Engaging Shoppers with Interactive Experiences: Custom Engraved Holiday Ornaments

August 17, 2018


It’s summer outside, but it’s holiday planning season for many of our clients. Our studio is buzzing with design experiences that incorporate a holiday vibe. I dare admit to you, oh internet, that we write this, A Charlie Brown Christmas is playing on our studio stereo; it’s a special time of year here at MakeLab.

Malls are increasingly competing with alternative retail channels, and so what goes on in its halls is more than just added nicety – it’s critical to creating an experience and atmosphere that attracts shoppers. It’s one reason malls have Santa Clauses: it offers an opportunity to delight guests with something they can’t get with online retail. We’re seeing malls create special pop-up concepts featuring small retailers; exclusive credit card lounges that feature free perks like coffee, gift wrapping, and quiet respite; and special interactive experiences at gathering points. When we’re designing an experience, we also bias towards hands-on creative interactives that produce a physical takeaway.

Last year we worked with Yorkville Village on a series of custom holiday experiences. The centerpiece was an interactive where guests designed custom holiday ornaments using our fleet of design tablets. When ready, the designs were brought to life by our laser cutter live on-site. Guests were able to watch while their ornaments were lasered into reality and tied with ribbon to take home. 

For a retail experience at Hudson’s Bay, we laser engraved custom-shaped ornaments with branding on one side, and guests’ designs on the other. A regular shopping trip was elevated to an interactive creative experience – memorable, personalized, and captivating for social media.

What we love about our laser cutters is that they are infinitely adaptable. We can create ornaments and objects in any shape to fit a brand, theme, or narrative, while also allowing for complete personalization on-site. Wood, glass, and even mirrored ornaments are possible. From an experiential marketing perspective, it’s a triple threat: a unique hands-on experience, a compelling fabrication process to capture for social media, and a keepsake with intrinsic sentimental value. And as we get to the end of the Charlie Brown album, I’m reminded that sentimental value is a pretty potent cocktail.

Have a holiday program coming up and need something to create a draw? Check out more detail on our live ornament engraving here.