Who doesn’t love a good night out with the ladies? (And men, if it’s their thing!) Have you ever hosted a crop in your store? Here are some great tips to help you plan and execute a great party!

Usually a theme is a great way to get people excited about your crop. You can do themes by season, holiday, special event, or just about anything you can think of. Try to use themes that have a wide scope for application for many of your customers and aren’t limited to a select few.

Make sure you select a theme that you can carry through your activities, goody bags or giveaways, refreshments, and perhaps even an example or make-and-take item (more about all of these later).

Make sure you have space or can clear enough space to host your event. If you need to limit your attendance, be sure to have people sign up for the event, and make sure your customers know that it is first-come, first-served to get on the list! Make sure there an area large enough to accommodate all of your guests and extra room for refreshments and other displayed items you are planning to have.

Decide whether you want a large working area, or if your customers would be better served with smaller, more intimate tables where they can get to know each other better. Croppers need quite a bit of space! Don’t cram people in and make them feel like they have no room to work. Make sure there is enough space to get up and move around, and especially allow access to any refreshments and restrooms that you have available.

Date and Time
Since you are hosting as a business and not as a personal host or hostess, your time frame is somewhat limited. We suggest that longer is better (with a set agenda so people can come and go if they need to), so a Saturday event may be your best choice, unless you are doing a shortened make-and-take version of a crop.

Make sure you plan your event in plenty of time to get the word out about your awesome event. Make posters for the store, perhaps even little “Save the Date” notes for customers to take at check-out. A great way to promote sales during the crop is to offer a special coupon for those in attendance that can only be used the day of the crop.

You can also promote your event via social media and blog posts. Any way to encourage attendance will enhance your event, and, assuming everything goes well, will promote attendance at the next event at the same time.

Utilize the theme to develop a few refreshments. Ensure access to drinks and food, but also have clean-up availability. No one wants greasy finger prints on their creations! You can be creative not only with your food choices, but with your display as well. Utilize your spread as decoration!

During the Event
Make sure, even if you are not presenting or working that you make the rounds to the attendees whenever possible to chat and make sure everyone is having a good time. Ask if there is anything you can help them with.

Often it can be fun to have someone present a new technique or show the attendees how to make a small project. This can be a great way to encourage attendance at your event, especially if you use your presenter to spread the word to those he or she knows.

If you do a make-and-take project, make sure the pieces are all cut out prior to the event to ensure that this simple and small project does not take a large portion of your event’s time.

Prizes, Giveaways, etc.
It is always fun to have a little thank you gift to send home with your attendees. This may be the project that they completed, or it may be something completely different. Simple embellishments are a great gift.

You can also offer a door prize raffle for a featured product, especially new products that you are carrying that customers may not be familiar with. These kinds of giveaways and door prizes can be a big draw for attendance at your event, especially if you give away a big-ticket item that you can advertise about prior to the crop.

Other Tips:

Community Tools: Have a table set up where specific tools like die-cut machines and other larger tools are available. This will cut down on the amount of items that attendees need to bring and may also boost your attendance for those who do not ordinarily have access to these kinds of tools at home.

Freebie Table: Have a small table where attendees can place tools, paper, stickers, books, etc. that are no longer wanted, but are in good condition that others may be interested in taking home with them or using at the event.

Name Tags: Have name tags available for your guests to make remembering new friends’ names easier!

Agenda: Make sure your guests know the agenda prior to coming and can plan their schedules accordingly. It helps to make the door prizes available only to those who are present, and perhaps give away a few smaller prizes throughout the event to encourage guests to stay.

With some planning and advertising, you can plan a great crop that can help customers feel more connected to you and your store. Use these tips, and those who attend will be sure to remember your crop of all crops as a fun event and attend the next one if they have the chance! Have fun!