Sunday, March 26, 2017

How-To Guide for Hostesses

How do you hostess a really great party! I get that question a LOT!

I would by no means consider myself a professional hostess, but after hostessing over forty online parties for Lularoe last year and now doing several of my own in-home parties for multiple vendors and now my own parties for SeneGence, I do have a pretty good idea of what it takes to put on a pretty decent direct sales event.

Face it, everyone. If you have a friend or know someone in direct sales, chances are at some point they are going to ask you to hostess for them because that’s the way they expand their client base. And by you opening your home and inviting your friends, you can earn some really nice rewards from the consultant or distributor as a thank you gift. It’s a perfect “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” exchange. It’s a lot of fun for both the consultant/distributor and for you if everyone works together to make it a success.

I have been asked on several occasions to give some advice on how to do a great in-home party, both from the sellers and the hostesses, so I decided that what better way to get that message out than to put it on my blog!

So here is a how-to!

1)  Pick a date and time. You have to think about what consultants you have coming and who you will be inviting. I realized very early on that during the week at night and weekend morning parties are NOT the best for my guest list. For me to get the best turnout, I either do Friday or Saturday night or Saturday or Sunday afternoons. For the time, I would allot two hours for Lularoe and add on an extra hour for the second consultant, and one extra hour for the third and fourth consultant. I also like to have my parties be open-house style, so no one has to worry about being on time. It’s actually better if everyone comes and goes so that way the consultants are not overwhelmed during the first thirty minutes. This is what works best for me, but it may not be the same for you. If your guest list are all stay at home moms with toddlers, during the day might be great. If you have happy hour girls, Thursday night might be great. Tailor it to who is coming!

2) Decide on what consultants you will have in attendance and schedule a firm date and time with them. Make sure you can stick with it because once it’s in their calendar, it’s there and they will be passing over vendor events and other chances to have parties for yours. My parties are for the most part the same formula every month; I always have one or two Lularoe consultants, my best friend who sells Scentsy, me with SeneGence, and we’re now adding one more. My house is only 1,700 square feet, so five consultants is max capacity for us. We determined that we can fit six racks of clothing in my living room, so when I decide on one or two consultants, I ask how many racks are coming. Lularoe goes in the living room, Scentsy and SeneGence in the dining room, and the fourth or fifth vendor usually squeezes in between the living room and the dining room. It’s a tight squeeze, but it’s fun and festive!

3) Once you have decided on the time, the date, and the who, it’s time to get the word out! I usually start by creating a public event on Facebook and inviting all of my local friends. About two weeks before the event, I will create an Evite and do my invitations by email. Evite AND the Facebook event have links that you can copy into a text message so you aren’t constantly typing the same information over and over again. Text them, email them, put a sign up at work, tell your friends about it, even post on your community boards! If you can, put a sign up in your yard the day of the party. You never know, your neighbor might be a closet Lularoe fan girl and just didn’t know anyone local to shop with! Remember, all it takes is one pair of leggings to start the addiction. This is key; make sure that you make your event PUBLIC on Facebook; otherwise, you can’t share the event to groups and neither can your friends or consultants.

4) Tell your friends to bring their family and friends. I always tell my guests to bring their spouses and kids with them. It has been my experience that if you make SURE your guests know that their kids are welcome, you will have a bigger turnout. My daughter McKenna is always on kid duty and my husband talks to the guys in the kitchen. It’s a party, after all!
5) Now, most direct sales consultants will tell you not to have food because it distracts people from shopping. I completely disagree. I think if you make it MORE like a party with food and drinks, it is more festive, the ladies with come and bring their kids/spouses, and it won’t be so much like an obligation to BUY. I always tell my guests who say they don’t have money to spend, just come and hang out! It’s a fun time, they can shop, get a break, the consultants have a chance to pass out their cards, and there are no formal presentations so they just drop in and browse. I pretty much have the same food at all of my parties. I always have wine, light beer, bottled water (get the small bottles), diet and regular soda, and Capri-Sun for the kids that come. For food, I make Ranch dip, put out a bowl of chips, a crudité tray, a fruit tray and deviled eggs. Occasionally I will put out a candy bowl or someone will bring a dessert, but that’s really about it…that pretty much fills everyone up and it’s all finger food so it’s quick to eat and fast to set up. Make it easier on yourself with Solo cups and paper napkins; I generally use appetizer plates instead of paper plates.

6) Make sure that if you have WiFi, you give the password to your consultants ahead of time or put out a sign so they can connect. With everyone doing orders and invoicing online, it will help out your consultants and your customers immensely so they can check out fast, and if the tweens bring their devices, they will appreciate having it so they can play Minecraft.

7) If you have dogs, I would suggest confining them to outside or another room. I have a black Lab, a Great Dane mix and a Yorkie/Dachsund mix, and they stay confined during all of my parties for several reasons: I don’t want them getting scared and nipping a kid, I don’t want the guests scared when they see how big my dogs are, and I don’t want the Lula getting dog hair on it. Plain and simple.

8) Check with your consultants ahead of time to see what they need. I usually send a picture of my living room to the Lularoe consultant that is coming so she has an idea of how she is going to set up her racks. I always offer to set up a table for leggings, and I have a little bag of belts and shoes that I set out for accessories in case someone wants to see how leggings look with boots or how they can belt a Carly to look a little more form-fitting. I also set out a full-length mirror and move some lamps into the living room since my house is on the darker side of the moon. I have moved furniture around for racks, made different food depending on what the consultant prefers (for example, I like red sangria but I have had a consultant request white sangria in case of spills), and made size cards. Tabatha, my Scentsy consultant, will use a lot of my Scentsy products for her display so she doesn’t have to bring all of her stuff from East Texas, so I always make sure I have that ready for her when she arrives.

