Orignial copy dated 10/11/2011 – Edited October 18, 2013
It is never too early to get a jump on the holidays! You want to get out ahead of the competition and start spreading good will and good cheer! So, put on your Santa’s helper hat and let’s get started! Start early – the first open house of the year always has the potential to get the average buyer thinking ahead and making their holiday shopping list! A GREAT impression at your event can bring the gift shopper back a few times between now and December 25th.
BEST PRACTICES from the experts- Offer a special or promotion, to get the foot traffic in the door. Market your event heavily- GET THE WORD OUT! And last thing, Offer a rain date alternative- the whole world is BUSY and weekends are taken. HAVE FUN and ENJOY THE PARTY!
Make your party FUN!!!
- Go all out – from the minute you walk in the door to the last impression at your cash wrap, let’s make it FESTIVE and filled with holiday good cheer!
- Jingle bells on your front door can greet the guests
- Don’t forget a wreath or stocking or holiday greeting on your door
- You can set the scene with red Santa hats on all employees
- Take pictures of your customers enjoying the festivities and post on your store’s website, Facebook page, newsletter and in the store for everyone to see.
- Decorate around the theme – Hang paper snowflakes from the ceiling, or silver bells or glittery stars.
- Pre-wrap gifts and use to decorate your store anywhere you want your guests to think – this would make a great gift!
- Have Santa or Mrs. Claus greet all who enter!
Music: The music should reflect your theme. Here are some traditional suggestions:
- The Drifters “White Christmas”
- Bing Crosby – “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
- Frank Sinatra – “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”
- Brenda Lee “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree”
- Peggy Lee – “Winter Winterland”
- Eartha Kitt – “Santa Baby”
- Vince Guaraldi Trio – Charlie Brown Theme Song
- Boston Pops – “Sleigh Ride”
Drinks & Appetizers
- Holiday cookies and decorated cupcakes
- Peppermint bark candy
- Holiday Frosted brownies
- Your favorite cheese ball recipe
- Cheese and crackers
- Fresh veggies and dip
- Festive non-alcoholic punch
- Mulled Cider
- Hot cocoa
- Spice tea
- Hint- Use the serving pieces, paper table ware and tools you sell when serving your guests. PLUS…be sure to sample some of your food items that you sell in your store as well.
Give Away ideas
- Candy canes to all who enter
- Small cello wrapped party favors tied with festive ribbon – the favor could be filled with small hard candy and treats
- Miniature stockings filled with Hershey kisses wrapped in red and green foil.
- A tiny sprig of evergreen tied with a ribbon.
- A giant stocking filled with treats and give-away’s. Don’t forget to ask all your reps for extras!
- A trip to a local spa or salon (coordinate with a local spa, in return for free advertizing)
- A giant potted poinsettia donated by a local florist – in return for some free publicity
- Gift cards to your store for their next stop in – ALWAYS promote a repeat visit!
- Promote gifts for every person on your list – students, teachers, and all the women in your life. Group together products by interest, personal taste, and budget.
- Pull displays together by price point and by theme – this is the time to promote all things luxurious. The best bath products, the softest robe, or fluffiest powder puff, the fine leather wallet or journal.
- Offer free gift wrap AND delivery with a minimum purchase.
- Don’t forget the buyer with the long list to buy for – several teachers, nieces, ladies group, large family. Reward this buyer with ‘Buy More, Save More’ deals.
- Give a discount on multiple buys and complementary items- Buy two regular priced items, receive a third free (equal or less value)
- Buy two, get one free accomplishes two goals- You move product and your customers benefit from the great buys.
Something extra special
- Invite a local choral group to carol throughout your store during your event or to make a special appearance just outside, when you expect to be busiest. You could offer a donation to the group’s favorite charity in exchange for the caroling.
- Pay local college students (or make a donation to their local club, sorority) to serve as waiters for your big day.
- Live entertainment of any kind is always special- an acoustic guitar and singer.
- Consider the lovely music of a harp or violin. Can you recruit someone from a local college?
- Have Santa on hand for the children (and the big kids). Have a photographer on hand to capture the fun.
- Have food tastings and demonstrations during your event. Sell the food or treats, or the prep tools and serving pieces used. This is the time of year we entertain the most. Everyone is looking for fast and fabulous! Send everyone home with the recipe!
- Offer valet parking, with the tips going toward a local cause or charity.
- Ride your guests to and from their cars in a golf cart, if your town approves. Decorate the cart accordingly.
Marketing- in your e-blasts, flyers, or paper invitations
- Create event flyers and insert them into every customer’s bag at purchase for two weeks minimum before the event.
- Send an e-mail blast to your customer base inviting them to the event with a special offer for them and a friend (Great word of mouth advertising and you could double your traffic.)
- Ask them to print the eblast and bring to the event or mention the invitation to be eligible for a special discount, treat, gift, etc. This allows you to track the effectiveness of your emarketing.
- Post your event on Community Bulletin Board and your local hot spots
- Local Coffee Shops
- Local Restaurants
- Local food markets
- Kid’s gyms & karate schools- anywhere the lady of the house is sure to see your advertisement.
- Invite the local media to your event
- Phone your BEST customers a week before the event and extend a personal invitation to these special buyers.
Partner up with a charity
- Any women’s or children’s charity
- Local food shelter- give a discount or gift to anyone that brings non-perishable food to donate at the event.
- Adopt a family for the holiday season
- Connect with anything local that may be a focus in your community.
- HINT: Tying your event to a charity can give you great PR. Inform your local TV channels, newspapers, radio stations and invite them to your event.
Set your event apart
- Don’t forget the everyday gift giving needs that we all must buy for- birthdays, births, showers, and weddings. These occasions are ‘recession proof’. Be ready with your ‘silent sales person’ – the beautiful displays you put together.
- If your store gift wraps, be sure you are ready with gift appropriate wrapping paper for all the possibilities. Think about offering free gift wrap on event day. Or free with a minimum purchase.
ENJOY THE SEASON!!! This is simply the BEST TIME OF THE YEAR!!