Planning a Christmas Open House?

Practical suggestions to make this year’s event your most rewarding ever.

     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 to follow.

  • 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 the store.

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 suppliers.)
  • 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 pictures.
  • 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 open house.
  • 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.

Christmas courtesy
     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 permits.
  • Have printed lists of store Christmas specials and prices available, so guests can take them home for use in placing future orders.

Dos and Don’ts

Keep these general tips in mind when planning your holiday open house.

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.

Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc..
PO Box 4368
Topeka, KS   66604

Phone: 800-367-4708
Local: 785-266-0888
Fax: 785-266-0333

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