Christmas throughout the year!
People are often surprised to learn that Christmas is an all year round business
The level of skill, experience and effort required to deliver a Christmas display should not be underestimated and is the difference between a professional or amateurish reflection on your organisation.
As consumers, we never really start thinking about Christmas until the end of October or beginning of November. Often we feel slightly outraged at how early Christmas decorations and advertising come out.
But when it comes to planning a program or project, you actually need to start thinking about Christmas much earlier in the year.
This will allow you to secure the products you want for your project as orders from international suppliers require a 6 month lead time to manufacture and ship to Australia.
Also, it will allow your commercial Christmas decorator to conduct site visits, create designs, develop prototypes (for custom projects) and order materials and other products.
If you work within a complex organisational structure, often there is a lengthy decision-making process, particularly when different stakeholders are involved. If decisions take time, you could miss out on product order deadlines or production windows.
The pandemic has also brought forward these times due to recent shipping and production delays
Whether you’re a marketing manager sourcing Christmas decorations for shopping centres or an event manager at a council looking for commercial Christmas decor, we have created this ‘calendar’ to show how the commercial Christmas industry is an all year round business.
By understanding the commercial Christmas industry lead times it will help your planning to ensure your Christmas project is a success.
- Teams Australia wide dismantle Christmas displays from the previous season
- Carry out condition reports
- Pack and store decorations
- Attend international Christmas trade fair
- Sample products are sourced from international suppliers
- CDS creates prototypes of new product ranges
- Interior design trends are identified for the upcoming seasonal colour themes
- Clients advised of service and repair needs
- Existing client decorations are refurbished
- Orders placed with international suppliers with a 6 month lead time
- Respond to client briefs
- Conduct client site visits
BEST MONTHS TO START PLANNING YOUR XMAS PROJECT
- Respond to client briefs
- Conduct client site visits
- Comission projects
- Design team completes work to be signed off
- Clients sign off final work
- All client projects finalised for approaching Christmas season, ready for the production period
SIGN OFF ON YOUR XMAS PROJECT
- Team of decorators start work on handmade, bespoke decorations
- Fabrication & joiner team manufacture bespoke display items
- Decor production continues
- Project managers schedule the delivery of client decor
- Logistical planning commences for teams installing displays in November & December
- Decor production ceases
- Teams travel Australia wide to install Christmas displays for clients
- Logistical planning for dismantle teams in January
guide to commercial christmas planning
As professional Christmas decorators, we’ve produced a handy guide on how you can plan a Christmas project for your shopping centre, council or property management firm.
1. Project Objectives
Define your target market and what you hope to achieve with your Christmas display as this will influence the creative and product choices:
- Feel good factor for staff, stakeholders, public and traders
- Increase footfall for traders
- Create a destination of choice
- Generate social media traction
2. Evaluate existing decorations
If you have an existing Christmas display evaluate it against your objectives and take stock of any current Christmas product, noting the following:
- Quantity, sizes and type of decorations
- Condition and serviceability of the items – specialist advice might be necessary
- Existing colour scheme
- Installation location of any existing decorations shown on map
- Find images of previous Christmas installations
3. Look & feel
What type of look and feel do you want to achieve in the context of your objectives and target market, rather than your own personal Christmas favourites?
- Do you want your decorations/displays to be traditional or contemporary?
- Do you want your decoration colour palette to be traditional or contemporary?
- Does the colour palette need to match or complement any existing decorations?
- Create a mood board of images to present to your Christmas supplier to express the look and feel you want to achieve
4. Site parameters
Assess the site/s parameters and constraints such as:
- Ceiling considerations – types of ceiling and ability to fix hanging decorations, ceiling heights, line of sight issues (exit signs, CCTV, air conditioning units, retailer signage)
- What floor space is available without impacting trader POS, foot traffic or lease egress
- What is the load-bearing capacity of the ceiling and condition of existing hooks or fixtures intended to be used
- Identify the location of power supply should it be required for lights or displays
- What access issues are there for equipment including load limits on floors and tiles
- Which areas are the key priorities for displays such as entrances, food courts, etc
- Are there empty tenancies or other areas which need special consideration
- Which other departments or contractors will you need to liaise with to access and review the space
The success of a commercial Christmas project will be incumbent on the following range of skills and knowledge in the planning stages
- Marketing and branding skills
- Creative and design skills
- Extensive commercial Christmas product knowledge
- Technical installation experience and knowledge
During the implementation stage of a project, the following experience is required
- Detailed planning and project management skills
- Deployment of resources for bump in and bump out stages
- Specialist EWP or rigger licenses
- Working to tight deadlines
Professional Christmas companies can have a varying degree of these skills and will be able to identify the most viable creative and product options to meet your objectives.
If you decide to buy off the shelf product and do a DIY install you need to allow considerable time for pre-installation work. This can involve anything from unwrapping each decoration, resolving and attaching hanging solutions, fluffing of foliage or attaching lights. Professional installers understand this effort and will include this time in their installation quote.
In addition, specialized skills such as EWP or Rigger licenses may be required for particular equipment or where large-scale decorations need to be hung. Also, pre-installation assessment of fixtures, fittings and electrical testing might also be required.
Whether you have a budget signed off or not, you will need to give some guidance to your supplier as to the expected value of your project.
Like all creative projects, there is no limit to the possibilities and typical Christmas projects can range from $5K to $250K. In order to be able to present realistic concepts and product options project budget guidance is essential.
Consideration could also be given to both capital and operational budgets as some suppliers can deliver viable hire solutions and flexible terms in addition to typical purchase options.
To set an appropriate budget you will need to:
- Have a reasonable understanding of the cost of Christmas product and compile prices from a suppliers site to give you a ballpark figure
- Identify the number of areas you need to be decorated and a budget for each area
- Factor in repairs or refurbishment to any existing decorations
- Consider the costs of hiring equipment to install and dismantle
- Factor in professional installation and dismantlement costs which depending on the size of the project can vary significantly
- Where appropriate consider any metrics such as increased footfall and turnover as measurements of success and future budgets
7. Creating a supplier brief
If you wish to engage a professional Christmas company the information you compile from points 1 – 6 will form the basis of a project brief which can be provided to your chosen supplier(s). By providing them with this information they will be able to recommend the most suitable designs and products to provide an estimate for your project.
8. Selecting your Christmas decorator
We would always recommend selecting a professional supplier who specializes in commercial Christmas as they live and breath Christmas all year round. They understand the nuances of supplying, manufacturing and installing commercial Christmas better than a retailer, general visual merchandiser, shop fitting company or interior designer would. A Christmas specialist will have a team able to deliver on the creative element of your brief, whilst also having the practical experience of understanding what decorations are technically possible on your site.
There are a limited number of commercial Christmas specialists in Australia with solid experience. Things to look for in a supplier:
- Examples of their past work – to see if their experience can be applied to your requirement
- Case studies – to understand their methods and processes
- Testimonials – to learn what clients think of their work
9. Commence planning in April
Yes, that’s right, we recommend starting your planning process by April with the aim of engaging a supplier by May – June for the following reasons:
- It guarantees you get the decorations you want for your project as the lead times surrounding the manufacture and delivery of commercial decorations can be 4-6 months due to international suppliers and shipping lead times.
- It provides greater choice in products from international suppliers that would not normally be available in Australia – creating unique experiences and greater differentiation
- It means you can often buy the product at a better price because when it is sourced from an international manufacturer in bulk, it is more cost-effective than us sourcing locally later in the year.
- It helps with your budget planning for the new financial year
- Committing to a Christmas project with a deposit pre-June 30th might be the perfect use for any unspent funds and could put you ahead for the new financial year