Photos by Collin Richie.

How Victoria’s Toy Station’s holiday gift display comes to life each year

When it comes to holiday shopping, there’s nothing quite like a toy store display to spark the heart’s desire. Think: Ralphie in A Christmas Story. Enshrined in a department store window amid a pile of shiny goodies, lay his greatest wish, a Red Ryder BB gun. 

An annual floor-to-ceiling holiday display at Victoria’s Toy Station in Mid City aims to provide similar Christmas list inspiration.

Owner Katie Culotta Shoriak and store manager Denise Stari start assembling their 360-degree toy diorama immediately following Halloween, taking two days to amass a jolly arrangement packed with kids’ gifts as well as fanciful apparel and decor for the tree and home.

“We try to be different,” Shoriak says. “We try to be childlike.”

This year’s display uses more than 160 colorful glass balls on both a tabletop Christmas tree and loops of garland suspended from the ceiling. 

“I just love the way light makes every single one look like it’s lit,” Shoriak says. “It’s just magical.”

Stari says the design is intended to resemble presents under the tree on Christmas morning. The toys chosen reflect the current national mood in gift giving. This year’s roundup mirrors a desire to move away from electronics and return to tactile, experiential gifts, Shoriak says. 

“Things are really going back to traditional,” she says. “We see people wanting doll houses, big trucks and train sets. And we have sold tons of (board) games.”

Those items get plenty of real estate, as do snow village pieces and various styles of nutcrackers and nutcracker-themed gifts, like picture books that play snippets of Tchaikovsky’s iconic score. There are also stuffed animals and festive children’s capes that add style to parties or holiday cards. 

“I had a customer come in this morning who saw this,” says Shoriak, pointing to a moss-green cape. ”And she was like, ‘My child is wearing that in her Christmas picture.’” Learn more at

This article originally appeared in 225 magazine’s 225 Daily newsletter.