There’s no reason to dread the holidays, but it’s easy to get anxious if you’re feeling a bit under prepared. Gain confidence to close out a successful 2015 by taking a step back and planning ahead. If you start thinking about these things today, you can make that final push to the end of the year with ease. And in case you start to feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s almost 2016!

What Happened Last Year?

There’s no better way to predict what’s to come than analyzing your transaction data from the same time last year. If you can pre-order items, do it now and get enough inventory in house before you’re slammed! Don’t forget about wrapping paper, packaging and greeting cards.

Greeting Card Mania

Don't wait until the day-of to fill out your greeting cards for loyal customers, vendors and employees. Use your down time now to personalize, address and stamp – you can drop them in the mail closer to the holidays. One of our personal favorite are New Year’s cards with blank spaces on them so recipients can fill out their resolutions.

Work the Press

Push holiday wares on your social channels. If you’re having an event, write up a quick press release and send it to local bloggers or a newspaper reporter that covers the type of business you run. If you’re asking someone else to write about you, make sure what you’re up to is creative, and then follow up with a phone call. Always post your news on your website and social channels, plus email your customers so they can share in the excitement.

Create a Holiday Promotion

Use the social, email or blog channels you’ve already implemented. Offer a discount code or BOGO offer for your loyal customers to incentivize them to return during the holidays. 

Update Your Website

Add some holiday flair to your normal images for your website, social channels or online stores. Get creative! If you aren’t sure what to do, check out some of your favorite brands for ideas. A good percentage of consumers buy holiday gifts directly from their phones. Make sure your site and shop is mobile friendly so you don’t lose out on on-the-go sales.  Also, don’t forget to update your holiday business times if they are changing.

Save Time on Your Books

Eliminate manual data entry from your point of sale or online storefront to your accounting software. You could save hours each week by signing up for Commerce Sync and eliminating manual data entry. And since Commerce Sync transfers your daily sales information directly to QuickBooks or Xero, you can run reports with the most up-to-date data and monitor the health of your business throughout the holiday season.

Thank Your Employees

Sometimes holiday parties conflict with day-to-day life, so consider hosting your holiday party or offering end of year thank-you gifts before the big rush. This can remind your employees (or yourself, if you’re a one-person shop) that everyone is doing a great job. 

Take Time to Relax

There’s never enough holiday cheer to lift up a tired business owner, so make time for yourself. Schedule at least an hour a week for self-care. Take yourself out to dinner, turn off your phone, watch a movie or get a massage. 

Start a Holiday List for Next Year

As you bustle through the end of 2015, keep a list handy for the things you wish you had thought of. What did you do well? How could you improve? When the glitter and candy canes settle, you’ll have time to reflect and be that more prepared for next year.

And finally, here’s a list of key holidays through 2015 to help you stay on top of things!

November 26 - Thanksgiving (U.S.)

November 27 - Black Friday (U.S.)

November 28 - Small Business Saturday (U.S.)

November 29 - Advent begins

November 30- Cyber or Mega Monday (U.S./United Kingdom/Canada/Australia) Cyber Monday extends to Tuesday in Australia

December 5 - St. Nicholas’ Eve (Europe)

December 6 - St. Nicholas’ Day (Europe)

December 6 - Hanukkah begins

December 24 - Christmas Eve

December 25 - Christmas Day

December 26 - Kwanzaa Begins

December 26 - Boxing Day (U.S./UK/Canada/Australia)

December 31 - New Year’s Eve

January 1 - New Year’s Day