Party Panache, Hosting a Home Show

Do you ever go to home shows?  Have you ever hosted one?  Whether you are a guest, hostess or vendor they can be so much fun!

Last weekend I participated in a home show at a good friend’s AMAZING house.  I didn’t take photos of the outside so use your imagination here.  The driveway is actually a land bridge with a beautiful lake on either side and you drive by flowering rose bushes to a circular stone drive that could park about 20 cars.  No one had to park though, her husband valet parked the cars! The house is almost completely surrounded by water and it’s a little mini private island retreat, with every amenity you can imagine. I am always thrilled to be invited to their home.

I have been doing these types of shows for over 10 years now and I’d love to share some tips with you in case you are thinking about doing this.

I think some dos and don’t might help here…


SEND INVITATIONS: a CUTE  invitation with a map and key information is worth the cost of postage.  This investment will pay off in increased attendance.  Stress how great this event is going to be and make it so!  Your friends will feel like they are invited to a party and they will want to come!

LOCATION: Choose a location that is easy to find, has plenty of SPACE, and that has ample parking and easy access

DATE: Check the calendar for any conflicts that might affect your turnout…a big football game, [you Southerners KNOW what I mean] graduation, holidays, vacation.  You don’t want to plan a home show when no one can come!  The best attended home shows around here [Birmingham Al] are generally in late Oct., November and the first few days in December.  Catch shoppers before they start becoming frazzled with shopping and holiday parties…

Meet Miss “Holly Day Stress” you don’t want your guests feeling like her! Screaming in shopping frustration!

WELCOME:  You want your customers to feel welcome so treat them like an invited guest.  Provide a place for coats if necessary, and it’s nice if someone stays near the door to greet people as they arrive and thank them for coming as they leave.

This festive fall arrangement was a welcoming site to guests as they arrived at the recent Fall Show.

INCENTIVES:  Offer your customers some incentives!  Have door prizes.  Offer show specials or package deals, buy 1 get one $5 off.  Shoppers love coupons and deals so grab their attention and offer them something.  They will be excited, they will buy and you will sell!

This is the table where the door prizes are starting to accumulate in the foyer.  Each seller was asked to donate something and we had a drawing every 15 minutes.  When names were drawn they were announced for all to hear and the gift was delivered to the lucky winner. It was exciting!

REFRESHMENTS:  Pamper your guests with all kinds of nibbles.  Nothing messy, and everything in a mini bite size.  I am not a fan of large bowls of communal food like candy or nuts that everyone puts their hand in, it’s just not sanitary.  Instead have wrapped candies or small bites in mini cupcake papers. Think trays of canapes and finger sandwiches.  You will be amazed at what people will eat!  Even better if guests can taste samples of what is being sold, or see it used in serving or preparation.  Make sure you have napkins!  Ask participants to either kick in some $, or charge everyone a small fee to cover refreshments.

We were lucky enough to have Tastefully Simple on site and the rep provided professionally prepared delicious snacks and bites.

If you’re not familiar with Tastefully Simple, they have easily prepared food mixes, soups, breads, dips, sauces and more. Everything is delicious plus handy to have in the pantry for quick fixes.  If want to order,  leave me a message and I will send you my rep’s contact info so you can order and have it shipped to your home.  My favorite is the Absolute Almond Pound Cake Mix.  Hungry Husband loves it!

We also had goodies provided by the Pampered Chef, These pictures were taken while they were setting up so the food wasn’t quite ready

PRICES & PACKAGING:  We all have heard the sayings “Image is everything,” and “You eat with your eyes.”  It is so important to present your product in the best possible way.  Add a ribbon, decorative tag, a unique wrapping.

I prepared these ready to give teacher gifts.  I painted a tall glass with red and green apples, filled it part way with peppermints, added a can of sparkling water and put it in an organza bag with an apple tag.

Shoppers appreciate the convenience of having something totally put together and ready for gifting!  It is also great if you can keep the price down, I purposely designed this whole package for a price that I knew would fit into anyone’s budget.  Plus it’s holiday themed with the red & green, yet apples are year round so after the holidays it can still be used for beverages or holding pens on the desk.


AMBIANCE: Make your home look as nice as you would for a party, have everything sparkling.  Fresh flowers and seasonal decor are nice additions if they won’t be in the way.

