Small Business Saturday is known as “the day we all shop small,” but it’s also a day to do it up big! Remember that November 30th is not only a celebration of your customers, but also your company’s accomplishments. Here's a guide for how you can put on your host hat and create a memorable event for your customers and local supporters.
1 Month Before: Get organized
—If you haven't already, now's the time to start compiling an email distribution list of customers, friends and family. Gather and save email addresses during check out, or register an account with an email subscription site. Now you have a built-in guest list when it's time to send out an email invitation for your in-store event!
—Create handy lists to consistently update throughout the planning process:
- A master to-do list that highlights every logistical task
- A cost sheet to keep you within your budget
- A shopping list for necessities, including even the smallest of things
—Reach out to vendors who need advance notification, like DJs, photographers, florists or caterers.
3 Weeks Before: Send your invitations
—Using your email distribution list, create an online invitation to send to your guests.
- Holiday tip: With Thanksgiving in the air, take the opportunity to use seasonal verbiage on the invitation by thanking customers for their continued support. Community is the backbone of small businesses, after all.
—Be sure to include who, what, when and where on the invitation. Suggestions for attire are also appreciated by guests.
- Company tip: Maximize your influence by creating a clever hashtag for your event and including it on the invitation. If you own an ice cream shop, how about #sundaesonsaturday? Or for a Camille Styles gathering, we'll play up phrases such as #saturdayinstyles or #camilleshopssmall! This way, everyone attending and involved in the party can share in the excitement while driving more awareness to your company.
2 Weeks Before: Plan the menu, decor and promotions
—Bite-sized hors d’oeuvres or desserts will satisfy customers and keep their hands free from forks and focused on store merchandise. No need to provide a heavy, high-maintenance menu; these guests are coming to shop!
- Holiday tip: Plan dishes based on seasonal ingredients such as cranberries and pumpkin.
- Company tip: If you’re all about company promotion, order custom cookies, cupcakes or cake balls displaying your brand logo or colors.
—For the drinks:
- Keep it casual! Embrace the idea of self-serve beverages, from winter fruit sangria served out of a drinks dispenser to locally brewed beers iced down in a galvanized bucket.
—For the decor:
- Catch the attention of those driving by the store with balloons or a burlap-wrapped sunflower bouquet at the edge of your storefront.
- Consider incorporating additional signage, florals, favors, rental furniture, lighting, fun drink stirrers and decorative garlands to really add a festive air to the event.
—For the promotion:
- Showcase what you do best: serve tastings of new menu items if you're a restaurant, hand out your favorite new jewelry bangle as a party favor if you're a boutique, or offer discounted services to the first 25 attendees if you're a day spa.
- Utilize social media! Use your company’s website, Twitter and Facebook page to create a countdown with giveaways, party hints or product discounts. The more buzz, the better.
- Tip: If you’re neighbors with other participating small businesses, create a partnership that promotes the entire block with a similar theme or time frame. Engaging in the small business community is key.
1 Week Before: Start prepping and keep buzzing
—Pick up any ingredients or party supplies still remaining on your shopping list.
—Ensure that you will have extra hands on deck on the day of the party. This means hiring extra employees or recruiting family and friends to assist in set-up and take-down.
—Knock out any prep that can be completed ahead of time, such as assembling party favors, printing flyers or beginning to arrange your buffet.
—Continue your social media outreach.
1 Day Before: Finish prepping
—Give the store a thorough cleaning.
—Put up decorations and set the scene.
—Prepare any refrigerated dishes.
—Confirm any deliveries and the attendance of employees and vendors.
The Day of the Event
—Set the buffet table with a festive linen, finish final food preparations, put beverages on ice, arrange party favors at the entrance and finish all the final details.
—Toast to the success of your party! And don't forget to thank each guest who walks in the door for supporting you and Small Business Saturday.
Camille Styles is the founder and creative director of popular lifestyle blog camillestyles.com, where she shares the creative entertaining ideas that inspire her parties and her life. Her modern aesthetic and eye for detail come together to create parties that are simply chic and all about fun. Follow her on Twitter at @camillestyles.