The holidays would be a bit easier if only we could all go holiday shopping at the gorgeous luxury boutiques that have populated Galleria for years and which recently multiplied with the debut of River Oaks District. Even if a treat from these tony shops isn't an option unless Santa is footing the bill, window shopping among the stunning displays is a surprisingly fun—and free—way to get in the holiday spirit when the temps are stubbornly un-Christmas-like. The best windows manage to be fun, festive and fashionable all at once—like these five standouts.

Img 4468 xjdovm

Image: Sarah Rufca

5. Hermès, River Oaks District

Can't be sure, but I think this is the world's first holiday buffalo. It's almost like someone in the Paris offices forgot there was a new store in Texas to decorate, so they were just like, "You know what? Use whatever spare pieces of metal you can find, make something Western, and then add a green bag." And yet, I am transfixed. Point Hermès.

Img 4488 vllrqy

Image: Sarah Rufca

4. Chanel, Galleria

Only Chanel, the most beautiful store in the Galleria, could get away with using the retro full-face mannequins from the 1980s and make them look this chic. Extra points for integrating the camellia, one of the symbols of the brand, into the snowy mountain display and for having the foresight to dress the mannequins in fashion styles appropriate for a humid Houston Christmas.

Img 4484 ylavnj

Image: Sarah Rufca

3. Tiffany & Co., Galleria

This window display is the Russian nesting doll of window displays. It scales down a full wall of windows into smaller and smaller scenes that mix artistic elements and frosty snowflakes, finally culminating in these precious dollhouse-style stage scenes that put the iconic Tiffany engagement rings (and the equally iconic blue boxes) front and center. To me, the color and stylistic elements call to mind a wintry Russian love story like Anna Karenina, but I'm sure Tiffany & Co. won't mind if everyone else rather sees Frozen in its design.

Img 4459 x2exdx

Image: Sarah Rufca

2. Dior, River Oaks District

Recently it's been a challenge for fashion-y windows to appropriately invoke holiday cheer, without relying on any of the traditional colors or elements. (You see, tradition is far too done/over/expected for a cutting edge design house.) By starting with the simple and familiar graphic element of the classic Christmas ornament and turning them into a festive, colorful ball pit of fabulousness, Dior is showing how it's done. 

Img 4457 zyutir

1. Cartier, River Oaks District

Fortunately for all of us who can't quite get behind purple and pink as the holiday colors of the moment, jewelry stores are carrying the torch of more traditional decorations and glamour. Cartier's signature shade is the rich red on its packaging, so making a stunning statement was as simple as stringing up some garland and affixing some red and white jewelry boxes in the mix, plus a couple winter wonderland scenes in the windows themselves. Simple, stunning, and completely on-brand—what's not to love? 

Img 4462 hqpqqg

Image: Sarah Rufca