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Merry Department Stores: The Top Five Most Festive

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We're down to the wire here with gift buying, and in these desperate time, many will flock into the department stores that dot our fair city like richly-hued cabochons in a complex brooch. Moving on from the awkward simile, we're taking a look at the decorated facades of Manhattan's retail monsters, as they are glitzied up to attract as many wallet-waving tourists and harried locals as possible.

Here are the Top Five Most Spirited Department Stores:

5. JC Penney
So new and yet so on their game already. The place is already covered in red thanks to JCP's branding, but the addition of Christmas lights to their Greeley Square facade helps it stand out, instead of shivering in the shadow of Macy's next door.

4. Century 21
Every year they blanket their entire building in strings of bright red lights, just as they cover their sales floor with red markdown labels and the cherry cheeks of tourists who make the trek down to the Financial District for the bargains here and a peek at the WTC site across the street.

3. Bloomingdale's
Ever since their "friends & family" sale here almost a month ago, the places has been bonkers with shoppers and retail staff working overtime to get the goods into their hands. To make their presence known with more than just the sea of "Big Brown Bags" that leave the store, Bloomie's stripes their facade in lights, a design reminscent of Bendel's trademark striped bags.

2. Macy's
No way is Macy's number one, but it's close enough. Macy's obnoxious display is like that annoying neighbor who decorates with what seems like the entire holiday section from Home Depot; there's the giant tree, the garlands, the red ribbons and ornaments in the entryway, and a humongous lit-up "Believe" on the 34th Street side. Like with that annoying neighbor, Macy's will have you wondering about the amount of their electric bill this month.

1. Saks Fifth Avenue Although their holiday windows aren't the best, featuring a disco snowflake named "Twinkle," their impressive synchronized light and music display on Fifth Avenue is loud enough to distract the tourists from Rockefeller Center across the street. We captured a little of the magic right here, and you really can't miss the show if you're in the vicinity, since "Carol of the Bells" is almost deafening. Still, you can't completely resists the warm fuzzy feeling that it causes.
· Holiday Windows [Racked]

Macy's

151 West 34th Street, Manhattan, NY 10001 (212) 695-4400 Visit Website

Century 21 - Lower Manhattan

22 Cortlandt Street, New York, NY 10007 Visit Website

Saks Fifth Avenue

611 5th Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10022 (212) 753-4000 Visit Website

611 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY