Jan 23, 2012
Give Thanks-and Solutions
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Special to Party & Paper

Combining fall holidays and sales with style and ease

Planning a dinner party can be overwhelming. Throw the stress of Thanksgiving into the mix and it can become downright daunting. Fortunately, parties can be planned with ease and beauty nowadays, thanks to the vast inventory of party and paper stores. From trendy table landscapes to creating festive, manageable meals, your customers will be hoping it’s their turn to entertain Thanksgiving guests year after year.

There’s a lot more to the day of Thanksgiving than just favorite foods. Thanksgiving is an event that lasts all day and often into the weekend. From breakfast to all day appetizers to the main event, the kitchen is sure to be a hopping place that needs support from every angle to successfully keep up with hungry bellies and festive feelings.

Holiday-themed paper plates are the perfect solution for this, but not the only one. It’s time to show your customers how to really pull off a Thanksgiving with ease, fun, style and themed decor that will leave guests feeling full and happy.

Forget Formal, Keep Style
Hosts have the option to entertain with comfort without sacrificing style thanks to the many solutions of party retailers. From themed paper plates, napkins, place cards, hand towels, centerpieces, toothpicks and so much more, adding festive decor is a cinch. The key to crafting a stylish, yet informal, Thanksgiving event is to combine the traditional favorites of Thanksgiving – such as a grandmother’s China or a favorite food dish – with modern conveniences that allow hosts to be part of the party versus in the kitchen the entire time. Are your customers convinced this can happen yet? Are you?

Don’t push customers into buying every coordinating plate, cup and napkin just because they match, but instead show them how they can blend some of this into their existing collection of dishes at home. Set a table up in your store that includes fine China – your local Goodwill likely has some at an affordable price – combined with festive party goods from your store assortment. From plastic punch bowls to disposable serving trays to wine glasses, create a display that screams beautiful and stylish without compromising Thanksgiving expectations.

Plates and drinkware are a must on Thanksgiving, and we know you have that covered for your customers to shop. But don’t leave them hunting for all the little extras. Showcase disposable tablecloths and take paper place cards to the next level by getting creative with how you showcase them.

Add a variety of levels to your table landscape to remind customers of all the opportunities they have to get festive – use cake stands to lift a serving dish, have saucers holding place cards, fill bowls with festive decor. The opportunities are endless. Bring in the natural beauty of nature with branches with berries, fresh winter greenery or colorful autumn leaves to help capture the harvest feeling that Thanksgiving is known for. Combined together, these elements will set the tone for a beautiful Thanksgiving day.

The Before and After
While the main event of Thanksgiving is typically dinner, the before and after is not to be dismissed when it comes to planning with style and ease. More so than ever before, customers are turning to quick solutions when providing appetizers and desserts. From store bought pies to pre-made appetizers, hosts realize they can’t always do it all. Plus, beverages are an all day affair that can’t be ignored. Luckily, this is where you can help support them with a big Thanksgiving bang.

Paper napkins are an obvious must, but the question is which style napkins are best for which customers? Themed and festive or plain and elegant? Merchandise your store so that both types of customer knows which way to turn when walking your aisles, easily being attracted to what their decor style is. It may take a shift in your normal merchandising techniques, but if you approach Thanksgiving merchandising with a split down the middle, you just may be surprised by how customers respond.

Of course, napkins are not the only musts on Thanksgiving shopping lists. Disposable cups are a great solution for hosts, as are disposable silverware, plates and serving dishes when it comes to appetizers, desserts and beverages. In addition to a great table display for a sit down Thanksgiving meal, offer a merchandising space that highlights these Thanksgiving must haves. Keep consistency through color and theme throughout the day’s festivities to help create a dynamic display both in your store and in your customer’s homes.

The Thanksgiving Talk
To help your customer accomplish a full-day affair without any hitches to overcome, talk to them. The power of communication is so important on any day of selling, but when selling to support Thanksgiving, it’s extremely important to know a lot about your customers plans.
Questions and selling points for you and your team to ask customers are identified below.

  • How many guests will you be entertaining? Will they all be there the entire day? Once you have a number, you can best support them with how much of everything they will need.
  • What meals will you be providing? Make sure to include appetizers and desserts as a meal. If your customers don’t mention these, ask specifically about each.
  • Would you like to make clean-up easy before and after Thanksgiving dinner, or is this not a worry for you? Based on their response, you can better support them with what they may need to help accomplish their unique goals.
  • Are there any guests you have that may need special dining features, such as handled cups versus without? This question sometimes surprises customers, yet often makes them realize special circumstances they had not thought of before. Even buying extra paper cups for kids if they don’t plan to buy any other paper cups is a sale you didn’t have-but now you will.
  • What items from home are an absolute must in your decor and dining plans? Get excited about what they tell you, then offer ideas on how to coordinate and compliment these items with your own store items.

    Finally, make sure the festive feelings of gratefulness are not overlooked in your store this time of year. Be grateful for sales and tell your customers this. Thank you goes a long way, but offering store incentives or “thank you for your purchase coupons” go even farther. Plus, with Christmas around the corner it doesn’t hurt to leave a very strong impression! It’s the gift that keeps giving … back to you and your store.

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