‘Tis the Season: Four Pop-Up Shops Bursting With Holiday Cheer


Ah, the holiday season! A time for sipping hot cocoa, exchanging gifts, giving back, spending time with friends and family, and . . . checking out fun pop-up shops from your favorite brands. Branded holiday pop-up shops are quickly becoming a mainstay of the holiday season, brightening up any day (or night) for shoppers, passersby, and people looking for truly unique seasonal experiences. With that said, why should brands consider seasonal pop-up shops as part of their experiential marketing campaigns? 

For starters, pop-up shops offer the opportunity to create a truly immersive experience that allows people to get an up-close, interactive look at your brand. Combine that with their exclusivity (most pop-up shops have limited runs), the fact that they’re cost-effective, and offer brands an opportunity to generate product buzz/experiment in a temporary space - and you’ve got a win! Spruce them up for the holidays? All is merry and bright indeed!

With the holiday season in full swing, we invite you to get cozy, take a seat by the fire, and read our round-up of some of the most festive and innovative holiday pop-up shops that are sleigh-ing this year!

Chick-fil-A Gives the Gift of Time

What’s one thing we all wish we had more of during the holiday season? Time. For most people at the end of the year, it’s all about spending time with the ones we love most. And this year, popular fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A wants to help give the gift of time to consumers and fans alike. How? With an inspiring, uplifting campaign that’s true to the brand and encourages people to dedicate more time to the people they care about.

“From building relationships with guests, to encouraging shared moments between friends and families, togetherness has been at the core of our business,” says Chick-fil-A. “And this holiday season, we wanted to extend that spirit of ‘Together Time’ even further.”

Taking the concept of ‘Together Time’ across several platforms, the brand dives into the world of holiday pop-up shops and launches an all-encompassing campaign that includes an endearing animated short film, an exclusive pop-up experience in New York City, and a website (The Time Shop) that allows people to submit and share customized “gift of time” cards to friends and family (“a written commitment to spend quality time together,” says the brand).

The holiday pop-up shop is available for people to attend from December 4-17, and offers up a fun, interactive experience with the ‘Together Time’ theme taking over. Free to attend, the pop-up shop plays upon the themes of the brand’s newly-released animated short film.

The film is all about a “family rediscovering the importance of time well-spent through a young girl and her magical visit to a fantasy Time Shop where the girl learns about ‘Lost Time’, ‘Time that Flies,’ and “Together Time’, says QSR Magazine.

Within the pop-up shop, attendees can spend time together in a series of different spaces with themes like ‘Play Time’, ‘Story Time’, and ‘Snack Time.’ And in a fun move further mirroring the film, onsite calligraphers are there to spruce up people’s time-card requests.

Holiday pop-up shops that are authentic to a brand’s message and all about making the time for those you care about? Love it!
PopSugar Inaugural “Sugar Chalet”

What’s more wintery and fitting for the holiday season than a cozy ski-chalet? That’s exactly what the brand PopSugar gives attendees (and a whole lot more) at its very limited (one day only) inaugural holiday pop-up shop within New York City’s Bryant Park Winter Village.

Upon entering the inviting (and highly Instagrammable) “Sugar Chalet”, people can choose to participate in a ton of different experiences, including yoga, meditation, cooking classes, or everyone’s favorite . . . shopping! Doesn’t that sound like the perfect relaxing winter day? Brands that attendees can shop from include Nature’s Way, Athleta, e.l.f. Cosmetics, and many more. Talk about the kinds of holiday pop-up shops that spread cheer!

Speaking to Forbes on the goal of the experiential pop-up shop, Lindsay Leaf, PopSugar’s Vice President of Experiential Marketing, says it’s about taking people to another world while also incorporating the themes of winter-wellness, joy, and engagement.

“We wanted to create a fantasy world where consumers could immerse themselves in an après ski setting while spending time shopping and discovering new brands, connecting with friends, and treating themselves,” says Lisa. “Every moment of the Sugar Chalet experience was designed to support PopSugar’s overarching goal of fostering joy, engagement and discovery within a playful lens. Our key partners, like us, represent health, wellness, style, and beauty, and the on-site activities align with the winter-meets-wellness needs of our consumers during this time of the year.”

The holiday pop-up shop welcomes over 1,500 attendees with decor that’s perfectly fitting for a winter wonderland ski-lodge, including a huge hearth with rainbow-colored logs and a cute gifting wall brimming with swag behind tiny little closed doors, encouraging people to open them up. All is bright indeed!

Other fun aspects within the chalet that are perfect for winter and encourage wellness? Nature’s Way serves up yummy, warm Elderberry drinks and gives away supplements, Athleta holds an exclusive “Mom & Me” yoga class, Studio MNDFL leads meditation sessions, AND Maria Koutsogiannis of Food by Maria hosts a winter wellness workshop. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What makes this so special in the world of holiday pop-up shops is that it’s not just about creating fun moments for social media with its kitschy, beautiful decor, it’s about taking care of yourself and enjoying relaxing winter activities with your friends and loved ones. Talk about the perfect gift!

Chanel Creates a Winter Wonderland at The Standard

From December 12-15, Chanel creates a stylish, festive winter wonderland within New York City’s Standard Hotel, dubbing its pop-up shop, “Chanel No.5 in the Snow.” When it comes to holiday pop-up shops, Does it get any more fashionable than that?

Open to the public, anyone who visits the pop-up shop can enjoy ice skating, hot cocoa, delicious food, and the chance to fully immerse themselves in a beautiful setting fit for their latest social media post.

“The setting is inspired by Chanel’s latest campaign for the No.5 fragrance, starring Lily-Rose Depp; in it, the face of the label is seated atop a bottle of Chanel No.5 perfume, covered in soft piles of falling snow, looking into a snow globe holding — you guessed it — a bottle of Chanel No. 5 perfume,” says WWD.

To perfectly recreate the snow globe, Chanel incorporates a brand new, exclusive augmented reality experience that allows people to interact with a personalized snow globe that’s accessible through chanel.com or Snapchat. On trend AND fitting for the holidays? Visions of perfect holiday pop-up shops dancing in our heads!

Netflix Brings Holiday Spirit to The Grove

In celebration of its latest holiday release Klaus, Netflix brings its unique holiday pop-up shops to Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago with a philanthropic twist. The experience coincides with World Kindness Day and in the true spirit of the holidays, is all about giving back.

To make the experience truly larger than life, the brand outfits the space with a giant gift box that’s not only picture perfect but features the release date of Klaus, a move that generates even more excitement for the feel-good holiday film. What makes the experience truly shine though, is its special “Letters to Klaus” initiative.

“As part of its ‘Letters to Klaus’ initiative, the online media company is teaming with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in answering the holiday wish lists of children in the organization's mentoring program,” says the Hollywood Reporter. “Participating youth and their volunteer mentors will help unwrap the oversized present, which will be filled with personalized gifts for kids.”

A holiday pop-up shop that promotes a good cause AND builds buzz for the streaming service’s festive new film? Perfect!

The message is clear, pop-up shops are always a great idea but during the holiday season, they’re even brighter. For brands looking to make an impression on consumers in a way that’s immersive, authentic, and memorable, holiday pop-up shops are anything but frosty!

Check out brand activations designed and produced by Sparks.

Posted by Charlotte Moriarty | Request as a Speaker

Penn State alum. Self-Proclaimed foodie. Hungry for trends. Lover of all things Boston sports. Inspired by kindness.