The 6 Things I learned Organizing a Holiday Craft Boutique

1. A little holly goes a long way to deck the halls.

some found Christmas ornaments made 5-year old discarded centerpieces into something new. That's right Martha, watch out. There's a new kid in town.

My task: create a joyous, festive backdrop for a local artisan craft boutique. My operating budget: microscopic. My best friends: the dollar store and our building’s basement.

After a morning of rummaging through ghosts of openings and Christmases past, my assistants and I took $10 worth of dollar store ribbons and transformed discarded gala centerpieces from 5 years ago into brand-new ornamented decorations. A few bows, a wreath, a string of lights, and a bippidy, boppedy, boo were all it took to transform a white-walled gallery was instantly a winter wonderland.

2. There’s no crying at the holiday boutique.

At 11AM the morning of our opening, I was still rolling on the final coat of paint over freshly-patched walls. My artists were strolling in, looking for tables that still needed to be built (yes, BUILT) and the floor needed vacuuming. My team of 3.5 had been working round the clock for 4 days straight, de-installing our New York Times reviewed exhibition, finishing paperwork, and turning over the gallery. Had I been a different girl, this might have been the point when I sat on the floor, cried, and screamed “I don’t want to play anymore!”

A sample of the hand made goods we had

But as I helped the designers and painters unload, I couldn’t help but smile.

“Are you in the union?”

“Head of the teamsters! Would you like some mulled cider?”

3. Being a gracious/fun-loving hostess gets you free stuff.

A mini-holiday-themed-top hat + Sequins galore + A sense of humor made up my daily uniform at the craft fair. Before long, I was a walking mannequin for all my vendors, donning everything from a tailored red silk blouse to silver bracelets to knitted hats and scarves.

a little flare and a sense of humor gets you free stuff.

“You need some sparkle,” one of my jewelers proclaimed as she handed me a pair of crystal earrings to wear and keep. How could I say no?

4. A watched pot of mulling cider never simmers. An unattended pot of mulling cider, on the other hand, leaves you with a cinnamon-scented gooey mess.

I thought it was a good idea to pass out hot mulled cider to shoppers. It was a good idea…until one of my assistants called in sick, leaving me short-staffed on our busiest day.

A lot of cider was mulled that day… but not a shopper saw a mug.

5. Just because you have a degree in economics from an Ivy League University and a talent for shopping doesn’t mean you know shit about working in retail.

None of this prepared me for working in retail.

Adam Smith never taught me how to do basic book keeping. Neither did Maynard Keynes. And getting an A in Calculus 4 doesn’t make you an accountant and while I know how to swipe a credit card, don’t ask me how to work a cash register.

Luckily, I’m a quick study…

6. Never put Mistletoe over the cash register.

‘Nuff said.

nuff said
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