How to Get Your Salon in the Holiday Spirit

Christmas decorations

It may only be the beginning of October, but it's time to get your salon in the holiday spirit. According to Peter Millard, a New York City-based designer and the author of Reinventing Space: The Clear Logic to Successful Salon Design and Retail Merchandising, 70 percent of shoppers have half of their holiday shopping done by the end of September. In layman's terms, you're late to the game if you haven't already planned out your holiday decor and retail. 

The most important thing to keep in mind in retail merchandising is that you're selling haircare products, not a piece of food or a clothing item. "We all know what food and clothing is, but most people have no clue what the haircare products lined on your shelves actually do," he says. "The rule of thumb is to explain rather than display." Millard is a huge proponent of signage on every shelf to explain what guests are looking at, and what a specific line of haircare is going to do for them. 

For holiday-specific merchandising, the same rules apply and then some. Millard suggests putting more effort into helping your clients solve problems, namely helping to finish their shopping list. "Make a sign that reads, 'Let us help you with your holiday shopping list,'" he says. Clients might be more apt to purchase a product if they suddenly remember those hard-to-buy for people on their shopping list. 


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When it comes to holiday decor, less is more. "No Christmas trees," Millard says. "Instead, put a few matte plastic balls or snowflakes in non-traditional colors—something chic and unexpected—in a minimal glass bowl on your reception desk and call it a day," he adds. "Put gift set displays at each work station. By display, I mean a simple sign about helping clients with their shopping, and the gift set which is already decorated for you by the brand. You don't really need more than that."

At the Summit Salon Academy in Tampa, Florida, simple holiday decorations are limited to the top of the shelf.  

Here, Millard shares five useful tips for holiday merchandising. 

  1. Set out your gift sets on a raised table, meaning 42" or higher, right in your waiting area so that guests have to walk around it. Use cardboard boxes wrapped white wrapping paper and silver ribbons as levels to put gift sets on. 
  2. Ask your stylists to choose a product they love and put it on their workstation with a sign saying 'This is MY miracle styling product. Share it as a perfect holiday gift.' A simple gift like that takes care of teachers, babysitters and neighbors. It's thoughtful and it helps solve gifting problems. 
  3. If you want to get creative, make a wreath at the front desk using gift certificate envelopes. Make a sign that says 'When you give a gift certificate, you give a gift that you know they will love...because they will choose it themselves.'
  4. Put up a sign in the break room and remind your team that their guests are likely to be stressed around the holidays about how much they have to do. When a guest mentions that they are anxious over undone holiday shopping, tell your stylists to help them rather than just listening and sympathizing—suggest gift certificates, gift sets or stylist products. 
  5. Finally, gift yourself a new reception desk or retail display from It could change your salon and take it to the next level.