Small town Christmas celebrations are especially wonderful when they remind us of the classic movies we get to watch (and re-watch) around the holidays. Those iconic Christmas scenes are unforgettable for the feelings of nostalgia they evoke.
Think: Falling snow in front of an old theater, Christmas packages wrapped up in brown paper, and the shimmer of tinsel in store windows, reflected into the bright eyes of kids with their noses pressed against the glass.
As if downtown Franklin wasn’t charming enough for its welcoming warmth, holiday storefront begin popping up down Main Street for nearly a month before the big day.
You’ll see Christmas trees, vibrant greenery, oversized ornaments, and even toy soldiers greeting you as you stroll down arguably the most picturesque street in America. As we’ve learned through the years, there is always a story to tell—and holiday windows in Franklin borrow from tradition, family memories, and Christmas classics.
Here’s a guide to the best storefront displays in our idyllic small town:
Walton’s Antique & Estate Jewelry
A winter wonderland awaits in the windows of Walton’s. Heirlooms sparkle against fluffy snow, candelabras, and flocked greenery. But, the windows of this downtown Franklin original—which dates back to 1974—didn’t always have a blustery facade.
“My grandmother loved the holidays and would get very involved with the decorations,” says Walton’s owner Julie Walton Garland. “I remember this sparkly red felt that she used to cover the window risers. It makes me smile and also cringe to think about!”
For the past few years, Julie and her dad have put up the window decorations together and have opted for the clean elegance of snow. Julie once tried to add in fake snowballs, but they never made the cut. “The vision was better in my head! However, each year when we open the storage boxes, there they are.
It’s become a tradition for my dad and me to have a snowball fight in the showroom before the decorations go up. I look forward to it every year.”
The team begins decorating at the beginning of November to make sure that their windows are fully dressed before their busiest season of the year, which starts right after Thanksgiving. “Ever since I was a little girl, seeing the Christmas decorations go up makes the holiday season feel official and signals the beginning of the rush. It’s our favorite time of year!”
On the square, you’ll see a familiar face peeking out of the oldest building in downtown Franklin: Ralphie in his pink bunny suit from A Christmas Story. This endearing character is just one of the iconic holiday symbols in their window display.
You’ll also see a familiar leg lamp, a Red Ryder BB gun box, a festive ‘You’ll shoot your eye out, kid’ shirt, and a decked-out Christmas tree. “We love decorating as it brings hope and joy—along with a little cheeky fun—during the holiday season,” says Retail Manager Sandi Galaura.
“Our customers appreciate the warm, creative, and home-y atmosphere.” The custom screen-printing shop does Christmas a little differently than the rest of the block. Twine goes for quirky themes, like A Christmas Story, that brings back nostalgic holiday memories for everyone who enters.
Hester & Cook
Just like the spirit of their store, the holiday display at Hester & Cook—purveyors of stationery, home gifts, and table décor—is designed as fuss-free inspiration for shoppers.
As Creative Director Courtney Cochran says, decorating is the quickest way to get the shop in the holiday spirit. “The season can be hectic, and time just flies by. Slowing down to plan and put up decorations is one way of being present and enjoying this special time of year.” Hester & Cook has been preparing since early November. Their display uses a little crafting charm to transform ordinary products into merry décor.
“We use everyday objects and easy, traditional crafts to make displays that anyone could replicate at home,” Courtney says. “We try to make something beautiful that could still be incorporated into a dinner party.”
The Heirloom Shop
Some say that Christmas is The Heirloom Shop‘s Super Bowl—and their extravagant holiday display has them taking home the trophy. In the right window, a large Christmas tree with a glittery red star and glass Christopher Radko ornaments (including a custom Franklin ornament) oversees a snowy Christmas village down below.
