20 great ideas for autumn events

According to a survey conducted by StrategyOne for the Back To Nature food company of 1,002 adults, fall is the favorite season of 28 percent of Americans (only spring surpasses autumn in popularity, being the preferred season of 38 percent of Americans).

With myriad decorating options for this quarter of the year as well as relatively mild weather in most parts of North America, it is a great time to create some excitement among consumers about your store with special events. Here are 20 ideas that are sure to attract crowds.

1. Offer a class. Consumers love to watch how the pros arrange flowers, and they have even more fun when they can get in on the action. Consider charging a nominal fee for materials, and conduct a step-by-step hands-on demonstration of how to make an autumn wreath or arrangement.

2. Set up a decoration station. Appeal to do-it-yourselfers who thrive on opportunities to be creative. Set up a wreath-decorating or a gift-wrapping station, for example, with a variety of permanent botanicals, ornaments and ribbons.

3. Have a drawing or a series of drawings. Provide slips of paper on which visitors can sign up to win an autumn wreath, floral arrangement or gift card to your shop. In addition to names and phone numbers, be sure to ask for postal and/or email addresses so you can send information about future promotions.

4. Capture the memories. Set up an attractive photo backdrop using hay bales, pumpkins, a scarecrow and/or other autumn adornments, and take digital photos of individuals and families. Get the customers’ email addresses, and send the photos to them along with printable coupons to be used in your shop. Alternatively, assign a portrait number to each subject, and have him or her come back into the shop later in the week to pick up the photo and, hopefully, to browse and buy.

5. Organize free crafts for kids. Children love to create, and parents love to have their children occupied and entertained while they shop. Set up several crafts stations such as gourd painting, leaf rubbing, and Halloween or Thanksgiving card making, and provide a bag for each child to take his or her creations home.

6. Have a coloring contest. Set up a station with crayons as well as coloring pages or blank paper at which children can draw an autumn scene. Consider enlisting the help of a local scout troop or high school organization to assist with supervising the children and judging the contest. Award prizes such as small blooming plants or single-stem flowers.

7. Hunt for gourds. If space at your facility permits, invite children to participate in a gourd hunt, a fall version of an Easter egg hunt. If space is not available at your business, consider hosting several of these activities at a nearby park or other public area, perhaps with a shuttle provided to your store.

8. Toss some seeds. Set out pie pans, and have a pumpkin seed toss for children, with a special prize for the child who tosses the most seeds in his or her pan. Consider providing Halloween pencils or other trinkets for the other participants so that every child receives a “prize.”

9. Have a carved pumpkin contest. Encourage your customers to bring in their freshly carved pumpkins to be judged for a chance to win a $20 gift card or a blooming plant from your shop. Consider having several entry categories, such as funniest, scariest, ugliest, etc. If you offer pumpkins at your business, consider having a carving contest on the premises.

10. Have a scarecrow-building contest. Provide a list of guidelines at your shop prior to the event, such as size limitations and preferred/prohibited materials, and have people bring in their fully decorated scarecrows the day before the event for placement along a fence or wall. Consider having categories for individuals and businesses. For example, a local bakery may want to participate by creating a scarecrow with a chef’s hat and apron. Reward creativity with gift baskets or gift cards.

11. Encourage customers to “get lost” in aMAZEment. If your business has a cornfield, clear a few paths and create a maze through which visitors can attempt to find their way. On a smaller scale, create a maze with hay bales for children to navigate in your parking lot, on adjacent property or in a nearby park.

12. Host an arts-and-crafts fair. Invite local painters, potters, jewelry makers and other craftspeople to set up tents outside your business to display and sell their wares.

13. Strike up the band. Live music adds flair to any event. Consider hiring a local oldies band or jazz band, or invite a local high school marching band or choir, to entertain the crowd.

14. Be a talent scout. Invite your customers to provide the entertainment by having a talent contest. From tap-dancing to yodeling to stand-up comedy, the event is sure to be full of life. Award prizes for the first-, second- and third-place winners, such as fall floral designs, plants, gift baskets or gift cards to your shop in $50, $25 and $10 increments.

15. Support a charity. Work with a charitable organization in your community to sponsor an event at your fall festival. For example, consider working with a local blood bank to host a blood drive or a local animal shelter to bring dogs and cats to your shop for adoption. Be sure to have donation jars available for those who wish to participate monetarily.

16. Take time to “tailgate.” Use the widespread popularity of the fall football season as a theme for your autumn event. Enlist the services of a civic organization to sell soda, hot dogs and other typical tailgate fare, which will help raise funds for the organization and attract customers to your shop.

17. Offer wine tasting. Partner with a local winery or wine shop to offer a selection of wines for those of legal age to taste. If you have a gourmet line, include cheese samples as well, or partner with a local dairy to provide this accompaniment. Check with your legal counsel to find out about statutes and liability issues in your area or state regarding this kind of event.

18. Round up a petting zoo. Work with a farmer to have an assortment of animals outside your shop to entice families with children to attend your fall event.

19. Offer face painting. Always a favorite among children, face painting is sure to draw a line of customers. Enlist the help of a creative employee, or hire a local artist for this fun service.

20. Seek help in distributing fliers. Partner with local businesses to help spread the word about your fall festival. Provide floral arrangements for furniture stores, restaurants and other businesses in exchange for placement of fliers at their establishments.


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PO Box 4368
Topeka, KS   66604

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