Learn from my Mistakes: How to Prepare for the 2021 Holiday Season
2020 was my first “real” holiday season as a tumbler maker, and let me tell you – I learned fairly quickly how crazy, hectic and stressful it can get. So, I am going to share some tips and advice with you so you are better prepared for this upcoming holiday season.
Tip #1: Start Making Your Audience/Customers Think of Christmas/Holiday Gift Buying
If you’re like me, you are amazon shopping for gifts a week before Christmas. I am always ast minute and I get so busy that I really don’t sit down and start crossing things off my list until mid-December. Start talking to your customers on your platforms about gifts for their loved ones. Whether you sell epoxy custom tumblers, t-shirts, soaps, candles, or anything else handcrafted, start pushing products as gifts for loved ones. “Do you have a brother, husband or dad that loves fishing? Check out this cool fishing lure tumbler that they love!”. This begins putting the thoughts in their head that it is time to start Christmas shopping. Plant the seed.
Tip #2: Plan Out Your Deadlines & Your Maximum Order Intake
You need to set a deadline of the following:
- The date you stop taking orders for Christmas
- The date you ship orders at the latest to make it on time for Christmas
- The date you will start taking orders that are specifically for Christmas
Some other things you need to factor into this and make your customers aware of are your turnaround time for Christmas orders and the maximum number of orders you can take on before you are overwhelmed. For example, I originally planned to stop taking Christmas orders by the 2nd to last week of November last year. By November 1st, I had taken so many orders in, I knew if I began to take any more on, I would have been overwhelmed and possibly would not have gotten products and orders mailed on time. So when you do post your deadlines to your audience, make sure that you are also adding in a disclaimer that these dates can change at any time. With this being said, also consider your turnaroundtime. If you are not selling ready to ship items, have a general turn around time. For example, for my custom tumblers, I did not give the typical 4-6 week turnaround time. I told my customers that any orders placed for Christmas would ship no later than X date. This was so I could work on orders without overstressing when orders were placed. I can finish easier cups first and get them out of the way to work on the harder stuff as well as take breaks as needed.
Tip #3: Set Boundaries & Stick to them
When setting deadlines, make sure you know your limits. Do not take on more orders than you can handle. It is OK TO SAY NO! You are allowed to pause your order intake. You are allowed to say no. I guarantee that you are going to have people requesting to place an order well past your deadline up until the day before Christmas, and as someone who is also a people pleaser, do not overwhelm and stress YOURSELF out because people do not take your time into consideration and try and place orders last minute. SOMEONE ELSE’S POOR TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS ARE NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Now the second part to this is STICK TO IT. Do not bend do not break. This is not only vital to your overall business and wellbeing but also important to let your customers know that they need to respect your business, time, policies and deadlines.
Tip #4: Start Prepping Products Now
If you are a mainly custom hand-crafted shop, I suggest prepping some ready to ship items for those last minute shoppers. While they may not be able to get anything custom (or depending on when they order, delivered to them in time for Christmas), you still have some options available.
Product prep also involves pictures, promotions, mock-ups, etc. When doing custom orders for the holiday season, it can get hard to post certain content on your socials due to specific details that may spoil the surprise of holiday gifts. Take product photos now to release during the time you may not have content readily available due to not being able to post, or even you just being busy.
Plus, if you know what products sell well during the holiday season, make sure you have good photos to post to promote these products. This way you do not have to wait for someone to order it prior.
Tip #5: Figure Out the Shipping Situation before You’re Overwhelmed with “Where’s my package?” emails.
One of the most time-consuming things that can happen during the holiday season is responding to emails from customers of them asking where their package is after you ship it. So follow these steps to make shipping season a little bit easier:
- Set your shipping deadline – the deadlines you will ship all Christmas orders by (I recommend NO LATER than the 10th of December)
- Know your shipping service – I personally will only be shipping UPS starting October 1 and until mid-January. USPS gets too chaotic during the holiday season and so many packages don’t get scanned, get lost, etc. etc.
- Let your customers know your shipping service
- Recommend extra shipping insurance (like Route+ if you have a Shopify store)
- Post instructions for your customers to follow if they have questions about their shipping progress. This can include how to file claims, how to contact you for questions, how to receive tracking notifications, etc.
Below I have included some free graphics for you to use on social media!
Tip #6: Prepare & Stock Up – Responsibly
Don’t risk running out of product, stock, supplies and materials in the midst of creating orders. Not only will shipping begin slowing down (really starting now) for your orders, but also for companies who supply small crafting businesses with materials. Don’t overextend your budget, but slowly start building up small items that you think you may run out of now. Set aside some funds to stock up during black Friday sales.
This also includes your shipping supplies, whether you purchase them or use the free supplies from USPS, you need to start stocking now so you do not run out of supplies come time to ship your Christmas/holiday orders.
Tip #7: Self-Care
Breathe. Trust me. Things happen, I get it. I spent countless nights staying up until 2-3am finishing up orders. I ended up shipping a little bit past my intended deadline. I had customers emailing me constantly about where their order was after it shipped. I was stressed and put my own life on the backburner. I didn’t decorate for Christmas. I didn’t prep early as usually for the holiday meal I cook for my family and friends.
Take a break. Spend time with your family. Your business and customers are important, but so are you. So make sure you are putting yourself into the priority category.
Click here to download your free graphics!
Thank you for this valuable information.
Thank you for the info. This is my first holiday season hope it’s successful!
Thank you for this great Info!!!
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