September 27, 2011

Plan your own Open House




 Last week I sat down and picked my date for this year's Open House. This will be the 4th? year I've had one. Maybe it's the 3rd year, I dunno. Anyway, I can't imagine not doing one but it's important that I plan it for a good time, with plenty of space between the show I just did, and the Winter show at the Jewish Temple. So this year I picked November 5th. Just before the real Christmas shopping gets under way.  I like having this event around the holidays because it's easy to decorate! I have had the open house in October and can decorate for Halloween/Fall which is fun. November will maintain the Fall/Harvest decor.

 These photos show last years Open house which was in December. Lots of Christmas decorations, including our tree.  I am very excited for my new displays, these displays from last year look so flat to me! That's the cool part, I am always trying to improve my display and so people never see the same set up each year they come. Always something interesting and different.

Once you have established your date, order some postcard invites. I use Moo.com for mine, and usually add a nice picture of my jewelry to one side, and the details on the other.  Order them in plenty of time though- you want to hand those invites out as soon as you can as people tend to have busy schedules in the colder months.

 Who to invite?  I have a good situation because of my regular full time job, so I hand out most of my invitations to co-workers at the museum. I also send some invites with Joe to hand out to his fellow teachers, and I invite some local friends. I usually order about 40 invitations. I get about 20-30 people at my open house on average.  There have been times I have handed out invites while at the Jewish temple show, if my open house is after this event. But then you run the risk of total strangers coming to your home and that can be kind of a scary thing. I did give my open house info to 2 ladies I met at the Harvest Festival who live in my home town. Unfortunately I had to write the info on a scrap of paper because my invites haven't arrived yet.
 I think it's good to stick to people you know, and encourage people to bring a friend. In the past I have offered a small discount if they bring someone.

What to feed your guests:  I try not to go nuts with this aspect of the event because it can be stressful enough just getting the jewelry made, and set up. I offer several types of drinks, coffee, soda, and the first time last year, I offered wine. I generally always make a chocolate chip zuchini bread, some sort of savory snack like the Smoked Gouda/Artichoke baguette, chips and salsa,  or chips and dips. People do snack a little while they're there, but I generally always have food leftover. Make something you really like so that the leftovers aren't a hassle to have. :)

I plan my open house for about 4 hours, generally in the afternoon from 1-5pm.  I think you could also do one in the morning like 10-2 - some people are early birds. And an evening show like 4-8 would be a good time too, with different lighting. I have poor lighting in my house so the 1-5 works out perfectly for me.

I hope these tips were helpful for you and that you consider having an event like this too. It's really a good time, you get to chat with people and see their reactions to your designs, and provide them with a comfortable shopping experience. I know they'll keep coming back year after year!

17 comments:

  1. I get together with a friend and host a couple shows a year. We live in a very small town and send out about 200 invites and maybe get 40 people--if we're lucky. Timing on sending the invite is a struggle for me. Send it too early and they forget or misplace the invite. Send it too close to the date and they already have something planned.

    We like to serve food, but there's always someone who eats over the displays which has me cringing.

    The economy has really hit hard in this little town so we haven't done any shows this year. Our last one the year before brought in only a handfull of people. Very disappointing. I'm hoping to try again just before the holidays and see what happens.

    Your displays are lovely. I'd love to find a window like yours. I'm running out of storage for all my props and displays. Hubby grumbles a lot about that.....

    Thanks for the tips!

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  2. Lorelei, what an awesome post with some great thoughts and tips! I'm trying right now to decide if I should do an open house, so this is quite helpful. And of course, full of lovely eye candy ;)

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  3. I've been thinking about having an open house for many years - maybe this is the year! Wish we lived closer so I could come to yours!

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  4. LOVE this post ~ great tips. And beautiful displays!!

    Ironically, yesterday I was just planning a trunk show with a couple of friends, too. We were mulling over what food to make and were curious to know more about the artichoke-gouda-baguette creation you mention ... can you share the recipe?

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  5. Thank you Lorelei for taking the time to write about this. Sharing your personal experience makes it seem a lot more fun and less of a daunting idea!

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  6. Some great ideas here!

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  7. i've participated in xmas open houses where several artists displayed together, we combined mailing lists,it was always fun. we got our food offerings from costco..their bake at home cookie dough was great, just like homemade without the mess..a gallery owner friend gets the most fabulous chocolate candy from there for her openings..
    thanks for sharing these good tips.
    i'm having weird things with blog posting..sorry if this shows up several times

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  8. Thank you Lorilie for some really good tips. I have decided to do an open house the first weekend in December and these tip came at the right time for me.
    Therese

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  9. Thanks for the tips. I've hosted open houses in the past and always end up with way too much food. I'm definitely going to cut back on that this year. By the way, I LOVE your displays. Very unique!!

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  10. This is just wonderful, and the ideas you present are very helpful! I hope to do this someday soon, and honestly love your displays. I remember when you got that stained glass window to use and thought - this is someone I wish I could visit to see all this in person! (unfortunately we're too far apart)

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  11. I am so glad I popped over today! I do an Open House every year too, but I was always missing something... I think getting Postcard invited was JUST the thing I was missing! You are a brilliant lady! ;)
    I have a great recipe for a Gingerbread style cake, super easy and really delish, let me know if you are interested ;)

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  12. Anonymous9/27/2011

    This was fantastic info Lorelei, thanks so much.

    Cathy Obbema

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  13. Great post, Lorelei! I did my first home party last spring and was amazed at how well it went. It was a small group show at my house. In addition to my jewelry, I had a lampwork artist, handmade soaps, and my daughter's metalsmithed jewelry. We are planning to do this again for the holidays. I was interested to read what date you have picked, as I was trying to figure out when we should have ours.

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  14. Thank you for the helpful advise. I have already schedualed my jewelry party. I am inspired by your beautiful displays from last year and your recent craft show. :)

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  15. This is a great post full of really useful tip. I like your previous displays but I see your new linen ones mixed into this kind of layout. Than you for sharing all f this!

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  16. Thanks for the great post, Lorelei!

    I have just started making jewelry (didn't know what a jumpring was before March of this year!), and am planning an open house some time in December. First time ever...I have never even been to one, so this is realllly good info for me.

    One thing I keep wondering about is how many jewelry pieces I should put up for display...I mean what's the minimum? So far I have about 20 pairs of earrings and about 12 sets (necklace+earrings) made. These obviously won't be enough, but need to set a goal.

    Thanks!
    Kashmira

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