We are well into November and skeleton motifs have been swapped out for decorations featuring autumnal leaves, turkeys, and cornucopias. In another blink of an eye, dreidels, reindeer, and fir trees will abound. And before you know it, we’re talking New Year’s Resolutions. Ladies and gentlemen, the holiday season is upon us!

Current projections for this year’s holiday spending look promising. Consumers say they will spend an average of $1,007.24 during the holiday season this year, which is up 4.1 percent from last year. Also, non-gift holiday items such as food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards rank second in the three main categories shoppers will spend on during the holiday season. In addition to the increase in expected gift giving, surveys show that half of consumers shop for themselves while shopping for others.

Between farmers’ markets, special holiday events, online sales and wholesale orders, there are lots of opportunities to pull in some serious revenue before the year is up, but you’ve got to be prepared!

Get your team in gear

Before the holiday madness begins, get your team fired up and ready to go. Figure out staff schedules early to avoid last minute conflicts or understaffing. Ensure seasonal employees are well informed on your products and up to speed on holiday pricing or promotions. For special one-off holiday events, double-check that your team is clear on the event details.

Knowledgeable and reliable employees are invaluable, especially during the busy holiday season. Don’t forget to thank your team for their hard work. A small gift, holiday party, or even a simple card can show your employees how much they mean to you. Remember: Santa couldn’t make Christmas happen without his elves!

Take inventory and check it twice

One of the most daunting aspects of holiday prep is inventory. The last thing you want is to run out of product with two weeks left in the season, especially because shopping skews late with 54% of shopping completed after December 1st. However, many small food producers can’t afford to end up with tons of unsold product either.

Before doing a massive production run, eye your records from last year closely. Make note of any changes such as new products, special events, promotions, and advertising efforts. If your record-keeping is lacking, make your best educated guess and keep better track this season so you have data you can rely on for 2019! (For record-keeping inspiration, listen to our episode of Tent Talk with Maya Madsen!) 

Holiday specials are special

Around the holidays most businesses offer discounts and promotions. And many shoppers expect holiday deals. Don’t assume you have to slash prices to make your customers happy, though. Offering free gift wrap, discounted shipping, or a free item with purchase can be enough to spark a shopper’s interest. Just be sure to budget for your holiday promotions. 

There are many different ways to promote your holiday specials whether it be the traditional Black Friday sale, Small Business Saturday, or Cyber Monday. Social media has become a hotbed for flash sales and giveaways. If you are offering a discount of some sort, share it widely with your network via your social media accounts and e-newsletters. Also, pairing with other small businesses to do a cross-promotional giveaway can reduce the burden of cost and help grow your customer base.

Good tidings to you, wherever you are

Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Festivus, or just rejoicing the end of the election cycle, there are many reasons to celebrate this time of year. And if you fall closer to the Grinch-end of the spectrum, that’s ok. Focus on connecting with your customers and demonstrating that your product makes for the perfect gift. Express your own holiday cheer, whatever that may be!

There are many ways to spread merriment, no matter what walk of life you come from. Decorate your farmers’ market booth with garlands. Offer seasonal value-added items like wreaths or gourds. Develop new products with seasonal flavors or holiday-themed items. Lighten the shopping burden by bundling products into gift sets or providing gift wrapping.

Small food producers have the chance to make the holiday season profitable as well as memorable for shoppers. It just requires some forethought. Who knows, your product may become part of a holiday family tradition!

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