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Preparing For Christmas This Year (As A Small Business)

Written by Annie Dornan-Smith

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Posted on September 19 2018

Hey guys! So I think this post is gonna take a different shape that our usual programming around here. It's a bit of a ramble, but I just felt like I had some thoughts that I needed to organise, as much for me as anyone else!

I'm entering my third proper Christmas as a brand (there've been christmas designs before then, but I made them back when I was still kinda "playing shop" so I don't count them) and I'm still trying to get my head around getting through this time as a business owner. It may seem super early to be discussing Christmas, but planning this far ahead is the reality of it for me, and, well, I've been working on it since June already anyway. 

Preparing For Christmas This Year (As A Small Business) - Annie Dornan Smith | anniedornansmith.blog

I am a Christmas Person.

Let's just get that out there from the start. I am a carol-singing, card sending, decorations-putting-up-on-the-1st-of-December-ing, (Christmas)Card-Carrying CHRISTMAS PERSON. In my family, we start planning in September, Shopping in October and are pretty much in full-blown-Christmas mode by the end of November. But, over the last few years of really throwing myself into my business, Christmas has become something of a weird thing for me. As a card designer, Christmas kind of comes with the territory, and I am absolutely overjoyed that I get to spend, like, most of my year thinking about what I can make for next Christmas that will be creative and wonderful and beautiful and wintry and oh-so-festive!

Honestly, I have never had a better excuse for getting excited about Christmas in August.

But simultaneously, Christmas has become a *groans internally* season of hustle in my business - I'm trying to juggle creative, festive content that I want to put out there (think Christmasssy insta snaps, gorgeous newsletters that inspire you to shop with me, festive-themed photos of my products, beautiful banners for my website, and fun, inspiring blog posts that get you guys in the mood for Christmas); packing and sending orders - which, wonderfully, increase significantly over the Christmas period, and hauling all my products to Christmas craft fairs to show off my designs to new eyes on the lookout for unique, festive gifts. Alongside this though, I'm trying to do all the normal-person Christmas stuff (like shopping, wrapping, mulled wine-drinking, party-going, etc) and because I'm a Christmas Person, I have to do it all big. I want to bake my own cookies, wrap my gifts flawlessly (with gorgeous tags, and a bow for every one), and go ice skating and late night shopping and and and...!

Last year was my first year spending the majority of the run-up-to-christmas away from home (I have to stay wherever the stock is until my last shipping date to make sure everybody gets their orders on time!) and I think the work/life balance was much tricker. I threw myself into Christmas fairs every weekend, and had a busier Christmas as my shop slowly grew, so I was packing orders daily. On top of that I was trying to keep up with producing content and doing quite a lot of freelancing (London rent doesn't pay itself!) and I kind of feel like I missed out on a lot of the festive fun. So. this year, I decided to plan in advance to make sure I got to squeeze in the festive traditions that are important to me. 

The biggest thing I've planned is for Martin to take a few days holiday in the run-up to Christmas. I missed out on all the festive, London-y things last year like drinking overpriced hot chocolate and ice skating, and seeing as we didn't take a proper holiday this year I thought it would be nice to savour a few of those excitement-filled lead-up to Christmas days. I'm not sure exactly what we'll do for those days yet, but I'd like to do a bit of Christmas shopping and stop for festive coffee and cake, stay home and bake and watch films and maybe head into central and go skating or visit a craft fair or two. Aside from shipping orders in the mornings, I'll be taking pretty much 5 days solidly off work, which is actually kind of terrifying. 

Preparing For Christmas This Year (As A Small Business) - Annie Dornan Smith | anniedornansmith.blog

The second biggest is that I've opted to skip all but one of the Craft Fairs this year. I'll be attending only my favourite fair this year - Native Makers - and skipping out on the big ones. It's a scary gamble, but last year invovled a lot of expense and emotional energy, and this year I'm prioritizing being present for family gatherings and savouring my favourite season. Maybe next year. 

In order to take some time away during the lead-up to Christmas, I've had to be quite proactive about my preparation for Christmas as a business this year. As I said earlier, I started working on my collection in June and completed it by July, and since then have been working on making sure everything is ordered and packaged in plenty of time;  taking the kind of product photos I wanted in plenty of time, and that my wholesale catalogue is updated and ready to send to stockists. I'm using the next few months to plan and schedule all the lovely blog posts I want to make this year, and plan out the rest of my content, to lighten the workload for when we reach December.

Last year I was working at full-pelt, and after living off mostly Lebkuchen, peanut butter bagels and not much else for about a month, the second I closed my shop and got off the train back home I came down with an almightly head cold that stuck around well into the new year. Another way that I'm planning to take the stress off over Christmas this year is by prepping some healthy meals that I can freeze in advance, and grab those for my lunches during the week (rather than subsisting on Sainsbury's meal deals and peanut butter cups) and hopefully avoid crashing and burning by December 23rd.

Preparing For Christmas This Year (As A Small Business) - Annie Dornan Smith | anniedornansmith.blog

Of course, a plan is never foolproof, and Christmas has a way of throwing the unexpected at you, but I'm hoping for a more festive, less stressful holiday this year. I'd love to know if you have any time saving tips for savouring that festive atmosphere this year, and if you're also a small business prepping for Christmas this year, I wish you lots of sales, a large mug of something mulled and some rest for when Christmas rolls around this year.

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