Tips for Planning a Buzzy Holiday Party at Your Small Business

Holiday parties are a great way to generate buzz, get more customers, and give your sales a boost. But they’re only good if people show up. Below are some strategies for planning a successful, fun, and well-attended party.

Entice people with a hook

The holidays are busy. So you need to give people a compelling, unique reason to come to your event. Some ideas to jumpstart your creative juices:

  • Running a sale or promotion as part of your holiday party is probably the easiest way to get people in the door. Everyone who attends and makes a purchase enjoys 20 percent off what they buy, for example.
  • Position your party as a VIP after-hours event with music, gift bags, raffles, and hot apple cider. This is a great way to reward your loyal customers.
  • Join forces with neighboring businesses and host a block-party-like holiday bazaar.
  • Host a raffle. Everyone loves prizes and free stuff.
  • Plan activities related to your specific business. For example, if you’re a salon, offer free classes on how to do holiday party hair. If you’re a housewares store, plan a cake-decorating workshop. Or if you’re a florist, host a wreath-making class. No matter what kind of operation you are, you can host a gift-wrapping party, where customers bring in (or buy) gifts and then learn how to wrap those gifts like pros.
Get Started with Square Email Marketing

Email marketing software that turns occasionals into regulars

Send out an email

Once you have your party’s theme nailed down, the next thing is to let your customers know about it. Last year, email marketing drove 20 percent of online holiday sales, so use it as a tool for promoting parties as well. Square’s email marketing software has your customer list baked in — whoever has recently purchased something with you is already in the system. What’s more, the tool segments your customers by loyal, casual, and lapsed, so if you want to just send your regular customers an invite to your VIP party, that’s easy to do.

Make sure your email is straightforward, with an enticing subject line like “Come party with us” or “You deserve a break.” The more personal the invitation feels, the better. Make sure you include the nuts and bolts in the email (like the time of the event and where it is), along with what’s on the docket (perhaps a local band or a prize raffle). And when people click through, make sure there’s a clear RSVP button on your landing page so you can track the invite list.

Promote it on social media

Start teasing your party with fun, festive visuals and compelling copy about party details. Incentivize customers to spread the word to their friends by creating a special hashtag and offering 20 percent off for sharing. Then come up with a creative hashtag for your party and keep the buzz going, encouraging attendees to post live at the event.

Pitch the press.

Many local media outlets run “holiday party roundups” this time of year. Get in contact with them (tips on how to pitch the press here) so your event is on their radar. When you email over the party details, make sure to include all the pertinent information in a short, digestible format (when, what, where, what’s being offered). If reporters have to sift through too much information, they’ll oftentimes gloss over your pitch.

Flyers and signage

For local businesses, paper flyers and signage are a tried-and-true method for generating awareness about events. Promote your party on your sidewalk signage and pin up paper flyers at neighboring businesses. You can even customize your Square receipts with information about your event.