I know the leaves are just starting to change colors and it’s barely October, but I’m already in full-on holiday prep mode. I spent most of my Saturday planning out the pieces I want to offer at holiday markets, cutting fabric, and running over the JoAnn’s to stock up on more thread—because you can never have too much embroidery thread. And as I was in the middle of picking out thread colors, I thought about all of the things I’m doing to prep for the holidays and how it would be good to share. So here are a few things I’ve learned from the last few holiday seasons:
Embroidery is an art that needs a lot of lead time. Even though it’s only October, I’m already stitching away on ornaments. The holidays will be here before I know it. Heck, most of the time I think it’s still September… so I try to start planning and stitching my holiday items as early as possible. And really, it’s never too early to prep for the holidays, unless you’re a Scrooge.
Make a Plan
Part of my holiday prep includes making a plan. Some year’s it’s been a loose schedule and other times it’s a detailed calendar of items and dates. Because I’m handing both wholesale and retail orders, multiple holiday markets, and have some big partnerships in the works (more on that later) this year, I made a detailed calendar on what I need to make and by when. Sometimes this makes me feel like an embroidery factory, but it’s definitely helped kick my productivity into overdrive, not get distracted, and stay on track.
The holidays are a time when people buy all the things. So whether you’re doing markets, consignment, pop ups or online sales, make more items than you think you’ll need. Having more stock on hand, definitely helps me feel less stressed during the holiday season and helps me to focus on markets, shipping orders, and actually enjoying the holidays with my family.
Custom Orders or Ready-Made?
Because the holidays can be so hectic, I’ve decided to only offer ready-made items this year. The past few holiday seasons have taught me that this is easier. In years past, I have taken custom orders. I love seeing what special requests customers ask for and being able to bring them to life. Custom orders make a unique and special gift, however, they can also add an extra level of stress and complication during an already busy time of year. This is my experience, and do what works best for you.
Don’t Take On More Than You Can Handle
Really, I should listen to my own advice on this one. Every year I think, “Oh I have time to add that to my list,” and the next thing you know I’m stressed out, cancelling plans and up all hours of the night stitching. Don’t be like me. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. Remember, you can’t be or do all the things, no matter how much you’d like to. As a small business owner, whose small business is a side business, I battle with this all the time.
It’s Ok to Say “No.”
It sucks to have to say “no” to someone, but many people who don’t embroider, don’t realize how long pieces can take to complete. Last year, I offered custom pet portraits during the holidays. I quickly found this to be a mistake. Even though I clearly stated how long pieces would take to make and when custom orders were closed, I still had people asking me if I could take their custom pet portrait order the week of Christmas. Yes, I felt bad having to tell people no and yes, I had some grumpy people, but embroidery takes time and pet portraits even more so. So remember it’s ok to say “no” and don’t feel bad when you have to say it. You know you and what you can do.
These six tips might seem simple, and they are, but I’ve found them to be helpful in my holiday prep. I hope they’re helpful to you as well and lead you to a successful holiday season!