9) You are going to need at least two rooms for changing. I always set up my guest bathroom, my daughter’s room and my office for changing rooms, and that way if a lot of kids come, they can hang out in my daughter’s room, and we still have the two rooms free. 

10) Since I always have Scentsy there, and I LOVE Scentsy, I make sure and change out all of my warmers with fresh wax and make sure that all of the scents are ones that are currently carried by Scentsy. I also put the Scentsy box next to the warmer so if the shoppers are curious as to what scent it is, they can look and then ask Tabatha about purchasing it.

11) Ultimately, whatever you are hosting, make sure you are promoting it because your guests aren’t going to be interested in it if YOU are not interested in it. Granted, this is not a hard task for me because I adore Lularoe, but I always make sure that I dress in full Lularoe and try my best to wear something that the consultant sells. For example, if she sells Amelias, I wear an Amelia, but if she doesn’t, then I’ll ask her what dress she would like me to model. Tabatha will wear Lularoe as well and I’ll try to not dress the same as the consultant. But if you are hosting Chloe and Isabel? Wear the jewelry. LipSense? Wear the lip color. Stella and Dot? Put on a necklace. Thirty-One Bags? Pull your bags out that you have already and show your guests how much you love them. Flaunt your Scentsy! This is your party! The more your consultants sell, the better for everyone because you will be rewarded for bringing them clients!

12)  For me with LipSense, I’m pretty easy because my stuff is small. I have a four-foot long table, and everything fits on it, so as long as I have a space to accommodate that, I’m good, but I do like having WiFi since my invoicing system is online. I like to drink wine during my parties out of a clear wine glass so I can show my customers that I am demoing the product for that the lip color does NOT come off.

13) Lastly, ALWAYS send a thank you note! I usually get a thank you note when I hostess as well, but I always always always send a handwritten thank you note to the consultant letting them know that I appreciate the opportunity and also that I appreciate the gift of the clothing that they rewarded me with for bringing them business. It's just good manners!

Now…let me tell you what NOT to do because there are some dos and don’ts with hostessing direct sales:

1)  Don’t have competing vendors there. If I got to a guest’s house and saw a Mary Kay rep, I would turn around and go home. It’s just not courteous. Lularoe is a little different because no two consultants have the same inventory, but even then, I always make sure that I talk to both of the consultants and make sure that they are okay sharing my living room before setting up the event. But don’t invite two jewelry vendors, don’t invite Scentsy and Pink Zebra, no Perfectly Posh and Arbonne…just NO. It’s not polite to them and it’s confusing for your customers. Enough said. If you want to hostess for competitors, do it on separate dates.

2) Most direct sales consultants are going to make sure that you are aware of the hostess compensation system beforehand, and if they have not, ask. It’s better to know up front what to expect than to get to the end of the party and have things be awkward. Hostess rewards are at the discretion of each consultant, but there is nothing wrong with asking. If you can’t agree, don’t waste their time or yours. If the consultant and the hostess aren’t on the same page, the guests will pick up on it and your guests are going to be shopping from the consultant because they assume that you know the consultant and trust them.

3) There is nothing wrong with looking at the things that you want as your hostess gifts, but it is in very poor taste to ask the Lularoe consultant before the party if you can set aside the items that you want for yourself. Your guests are there to shop. They should get first choice.

4)  Lastly, don’t guilt your guests into coming by telling them things like “you really want such and such” or “please come and by, I want this”. I went to a Pure Romance party where the hostess was reminding everyone all night long about the item that she wanted, how she couldn’t afford it if we didn’t buy a lot and it made things very awkward. I wouldn’t even mention anything about hostess rewards to your guests. In fact, I tell people that there is no obligation to buy and I would just like to see them, which is the truth! My last in-home party I saw a friend of mine from four jobs ago that I hadn’t seen in five years and it was a lot of fun to catch up with her! I have had guests ask me if I get hostess rewards for hosting parties at my home, and I answer that I do but that’s not why I’m having the party. Direct sales is a lot of networking as we all share the same clients, but it’s also supposed to be fun and not “what have you done for me lately?” at all.

5) If you have the party at the consultant’s house instead of your own, don’t leave the mess for her to clean up.

6) If you have the party at your house instead of hers, don’t leave her alone to clean up and take down. If you have ever helped a Lularoe consultant set up for a party or take down, you know it’s no easy feat. Each consultant has their own system, so it’s best just to ask for direction and do what they ask and lend the extra hands.

So that’s it! That’s my guide for hostessing a great direct sales party! If you want to read my guide to hostessing a great online direct sales party, click here to read about that as there are a little different rules.

Oh, and P.S….

If you DO want to hostess for me? You can hostess for me online or in-home. I have a sliding scale for a percentage off your order depending on what sells during your party and as long as I sell one thing at your party, I will give you a lip gloss of your choice OR $20 off your order, your choice. So if you are interested in earning some LipSense, drop me an email at or join my Facebook group here.

Good luck with your party! And HAVE FUN! This is a picture of one that I took in January at my in-home party, and everyone had a great time!

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