The holiday season is usually the busiest time of year for soap makers and small business owners. Preparing for markets and dealing with the increase in orders can feel a bit overwhelming. Luckily, the soap making community is here to help. We asked how people stayed on track on our Facebook and Instagram pages and got some great tips – thanks to everyone who commented. Find more information below.
This holiday timeline can help you stay organized. Feel free to modify it to suit your needs and preferences - everyone's schedule will be different!
- Stock up on all the seasonal items you need, including fragrance oils, colorants, and molds. We brought these products back earlier this year based on your requests! Get favorites like Santa's Spruce Fragrance Oil, Snowflake Sparkle Mica, and the 6 Cavity Christmas Assortment Silicone Mold.
- Stock up on essentials like coconut oil and lye too.
- This is a great time to get organized. Use any method you like - a spreadsheet, calendar, Post-it Notes, etc. Write down which recipes you plan to make and when, the days you plan to pack/ship, craft show dates, etc. Make sure to allow plenty of time for curing and possible mishaps.
- You can also start making soap if you have early craft shows, bulk orders, etc.
- It's time to make cold process soap! Starting in September gives you time to make multiple batches and let them cure for a full 6 weeks.
- If you aren't able to start now or if you have some last-minute batches, don't worry. You can use a water discount to speed up the curing process.
- Once your bars are done curing, you can get started on wrapping and labeling them.
- Make sure to take lots of photos of your beautiful soap for your website and social media.
- This is also a good time to make products that don't need to cure, including lotion, scrub, and bath bombs.
- Depending on where you are, November will likely be filled with craft shows and shipping online orders. This is where that planning will come in handy!
- If you're planning to give handmade gifts, set aside a few bars for later.
- December may have a few craft shows and some last-minute orders, but things will start winding down as the month goes on.
- Try to take some time to enjoy the holidays - you worked hard and you deserve a break!
Tips from small business owners
Although I do offer a wide variety of colors, scents, and styles of soaps for the holidays, I try to stick with just a couple favorite recipes…instead of many different ones. That way, ingredients are always available, recipes are tried, tested and true, and labels are universal. There’s plenty of time after the holidays to play with new recipes and techniques. -Karen W.
Some jobs are time-sensitive, so I write to-do lists on calendar pages. I make sure not to write in more than I can do in a day, and assign days to the time-sensitive tasks on the calendar so I can make sure to get everything done on schedule. Tasks that are not time-sensitive get written on the side of the page (my calendar has a notes section) so I can check them off as they get done. -Margaret G.
Keep recipes simple and plan ahead. I keep a soaping spiral notebook so I can jot thoughts and ideas down. Everything has a date. Oh, and I’m a HUGE fan of Post-it Notes!! -Jennifer R.
I obsessively write to-do lists and use a planner. Make the most time consuming items now, such as soap or salt bars to allow to cure. Then work on lotions, lip balms, or scrubs from most time consuming to least time consuming. I also have a big show coming up so I will leave a few days just for labeling, shrink wrapping, and creating gift sets. -Nelly V.
Though we offer a ton of scents, I reserve those for events and only sell what we have listed on the website. Thankful for the business, but my family needs me sane for the holidays, too! -Sap Tree Creative Company
I took a quilting technique and applied it. In quilting, we use design walls. I write my orders out, and tape them to my “order wall.” My Christmas delivery date is “after Thanksgiving, before December.” All orders get mailed the same day. I don’t guarantee orders placed after October 15. I let customers ADD to orders for free, but because I’ve had people CHANGE an order, I tell them I charge a fee for changes. (This applies more to my quilting business than my soaping business). -Wanda L.
Plan early! I finished all autumn and winter soaps & products. I use one basic recipe and add to it, no more than three ingredients. -Theresa D.
I wrap and tie ribbon to coordinate with scent or fragrance. Holiday season is hectic season. I also start everything in July. -Micaela L.
Start stocking up early, and don’t be afraid of selling out! -Shelby L.
Focus! It’s easy to get distracted by a new technique or scent or a suggestion from a customer. I keep Excel lists to remind me both what’s already in stock and what supplies are left. Then I deep breathe away the rest! -Cyd H.
Plan and order early…write it down and set dates and goals! Make it visible and set reminders on your phone. Set production days and bring in help. This year, I’m hoping to enjoy the holiday. -Angela
List everything on an Excel sheet: production numbers, supplies needed, supplies used up and available, varieties of soaps produced. Get help, set a date for completion of each batch and tick off each item on your list as you complete them. Also outsource whatever can be outsourced, such as designing and printing of labels, social media updates etc. And BREATHE!! -Bath Bliss
I just embrace the chaos. Then sleep through January. -Jan M.