Thursday, October 10, 2013

Host an Open House: Guest Blogger Lorelei Eurto

I've been hosting my own open house, right in my home, for about 4-5 years now. I started out inviting mostly just people from my work and my husband's work. Since I started, I have slowly invited more neighbors, and even some dedicated fans that would show up to my local shows.

My husband usually likes to stick around on Open House day, to tend the fire in the fireplace (great ambiance!) and also to chat up his fellow co-workers who might not know me that well.

You can always invite people through word of mouth- such as friends or neighbors.  Another way is to actually invest in some invitations. I create postcards using an image of one of my pieces from the current year, and on the back, I include details for the party.

Important info to include on your invite:

*what is it
*place: address
*what you'll be offering to eat, if anything
*if people can bring a guest
*include your email in case guests have questions

I usually plan my open house closer to the holidays. I've tried having in early October, but the shows in November/December have been better attended. Shoppers tend to do a bit more Christmas shopping during these months than earlier in the season.

When to send the invite out: I think it's smart to give people plenty of notice so that they can mark their calendars for your event but you don't want to send them too early that they misplace your invite or forget about it. I say send it out at least a month in advance.

It's always important to offer some kind of food at your Open house. I usually pick 2 savory snacks, and 2 sweet snacks and then offer up a variety of drinks. We've had non-alcoholic beverages and have also offered wine to guests depending on the time of day. I generally have my party on a Saturday, from 1-5 pm. People always like to snack after lunch and actually the snacks I serve can act as a lunch as well.

What's on the menu: Some of my favorite dishes are Chocolate Chip Zucchini bread, or cookies or Brownies. Some sort of dip for tortilla chips like a chicken wing dip or cheese and crackers. One year I offered up the leftover Halloween candy as one of the sweet treats!

I usually make my dining room table the food area, and take the chairs away and place them around the room in groupings so there is plenty of seating for guests when they are eating. 

Typically I invite about 50 people and suggest that everyone bring a guest. For this type of guest list, I usually make sure I offer a wide range of price ranges and have enough stock for about 2 tables.  Maybe about 100 pieces pieces in all, including earrings, Bracelets and Necklaces, and maybe even some rings.

My display doesn't look a whole lot different than it does for my other shows. It seems a little bit easier as I typically use my regular furniture to build my displays onto like the buffet in the dining room and sometimes my kitchen table.

 I set up a nice check-out table at my last year's event and that made things so much nicer when bagging up jewelry and writing up receipts.  I will definitely do this again!
It's smart to offer several payment methods. I accept cash, credit cards, or checks. 

I set up the tables in my family room last year just to switch it up a little bit. It got a little congested in this area though and was hard for people to see things, so I'll be moving the tables back into my dining room/living room for this year's event. You definitely want to keep a good flow so that people don't get stuck when trying to look at everything. I am lucky to have so much space and will probably try to utilize this more by setting up smaller displays all around the room instead of one big table of jewelry.

Another tip: Have people write down their email addresses on slips of paper and at the end of the event draw a random email to win a pair of earrings! This is also a great way to build a nice mailing list for a newsletter.

Also, I have offered a 10% off coupon on the invitation postcard, and they get the discount when the bring the card with them.

Have a question about running your own open house? Please feel free to leave your questions in the comments on this post! I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have. I know that running a successful open house can be a daunting task but it really can be such a fun event as long as you are organized and keep an open mind.


Kathy ~ Artful Accents said...

Great ideas! I always love to see how you set up your displays. They look so inviting and well organized.

A tip from me about open houses is that I "hire" a teenager to be in charge of the food and drinks, so that I can totally concentrate on jewelry. I pay her in jewelry when it's over! :-)

Gale said...

Great tips, especially about acquiring those email addresses! Thanks.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the good information. I'm going to host my first trunk show and have invited two others to participate with one. One sells pillows that she makes and the other sells various housewares. I'm not sure how to structure things with three people. One of us needs to be in the kitchen most likely. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Jenny said...

I'm wondering if you pay particular attention to what kind of mix you have, price-wise. It would be my inclination to try to have several inexpensive pieces, but I've also wondered whether that could work against me in some way.

TesoriTrovati said...

All great ideas, Miss Lorelei! I have always wanted to do an open house and this might be the year that it happens (provided I can get some pieces created!). I was thinking of joining up with my friend who does Mary Kay and maybe someone who does purses. Love your displays. They are clean, bright, intriguing - the perfect complement to your gorgeous jewelry! Thank you for sharing with us. Enjoy the day! Erin

Kristen said...

I did an open house twice and I did great! I did it on a Friday right after work and my sales were fantastic and everyone hung around and had a good time too. I felt very uncomfortable about it both times but it was worth it.

SummersStudio said...

Good tips! Great photos of the actual set up.

Becky Pancake said...

Lorelei,I love your displays. An open house wouldn't work for me but I enjoyed hearing about yours. You always have great suggestions.

Liona (Blue Merlin Creations) said...

I enjoyed your post, Lorelei! I've been hosting open houses in the fall for the past three or four years, and they always go over well. I'm hoping this will be my best year yet - I have a friend selling handmade cards, and my Mum makes beautiful crocheted pieces, so she'll be selling those, too, in addition to my own jewellery. It's a lot of work, but well worth it, and I know that the people attending always have a really nice time, which makes my day!

lynn said...

Thanks for the great ideas... Lynn