Christmas Open Houses are a great way to drive traffic to your store and create a community social event. This is the first of a two-part series on how to plan your own Christmas Open House, step by step.
A Nashville Wraps customer, Patricia Jane & Co. in Hendersonville, Tennessee holds a Christmas Open House the first weekend in November. Part of their success is due to maintaining a large mailing list, offering a personal “Wish List” gift registry, providing great refreshments, and inviting Santa Claus for photos with the children. Watch an interview with Buffie Baril of Nashville Wraps and Owner Patricia Woods and her daughter Trisha talking about this event.
The Gift Shoppe at Perkins Drugs in Gallatin, TN has been a customer of Nashville Wraps for over 20 years. Their Christmas Open House draws up to 800 customers to their store. Always the second weekend in November, customers look forward to it each year to kick off the holiday shopping season. See Owner Sam Rickman and Gift Shop Manager/Floral Designer Pam Kenney talk about it in this video.
To hold your own Christmas Open House this year, start with this checklist to help you get organized.
- Plan Your Fun-Filled Event, One Step at a Time.
- Expand your mailing list. Include a sign-up list at your checkout station. Give customers the option to be notified of sales and specials events – don’t forget to collect email addresses too.
- Stock your store with holiday merchandise by mid-October at the latest. Pass out Wish Lists like this one for customers to create their own personal gift registry. Have them write down their favorite items and return the form to someone on your staff. Friends and family can then stop by and choose something on the registry. This is especially helpful for male shoppers – they can call in advance and you’ll have the gift wrapped and ready to pick up.
- Set a date – preferably the same weekend each year so customers can plan to attend. For extra incentive, plan a special sale.
- If you’re planning to include a Santa, book one early. Hire a local photographer or recruit someone on your staff to take pictures. Patricia Jane & Co.’s photographer mails each customer their images on a CD to use as they wish.
- Decorate your store with bold holiday decorations. Include a sign about the open house in your window display.
- Starting in November, play Christmas music and use candles or diffusers to create a Christmas mood.
- Display door prizes near the front of the store, preferably at a table where people can sign up for your mailing list and be entered in the drawing. Include small prizes such as Christmas ornaments or small boxes of gourmet treats – it’s more fun when more people win.
- Get your holiday gift wrapping station organized. A free gift wrapping service will really set you apart and will pay for itself with the customer loyalty you’ll build. Advertise this free service in your marketing. Make sure your bags are custom printed or use a personalized label so you will advertise your business to each gift recipient.
- Plan an easy holiday menu – punch or cider, cookies and candies, and nuts, dips and appetizers to balance out savory and sweet. If you sell gourmet food or mixes, by all means serve what you sell! Carryout party trays from local restaurants are great. You can even hire a caterer or get staff to help. Set up the food table at the back of your store to encourage the flow of traffic.
- If needed, recruit extra help for the event to wrap gifts, serve punch, or take photos.
For tips on promoting your event, keeping everything running smoothly the day of, and following up with customers afterward read Part 2 below.
Buffie Baril & Kathy Green