While many people were still coming down from Halloween’s sugar high, employees at Furst the Florist & Greenhouse were swiftly swapping out pumpkins in favor of poinsettias in preparation of their holiday open house November 2 and 3 — an event that drew 600 customers to the Dayton, Ohio, business.
Getting a jump start on the holidays has many advantages, explains marketing manager Kylie Furst. For one, it minimizes competition with customers’ busy calendars (parties with friends, family and colleagues, for instance). “It’s also a great way to get our staff in the holiday spirit and get all of our product merchandised,” Furst said. “And it gives our clients a taste of the new color combos and creative designs we have to offer before they start their holiday decorating.”
The two-day open house included design shows, complimentary photos with Santa, snacks, door prizes, a silent auction, lunch food and snacks, sales on holiday merchandise and festive displays in the showroom and greenhouses.
During the shows, held twice each day, one of Furst’s designers created custom fall and holiday arrangements, which were later auctioned off. “This year we allowed some audience participation, which seemed to be a hit,” Furst said. “We offered several refreshments all day so customers could grab a plate of food and sit down and enjoy the show.”
The design demos, Furst said, are opportunities to highlight the shop’s panache for distinctive, personalized style. The overall event moves “a big chunk” of holiday products right away, setting the stage for a successful year’s end.
“We always get a great response from our attendees,” Furst said. “Many have been coming to our open house for many years, so it’s neat to talk to them each time and hear their story of when they came to the shop as children and how much fun they had.”
Is a holiday event on your to-do list? Here are some of Furst’s best practices:
Promote early. Furst started posting about the open house in mid-October, getting fans ready for another year of Christmas fun even before Halloween. The shop likes to plant the holiday seed far in advance to get customers planning their Thanksgiving and Christmas décor, enticing early orders in addition to event attendance.
Make attendees feel at home. Want people to linger? Be sure to offer refreshments and hands-on activities to encourage guests to stick around. This is especially crucial as the weather gets colder, Furst said. Free food, design shows and photos with Santa are a few ways Furst makes customers feel comfortable and inspired.
Showcase your designs. Go hog wild with custom designs and decor. Open houses let you show off your designers’ talent.
Incentivize returns. Furst hands out coupons and advertises discounts at the open house to encourage customers to come back for more later in the season.