A smaller container tree sits outside the shop with a cheery red bow on top. In the left window, Catstudio Christmas pillows, cozy throws, and quirky gifts make you want to sit and stay awhile. “There have been families for generations that come into the store and buy their ornaments,” says owner Lillie Grace Ellenburg. “For me, Christopher Radko is such a big part of The Heirloom Shop and its legacy—so I love to have the ornaments where everyone can see!” Lillie and her mom, Leigh, want to preserve The Heirloom Shop’s traditions while adding their own family touches. It’s their first year owning the store.
“My mother used to come shopping every year for Christmas decorations at The Heirloom Shop with my grandmother and great-grandmother. I love the store and how much my whole family is involved in it.”
Some say that Christmas is The Heirloom Shop’s Super Bowl—and their extravagant holiday display has them taking home the trophy. In the right window, a large Christmas tree with a glittery red star and glass Christopher Radko ornaments (including a custom Franklin ornament) oversees a snowy Christmas village down below.
A smaller container tree sits outside the shop with a cheery red bow on top. In the left window, Catstudio Christmas pillows, cozy throws, and quirky gifts make you want to sit and stay awhile. “There have been families for generations that come into the store and buy their ornaments,” says owner Lillie Grace Ellenburg.
“For me, Christopher Radko is such a big part of The Heirloom Shop and its legacy—so I love to have the ornaments where everyone can see!” Lillie and her mom, Leigh, want to preserve The Heirloom Shop’s traditions while adding their own family touches.
It’s their first year owning the store. “My mother used to come shopping every year for Christmas decorations at The Heirloom Shop with my grandmother and great-grandmother. I love the store and how much my whole family is involved in it.”
Comfy and cozy are we! As the new store on the block, Sage Sleep co-owner Heidi Redmond was excited to celebrate her first Christmas season downtown.
“Last year, we would walk up and down Main Street just to look at the decorations and feel the holiday spirit,” she says. “We couldn’t wait for our turn to bring a piece of Christmas to Franklin!” A peek in their bay windows shows off a cozy Christmas morning (complete with blankets and robes) with greenery and soft neutral colors.
“We’re still learning what’s working and what isn’t,” Heidi says, “but we do know that we’ll always do our best to bring a sense of home, of organic Christmas, and of a place where people are excited to come and rest for the holidays.”
The cheer of the season overflows in the windows of Tin Cottage. On one side, mittens, tiny shoes, and ornaments hang from the ceiling, complemented by poinsettia flowers and a little white wagon.
In the other window, a brightly-lit “Christmas” sign stops shoppers in their tracks. The crown jewel of the display, however, is the fresh greenery laced with a red ribbon that frames the store’s entrance.
Tin Cottage loves the opportunity to “go all out,” as owner Marianne DeMeyers says. But, the store never strays far from perennial favorites. “You will always see something traditional,” Marianne says. “With the architecture and majesty of historic buildings [downtown], we want to bring out the beauty of our Main Street community. We want our window display to look like it could be from the 1940s but also inspire you in 2019.”
Imago Dei’s small storefront is beautifully accented for the holidays with garland and wreaths. Sarah Tucker, the owner, is a big fan of all things cozy. “Any excuse to have warm, twinkly lights around—I’m in!” she says. Her display is built around the incomparable joy and warmth of being home for the holidays.
It’s what she hopes guests feel in her shop year-round. “More than anything,” Sarah says, “I hope that the twinkly lights in our storefront remind visitors that God is always with us.”
This year, the shop has ventured out of their classic Christmas decorations with a modern new addition—shimmering metallic tassels in the transom above the door.
Gray’s on Main
If you see toy soldiers saluting you on Main Street, you must be at Gray’s on Main.
As owner Joni Cole shares: “Tradition is the essence of who Gray’s is.” For this reason, the toy soldiers have become a staple downtown during the holiday season—you’ll see them year after year welcoming visitors. Joni says that the restaurant always has the goal of honoring the original Gray’s community legacy.
“We want our guests to stop in wonder and in awe of the lights, greenery, and toy soldiers. All of the sights, smells, laughter—we want you to feel like you are home.”
