How to Plan a Handmade Christmas Market
I didn't think it was possible, but River & Wren Boutique Market's December Christmas Market was even more fabulous than our November Christmas Market!!
I'm often asked how I put together a market that is embraced not only by our local community but attracts people from all over our region.
Running a successful Christmas Market requires planning ... and lots of it!:
(1) Plan the date well in advance
Think carefully about the date of the market. Think about the habits of Christmas shoppers. When would be the best time to run a Christmas market in your town? A month before Christmas Day, two weeks, a week before Christmas? Maybe two months before Christmas? Keep in mind what else is being held in your local area on the date of your proposed Christmas Market.
River & Wren runs two Christmas Markets - the first market is held on the second Sunday in November (6 weeks before Christmas) for the early Christmas shoppers and the second market is held on the second Sunday in December (2 weeks before Christmas) for the last minute Christmas shoppers.
(2) Promote, promote, promote
If people don't know about your market, they can't come! Advertise your market as widely as possible. Decide on a marketing budget and use it to promote the market to as wide an audience as possible.
One of the many ways River & Wren promotes its markets - a large banner on the fence of the market venue.
(3) Chose a wide selection of stall holders
As a handmade Christmas Market we curate our market to ensure we have a diverse range of high quality handmade, homemade and homegrown products. Our December Christmas Market had 111 market shops selling a wonderful variety of locally made handmade products. We could easily have had another 20 shops had we been able to accept all applications.
(4) Embrace the Christmas theme
Encourage stall holders to embrace the Christmas theme and decorate their shops with Christmas decorations and offer Christmas specials.
We didn't have a Santa at either of our Christmas markets, but Santa would be a fabulous asset to some markets.
Pink Paddock Store decorated their shop with a little Christmas tree decorated with Billy Buttons! Beautiful .... and fitted our market perfectly.
(5) Market Food
Ensure that there is plenty of market food available for customers to eat at the market.
(6) Coffee, coffee and coffee
Our market customers love to wander through the market with a coffee (or cup of tea!) in their hand. It must help with the purchasing process! Of course, during summer cold drinks are just as important, and we were lucky to be able to offer freshly squeezed orange juice at our December Christmas Market.
(7) Run a competition
Obviously not essential, but we ran a Christmas Hamper Competition in the lead up to our Christmas Market and it was a HUGE success. Our very generous makers, bakers and growers donated their products and we made up four hampers to giveaway to our winners! I would have loved to win a hamper myself! But didn't think that would have been a good look .....
(8) Market Atmosphere
A market is not just an opportunity to shop. It is an opportunity for the community to enjoy a day out with family and friends while enjoying market entertainment and watching their children play on the jumping castle and having their faces painted.
We've worked hard to build a market where the community comes together for a relaxed, fun and happy day. I love watching our market visitors run into friends at the market. They stop and chat and often decide to share an impromptu morning tea or lunch in our Market Cafe!
We are an indoor market and are known for our beautiful seemingly miles of handmade floral bunting that we hang in the Hall. Our colourful outdoor bunting also draws passers by into the market.
(9) Order lovely weather
Put in your order for fine market weather!
(10) Support a Local Charity or Cause
Promote a local charity or cause that helps people in need during the Christmas period. River & Wren's Christmas Market supported the local branch of the Australian charity Share the Dignity, who were running their It's in the Bag campaign. This campaign asked the community to donate unwanted handbags filled with personal items that were given to local women in need as Christmas presents. The campaign resonated with our community and we collected well over 500 bags! We had so much fun with this campaign that we'll do it again next year!
(11) Don't try to be All Things to All People
Stick to your market ethos and don't try to be all things to all people. River & Wren is a handmade market that caters for people who appreciate good quality handmade, homemade and homegrown products. Your market may be a farmers market, a flea market, a bazaar or clothing market.
(12) Be Original
This should go without saying, but make sure that your market is original. Don't try to copy what another market is already doing well in your area.
(13) Love your Market
And lastly, but by no means least - LOVE YOUR MARKET! It will show!
This plan can obviously be used for organising any market throughout the year, but as we've just had Christmas, using our Christmas Market as an example seemed a good idea!
Are you a market manager or organiser? Do you have any other tips to help plan a successful Christmas Market?