How to Make Your Holiday Open House Memorable - Amber Hurdle | Globally Recognized Leadership & Personal Branding Expert

How to Make Your Holiday Open House Memorable

October 28, 2018

Hosting an open house for the holidays is a wonderful way to build your brand locally, nurture relationships with current customers, showcase your business to potential customers and other businesses, and give back to the community. Here are a five tips to make your holiday open house memorable.

Have a clear purpose and vision for the event.

This is the most critical part of the planning process and needs to be determined before anything else. Some questions to ask:

  • Why are you hosting this event (i.e. increase visibility locally, thank current clients, create warm leads for future sales, onsite purchases during the event, etc.)? While you may have a few reasons to host the event, it is good to determine your top reason since this will shape many of your choices for the event.
  • How do you want people attending your open house to feel? Energized, relaxed, festive, fun, engaged? This should compliment your main goal for the event, and it will influence your invites, decor, food and beverage, and gifts.
  • What is the theme for the evening? You can make it as elaborate or simple as you would like, but everything should fit within the theme.
  • What is the process that your customer will go through from the moment they enter until they leave? What will they experience?

Don’t cut corners with the food and beverage.

Your open house is an expression of your business, and food is one of the ways to show people how much you care. No matter your budget, you should not skimp on food. Think cheese platters, charcuterie plates, and mini desserts not chips, pretzels, and oreos. While it’s not a sit down meal, you should still have enough appetizers for a substantial snack.

If possible, have it catered so it is one less stress for you the day of the event. Having (and labeling) options for dietary restrictions such as gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegetarian, and vegan will be appreciated and is another way to show that you care about all your customers. Most importantly make sure there isn’t a shortage of food!

Also, don’t forget the beverages. I encourage you to be festive with the beverages such as a make your own hot cocoa bar (include flavored syrups or alcohol, marshmallows, chocolate sprinkles, mint shavings, etc), having a signature cocktail and/or mocktail, offering a glass of sparkling wine or apple cider upon arrival…the possibilities are endless.

Create an inviting ambiance.

Your goal is to make your open house an inviting place to hang out. You want to encourage people to mingle and walk around the space, so place the food & beverage in a couple different locations to encourage movement. Have standing cocktail tables versus tables with chairs, and have background music that isn’t too loud to have a conversation.

This likely is the first time that many people will be exposed to your business, so make sure that you have inviting decor. It should fit with the theme of your event and also accentuate how you want people to feel.

Don’t forget to be inviting to kids as well (if they are invited). Have a couple activities for them (i.e. face-painting, decorate a gingerbread person, etc) because if they are happy and entertained, the parents will stay longer.

Involve partners.

Do you have vendors that you regularly work with? Are there businesses with services or products that you can partner with? Using partners is a great way to increase the value of your open house for the people attending: a partner can sponsor items for a giveaway; you can create a special package with a partner to be purchased that day only; you can show the behind the scenes of your business by having vendors there.

Involving vendors and complementary businesses also increases visibility for your open house since they should be promoting the event to their audience as well. If you do use partners, make it as easy to promote your event as possible. Share the Facebook event link with them, write social media and newsletter copy that they can use, and share photos of the event. The easier you make it for them, the more they will promote your event.

Don’t forget the extras!

It is the little extras that help enhance your open house. Whether it is mailed invites, a welcome gift upon arrival, flowers at the tables, having an activity for the kids, donating a percentage of profits to a local charity, or an emailed thank you with a photo of them at the event, think about what little things will help create an amazing experience for your customers. If you can personalize it, do it!

It is easy to get overwhelmed when planning an event. Try to delegate as many of the tasks as possible, and make sure that you are available during the event to connect and be present with your customers. If you would like to plan an open house but would still like a bit more guidance on the steps involved to plan the event, you can download my event planning checklist.

About the Author

Emily Murnen

Wild Elm Events

Small Business Events

Emily Murnen is the founder of Branch Out Experiences – curated events that bring together established women entrepreneurs for community, growth, and adventure. She is also the founder of Wild Elm Events, an event planning company helping entrepreneurs create high-quality events. She has over 12 years experience in planning events from 10-1,000 people, and her passion is to help foster deeper connections and community through live events.

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