Christmas Open House?
Practical suggestions to make this year’s event your most rewarding
The earlier you hold your holiday open house—while
remaining in the realm of good taste—the better. Many florists host
Christmas open houses the first weekend of November. Here are some great
suggestions for planning this festive event.
who to invite
There are different ways to select people to attend
your open house. Whether you choose to advertise to the general public
or have an invitation-only event depends on the locale of your shop and
your clientele. Here are some ideas.
To broaden your customer base, use a mass mailing to get as
many people as possible into the shop. Create your own
mailing list by displaying a guest book labeled “Our Private
Mailing List” all year long. Customers who sign the book
make a captive audience for future events.
Network with garden clubs, civic organizations and church
groups to let them know about your upcoming open house. Send
them special invitations.
Tie in your open house with a fundraising event offered by a
philanthropic or nonprofit organization. Have a “preview”
with the group the night before the open house date. Members
of the organization can sell tickets and serve refreshments,
and you can provide a beautiful setting in which to house an
enjoyable evening out.
Host a private showing for special customers and larger
commercial accounts on a Saturday night. Again, make it an
opportunity for a lovely night out, providing soft music,
candlelight and refreshments.
Control the traffic flow by staggering the times, such as 2
p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Send an equal number of invitations
for each time. A crowded open house won’t be enjoyable for
you or your customers.
music and refreshments
Music can set the mood for a festive event, and
refreshments can add that special extra touch. Here are some guidelines
Don’t go to elaborate lengths on food, drink or unnecessary
decorations that will increase your labor and, therefore,
your costs. A nice combination would be hot wassail, a cold
punch, and homemade gingerbread or decorated Christmas
cookies. Refreshments should be light. Food should be a
secondary consideration. The purpose of the open house is to
“sell Christmas!” Serve champagne in tulip champagne glasses
if city ordinances allow alcohol. Alcohol increases sales!
Music is important in setting the mood. Live music isn’t
necessary, but have some soft recorded music playing in the
background. For a variation, have carolers singing outside
you’ve gotta have a gimmick
This is the fun part! Choose a special idea or format
that will delight your customers. Here are some ideas.
Premiere a new line of your own specialized Christmas
product, such as the “Flower Boutique Garland.” Create names
for your own lines. Private-label products, such as candles,
also are readily available today. (Conduct an Internet
search for “private label candles,” for example, to find
Display fresh evergreen trees if local ordinances allow.
Guests will be impressed. Silver-tipped white fir trees
placed in 2-foot-deep buckets of water can be put up the
last week of October and taken down the first week of
January. The trees can be fireproofed, if you choose.
Take photographs of your guests at the open house, and
invite them to come back later to pick up copies of the
Offer valet parking. Guests will love it!
Roll out the red carpet—literally! A red-carpet pathway to
your front door really sets the stage for the rest of the
Try something unique, like inviting a group of actors to
depict a scene from a Christmas-themed play or movie, such
as A Christmas Carol or Miracle on 34th Street.
Have a percent-off sale, offering a discount on a select
group of merchandise or coupons good for a second purchase.
Here are a few ideas for making your guests feel even
more welcome and appreciated.
Greet all guests by name. Assign employees particular guests
to whom they can give special greetings and tours. Make sure
employees introduce themselves first.
Get into the spirit by having employees dress festively. A
tuxedo or holiday apron would be a nice touch, and nametags
for employees would be helpful.
Give parents a break by having a special area set aside for
children. Hire local teenagers whom you know to be
responsible to look after the kids. They can add a festive
air by dressing up in elf costumes or wearing Santa hats.
Play fun games, or offer outdoor activities if the weather
Have printed lists of store Christmas specials and prices
available, so guests can take them home for use in placing
Dos and Don’ts
Keep these general tips in mind when planning your holiday
DO have small pick-up items, such as scented candles,
available for guests to snap up while browsing in the shop.
DON’T have too many trim-a-tree ornaments available
unless they are proven good sellers.
DO monitor carefully what items your guests buy during
the open house. Keeping track of popular merchandise will help
you in developing your purchasing strategies for next season.
DO plan a specific traffic pattern throughout the store
to keep guests moving.
DON’T forget to decorate the outside of the store.
DO keep the store fragrant by burning scented candles,
putting out reed diffusers or potpourri in bowls, or simmering a
kettle of spiced cider.
DO offer door prizes, such as a wreath, a Christmas
centerpiece and a fresh arrangement, to top off the festivities.