Probably should have turned off the TV!

BEVERAGES:  Although alcohol does loosen wallets, I don’t recommend it, especially when you might end up with some “chatty Kathys” hanging around! Not to mention you are responsible!  Provide guests with small plastic cups of lemon water or a flavored coffee or hot chocolate.  Keep it simple, but everyone generally loves a little sip of something.

FOOD: Don’t assume that if one of the participants says she will provide something that she will.  Often times, the day of show, vendors are busy and overwhelmed and can forget that plate of chocolate chip cookies they promised to bring.  Safer to take care of it yourself, see Refreshments above.

COMPANY REPS:  I have done shows with and without professional reps from companies such as Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, and others  Some have worked and some have not.  This is my advice here, if the professional is a CLOSE personal friend and you think he/she will fit in with what else you are selling then go ahead.  Professional reps can be a great addition but the disadvantage is they do NOT  invite guests.  They want to sell to YOUR customers.  This upsets the ratio of shoppers to vendors.  Ideally every vendor [seller] you have will have a long list of invitees and encourage them to do so.  You need at least 10-20 attendees per vendor for a successful show and if most of your vendors haven’t invited anyone you can quickly see that sales will be limited. Of course it all depends on the size of your show and your venue.  If you are in a public venue doing an event that has been advertised, that is entirely different and you probably had to buy booth space.  This post is about smaller, private home shows, that are NOT open to the public. My general rule is less is more, have 1 or 2 professional reps that are friends of yours and politely decline other requests.


Don’t leave a bunch of messy boxes around your display LIKE I DID!

I was supposed to bring a cloth to camouflage this…but I forgot…remember how I said NOT to depend on the participants to bring things?

Okay that’s a little better. I was lucky enough to be in the dining room and didn’t even have to bring tables.  Isn’t that chandelier gorgeous?

The breakfront was a perfect spot for some frames & boxes and the rest of the items I grouped by season across the table.  I couldn’t do a lot of height variations because I have learned from experience that people view mostly from the front in this kind of set up.  Most people won’t walk around the whole table but just view from the front. When they get over to the breakfront they will be focused on that rather than the back side of the table.  So most pieces are oriented towards the front.

This is a great example of a display using varying heights.  Not only is it a great use of space, a lot of stuff is displayed in a small space here, the vendor paid a lot of attention to color and the polka dot theme is repeated from the cloths to the ribbons and play off the stripes in the basket.  The color palette sticks with black & dark blue and orange and red.  The tall black wire torso with the airy scarf was a smart touch to draw the eye up, balance the display while not blocking light or the view beyond.  There’s that TV again!

As you round the display some taller items fill in the space. You can see another talented artist’s display in the background. The Butler’s Pantry in this home is envious and it was the perfect spot for her crosses, mini canvases and beautiful hand stamped cards and tags.

This part of the display was super cute and trendy with the zebra stripes but it was confusing to the eye since much of the jewelry was patterned too.  It all sort of blurred together, and perhaps a white cloth overlay to set the colorful jewelry on would have provided clearer viewing.  She sold a ton though, so apparently it didn’t bother her customers!

This was a fun display!  Don’t you love the life size stuffed dog in the Alabama cape?  Football fans, you gotta love ’em!  She did a great job though, varying her heights across the table and pulling the red across with the pop in the middle and the Santa cap on the mannequin.  I wonder if she sold that cape?

This was a brilliant way to display these fab hand knit scarfs, hanging them on a coat rack does them so much more justice than if they had been piled on a table top.

This photo is from a different show, and it demonstrates this artist’s sophisticated display.  Her subtle lime green polka dot cloth is edged with a lime ruffle.  The dots are just enough to keep the white from being boring yet don’t distract from her display.  She has a black velvet tiered tray to display her colorful jewelry trees which makes them totally pop!  Her framed challkboard/bulletin boards are cleverly displayed up the stairs.

Visit my talented friend Joanne at Down Mulberry Lane

BUSINESS CARDS: One more thing, make sure you have contact and website info available to hand out to your shoppers, OR  a hand out with dates of your upcoming events and shows

I hope this has been helpful and please SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS!

Thanks for stopping by, drop in again soon!

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Hand painted glassware from JMdesigns Gallery

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