The display is, indeed, splendid. White lights illuminate garland stretched across the historic building, with classic red ribbon setting off each bough. Wreaths hang on the windows, and the life-size soldiers make a fun photo op for guests. “Tradition is about trust!” Joni says. “Visitors know that when they come back to Gray’s year after year, they will have the same wonderful experience.”
It’s not just shops that get into the spirit of the season. Ecco Salon owner Lisa Asselin loves decorating her windows for the holidays to bring Christmas cheer to everyone who walks by.
The store features a blue-lit tree with metallic ornaments framed by windows lined in white lights. You’ll also spy several nutcrackers. “Christmas is our favorite time of year,” Lisa says. “We love displaying our large Santa Christmas tree and light-up doggies! One of our staples is having our little mascot dog, Teddy, in the window.”
You won’t want to miss the holiday sass that Magpies brings to Main Street. They’ve been planning since January. “We scour markets and hunt for things that feel rare, fresh, and new,” says owner Maggie Tucker. “We must have sparkle! And we love a vintage moment!”
The store’s windows sport a unique highlight you won’t see in many other displays: 80s holographic tinsel. “It reminds everyone of unicorn hair,” Maggie says. “And, what’s more magical than a unicorn?” In addition to shimmery strands, Magpies flaunts greenery adorned in metallic pink baubles.
Their goal, Maggie says, is to capture the childlike wonder in a Christmas display that keeps guests coming back to experience the joy. “[Decorating] takes us back to when we were kids. The delight of the holiday season as a child is pure magic.”
For a boutique that has mastered the essentials in fashion, Gin-O has dolled up their holiday windows with classics that never go out of style: greenery and ornaments. But, as owner Ginger Wilder says, the store always tries to bring in some new pizzazz with seasonal trends. “Winter white is huge this year—not only in fashion but also in home decor—so we knew that white snowflakes were the way to go!”
The large storefront windows show off geometric ornaments, oversized snowflake cutouts, and twinkling lights. “We love decorating and joining with the rest of this special community in celebrating Christmas,” Ginger says. “Seeing our customers light up and get in the Christmas spirit at the sight of our decorations is so fun for us!”
A glimpse through the windows of White’s feels like waking up on Christmas morning. On the outside, you’ll see garland and wreaths. On the inside, you’ll see trees with colorful and quirky glass ornaments, cozy plaid pajamas, the shimmer of tinsel, and plenty of garlands.
That nostalgic tradition and warmth embody the overall theme of White’s, says shop manager LeeAnn Pechonis. “Our favorite part of decorating for the season is creating an atmosphere in the store that leaves our customers with a lasting impression,” she says. “The Christmas holiday is such an intimate season for families, and we value being part of that.”
While each year’s decorations are different, LeeAnn says that they always try to incorporate natural garland so the store smells as good as it looks. “We love telling stories through our displays. Our store is our home, and we want to make it feel that way for everyone who walks through the doors.”
For traditional white lights in a winter wonderland, take a stroll over to Jondie. “We hope our windows contribute to a sense of excitement and joy on Main Street,” says CEO Rebecca Davis. “We love to bring fun and surprises to our Christmas decor by nestling cute little figurines and fun items around the store so that there are always new things to discover.”
This year, their display will be a little different than visitors have seen in years past. “We wanted to get creative!” Rebecca says. “But, we are including elements that have become a tradition for us, like rows of white lights that provide the backdrop for our windows.”
And the list continues. Veer off Main Street to get a glimpse of a hand-painted, snowy replica of downtown Franklin in the windows of Merridee’s Breadbasket. Stop by Anthropologie to see a very colorful “CHEER” hanging amid bubble lights. Almost every shop, with its unique personality, pays tribute to the most wonderful time of the year.
Expect the full show of holiday window displays—bright, beautiful, and as holly-jolly as you’ll ever see—during each of the incredible Holiday events that happen in downtown Franklin each December. The storefronts are best enjoyed with a few good friends and a cup of something hot.