wire, a pair of scissors, and a some fishing line. They take up a fantastic amount of visual space, adding a giant punch of color for spring and summer, beautiful golds and browns for fall, and a window of white in winter.

I have been known to hang them from the ceiling, from a large tree branch, line the floor of a window, or even fill the window floor for a cloud effect. All in all, this is a great way to get a lot of punch for $1.

For a full tutorial on how to make these fluffy eye catchers yourself, visit Martha Stewart.

Another simple way to add some color to your windows, or for an easy vacancy treatment, is shopping bags. Small or medium paper bags filled with a fluff of tissue. Slightly more costly than the pom poms, but still very inexpensive. You can use brown craft and green tissue for an “eco friendly” look, red, white, and blue assorted for the big holiday weekends throughout summer, all white for a more ethereal effect, or even red and green polka dots for a fun holiday look.

In addition, you can use a nice stencil and permanent marker to use those bags both for visual impact as well as signage. Simply have S-A-L-E  printed on your bags and do double duty!

Don’t forget that by using your own store bags, you are reinforcing your store brand and image. Use sporadically in a display, overstuffed with tissue, to remind your customers you are open and ready for business.

Let’s not forget the store that uses paper in ways no one could ever imagine: Anthropologie. You can see the impact a simple paper chain has when multiplied. You can do this with simple construction paper, in the color of your choice, and some plain old school glue. In the case of this photo, the window has more paper than clothes. Some might say that you need to have as much merchandise visible as possible, but in small stores, this technique might save your merchandise for the floor – and save it from the sun.

This same look can be achieved with simple crepe paper streamers, found at most any party or general store. Start at the ceiling and drape down to the floor, creating a colorful and dramatic backdrop to the goods you want to highlight in the window.

Remember, use color to highlight the season or your store brand.


Have some string and lots and lots of coffee filters? Then you have the makings of a great coffee filter garland. And those cupcake liners? Just think of them as tiny coffee filters! You can create an adorable window garland for your bakery or coffee shop just by stringing up a few of these daily “essentials”. For a fun guide to creating your own, check out this blog post by Pamela Garrison.

By now, you may have noticed many of these ideas were originally created for weddings and parties. Wedding and party blogs, websites, and Pinterest pages are generally fantastic resources for inspiring and creating beautiful visual displays. So, when you are planning your imaginary first, second, or third wedding, keep your business in mind!

There are endless ways to use paper and paper products to create a beautiful and eye catching window display. With a little creativity, some Pinterest inspiration, and a few Google searches later, you can be on your way to a fantastic window design!

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