Friday, October 11, 2013

Making A (To Do) List and Checking It Twice

There are only 74 more days until Christmas according to the Countdown to Christmas widget at the bottom of my blog.  Yikes!!

Although I'm behind on my inventory build-up plans thanks to a flood of custom orders (for which I am very grateful BTW), I have not totally spaced off holiday preparations.  Experience is the best teacher, and I've learned a lesson or two from past holiday rushes.

1)  Make a To Do List and Check It Twice

Like Santa, I'll be makin' a list and checkin' it twice, but not to find out who's naughty and nice.  I'll be revising that list as things like unexpectedly large custom orders force me to abandon Plan A and adapt to Plan B.  A long-range list sets goals for inventory increases (current best sellers) and new product launches (when I get my embroidery machine out of the box).  The daily lists break those goals into more manageable chunks (at least in theory).

I've started using a TODAY To Do List created by Valerie William of Every Day Inspired, both in my Etsy business and at my day job at The Quilted Kitty quilt shop.   I love how the list prioritizes tasks, and has separate sections for appointments, ideas, notes, and even doodles.

2)  Stock Up on Shipping and Packaging Supplies

The UPS man has become friends with my hubby after all the deliveries we had last week!

Those boxes are just a sampling of my recent stock-up efforts.  There are two large bolts of Insul-Bright heat resistant batting that I use in my oven mitts (still far and away my biggest sellers).  There is also a box of packaging bags, and another box of Tyvec mailing envelopes.  On the top of the pile is a box of 45 composition books which will be used to fulfill one of my custom orders for 48 fabric-covered journals.

Next on the stock up list will be holiday-themed tissue, ribbon, and gift tags for last minute shoppers who request gift wrapping.

3)  Stock Up on Materials Used to Create Your Items

In my primary Etsy shop, Pasque Flower Creations, I sell handmade fun and functional fabric items.  For my best-selling items, I need Insul-Bright batting, Warm & Natural batting, cotton flannel, which needs to be preshrunk, and lots and lots and lots of thread -- and sewing machine needles.  So--when I have coupons or I can find these items on sale, I stock up.  Starting next week I'll be having a private Cut-A-Thon, cutting out lots and lots and lots of oven mitt components, so that even if I don't hit my RTS goal, I can reduce the time it takes to crank out a made-to-order item.

4)  Consider Christmas Promotions

Frankly, I've had lousy results with Christmas in July and Black Friday promotions, but I'll renew items, increase my Facebook postings, and actively create and promote treasuries.  I may offer a coupon code for Cyber Monday, but I fear it will get lost in the flood of other sellers doing the same thing.

5)  Revise Tags and Add Some Seasonal Items

I'll try to change my tags to be Christmas shopper friendlier.  (If I were a frantic shopper, what would I type in the Search box?)   Where possible, I'll tag to capitalize on Etsy trending items -- like monograms, steampunk (I have some great key fobs in process that would definitely fit this category), and I'll be adding more stocking stuffers / teacher gift / Secret Santa items in late November, I hope.  I'll also review shipping charges in my listings.  I grossly underestimated postage costs on an order heading to Autralia this week. That was a timely wake up call.

6)  Don't Burn the Advent Candle at Both Ends

The last thing I need is to burn out by mid-December.  So I'll attempt to keep eating healthy foods, exercise, and get enough sleep (or at least reduce the number of all-nighters this year).  I always take elderberry during tax season to try to fend off colds and flu, but I'm going to take it during the holiday rush this year, too.

And in addition to my physical health, I'll try to be mindful of my emotional and spiritual health during the stressful weeks from mid-November through New Years.  I'm not just an Etsian. I'm also an employee, a contractor, a tax pro with pre-season training requirements to be met, and most importantly, a wife, mom, grandma and Sunday School team teacher.

So I need to remind myself that the reason for the season is not measured on the bottom line of a financial spreadsheet or even in Etsy Shop Stats -- it's measured in intangible units of love, hope and peace.

How are you gearing up for the holidays?



  1. Great advice, LeAnn!
    I've learned from experience to stock up on packaging materials. I have hundreds of envelopes and boxes and they take up so much space! But with the Xmas rush they are necessary!
    Good idea to pre-cut your oven mitts!
    Good luck with everything this week :)

  2. Yes, absolutely stock up on shipping supplies. The one thing I never seem to order enough of is tape. And then I have to rush to the store in the middle of packing up orders. Sigh...

    Good luck with your extra busy season! :-)

    1. Glad you stopped by ... I need to add tape to my list :-). Enjoy your weekend.

  3. wow! You ARE so organized!
    I'm going to check out that To Do List ---and elderberry.

  4. You certainly do have a plan! I also have one. I plan to continue creating for Christmas until I quit my job next month. After that I'll start designing for Valentine's and Easter. I have actually drawn up a month by month goals and projections list. It will be easier when I'm not working at the clinic anymore.

    1. Woo!Hoo! Congrats on being able to quit your day job. You are so SUPER-organized. I, on the other hand, had to take on another day job.

  5. Great list of helpful tips! Those UPS men must love us...I had 3 visits this week :)
    Great tip about remembering our mental and physical well-being too!