In your industry, it's always the season of making lists and checking them twice. To help prepare for the busy holiday season ahead, we’ve created a holiday checklist with a few ideas to ensure it’s the most wonderful (and successful) time of year for you and your employees.

1.    Mark and take advantage of more holidays.

Sending communications and creating deals around more special days than the handful of obvious ones is a great way to draw in more customers. Here are some upcoming holidays for small businesses to have on their calendars.

  • Thanksgiving: November 23, 2023
  • Black Friday: November 24, 2023
  • Small Business Saturday:November 25, 2023
  • Cyber Monday: November 27, 2023
  • Hanukkah Begins: December 7, 2023
  • Winter Solstice: December 21, 2023
  • Christmas: December 25, 2023
  • Kwanzaa Begins: December 26, 2023
  • New Year's Day: January 1, 2024
  • Blue Monday: January 15, 2024
  • Black History Month: February 1–March 1, 2024
  • Groundhog Day: February 2, 2024
  • Super Bowl: February 4, 2024
  • Chinese New Year: February 4, 2024
  • Mardi Gras: February 13, 2024
  • Valentine's Day: February 14, 2024
  • Love Your Pet Day: February 20, 2024
  • International Women's Day: March 8, 2024
  • St. Patrick’s Day: March 17, 2024

You can also lean into niche "National Days" that relate to your business offerings. "National Bacon Day" on December 30, for example, is great for a breakfast spot! This fun tactic creates a "today only" urgency and makes a product or service feel extra enticing.

2.    Determine what type of shoppers you want to attract

From early bird to last-minute, there are a lot of different types of shoppers – especially during the holidays. Calling them out in your communications will pull them in like Santa to a hot tray of cookies. Here are a few shopper types to keep in mind as you market.

  • Early-bird shoppers
  • Deal hunters
  • Shoppers looking for someone else
  • Shoppers looking to treat themselves
  • First-timers
  • Regulars
  • Last-minute shoppers

An email highlighting "Early-bird discounts" or a table with themed gift ideas and supporting signage such as "For the fa-la-la-la fitness lovers" are great ways to cater to specific types of shoppers. Consider segmenting your email lists to narrow in on a shopping type even further. For example, you could create an email list of regulars and send them a special VIP holiday discount as a thank you for frequenting your business.

Extra points if you schedule your social posts and emails in advance to help save time and relieve stress later. Sprout Social is a great resource to preschedule social posts and even see how your posts are performing.

3.    Update and communicate your holiday hours

Sure, this might seem obvious, but you likely have your store hours posted on more than what's coming to your mind. Here are some places to consider refreshing if your hours have changed.

  • Storefront signage
  • Your website
  • Social media accounts
  • Google
  • Email signatures
  • Phone trees
  • Review sites

If you will be open later or plan to close for a couple of days, make sure to communicate that in advance. Nothing says Ebenezer Scrooge like someone showing up at your store because you said you were open but you're not.

4.    Get your staff's holiday availability early

Set a deadline for time-off requests and set expectations for this specific season. Getting everyone's holiday availability sooner will help to ensure you don't get burned on coverage. It will also let you see how many seasonal workers you need to hire and what days you need them to be available.

5.    Hire extra help

Hiring seasonal staff in advance will give you access to the highest-quality workers, fill staffing holes and allow for more training time. Check out our blog for tips on attracting seasonal staff.

6.    Show gratitude to your employees

While we're on the topic of employees, a gesture of appreciation can really go a long way for your company culture – especially this time of year. Here are a few ideas for thanking your employees.

  • A holiday party or special meal
  • A holiday bonus or gift
  • An extra percentage off your products or services
  • A handwritten thank-you card

It doesn't have to be expensive to be thoughtful. Though your holiday season can feel as chaotic as a snow globe turned upside down, your employees are who turn it right side up again and again. Showing your gratitude and bringing employees together will likely inspire them to keep on keeping on.

7.    Decorate your storefront, website AND socials for the holidays

Whether people walk by your store, visit your website or follow you on social, you can really pull on their emotional buying heartstrings by creating a holiday atmosphere. Here are some prompts to set the mood.

  • Extra outdoor lighting, displays and signage
  • Indoor decorations, music, temperature, aromas, free samples and seasonal product displays
  • Seating and games for tiny helpers who may be tagging along
  • Holiday social and email templates
  • Holiday designs or special features on your landing page

It's also smart to cross-market these efforts. Showing your spirited storefront off on social will make the "onliners" want to shop in-store. Promoting a special percentage off in-store only when customers show an associate that they follow the business' social account is a great way to reach more people online down the road.

8.    Stock up on inventory and supplies

Taking time to organize and restock will be well worth it when you're bustling. Consider this your sign to order up! We're talking:

  • Extra inventory that's easily accessible
  • Snacks and amenities for staff shifts
  • Office supplies like scissors, tape and writing utensils
  • Organizational materials like labels, hangers and storage bins
  • Shipping gear like boxes, packing tape, ink and labels
  • Tools like nails, a hammer and box cutters
  • Snow gear like gloves, shovels, salt and boots
  • Shopping bags and to-go containers
  • Amenities like soap, paper towels, toilet paper, napkins and garbage bags
  • Branded gift cards, business cards and coupons
  • Special gift wrapping

Checking your orders from last year is a great starting point on estimating how much to order. And if you know you'll use it eventually, better safe than sorry, right? Avoid the stress – and rush shipping costs!

9.    Make time for you

When you're juggling running a business and spending time with family during the holidays, it may feel impossible to relax. Consider booking something right now for after the holiday season that is just for you. It can be as extravagant as a trip or as simple as an hour-long massage. This will give you something to look forward to in the thick of the madness. And, of course, take all the "me-time" moments you can throughout these next few months. You deserve time to recuperate, and your business will be better for it.

Have any more tips to prevent small business owners from being a snowball of stress during the holidays? We'd love for you to DM us on Insta @mandt_spotlightshop!

Let's sleigh this season!


The content of this page is for informational purposes only. It is not designed or intended to provide financial, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. Please consult with the professionals of your choice to discuss your situation.