Alli Plummer- ‘Twas the Month Before Christmas

Emphasis: Organizational Communication and Advocacy

I became involved with the “‘Twas the Month Before Christmas” event at the beginning of the year when Janalyn Holt, the President of the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce, brought the idea to me while I was interning with the Chamber. This was a first of its kind for the Chamber, so we started flushing out ideas early in the process. The entire planning team consisted of myself, Janalyn, and Sydney Brustad, the current intern for the Chamber. The intensive planning started in the first week of September when we met with Hemming Village to discuss the venue and décor they have in place for the holiday season. Hemming Village very generously donated the venue, the Atrium, and suggested the date of November 11th as one that would work best for them, so we went forward with that as our event date. We decided to hold the event from 12p.m. to 8 p.m. The first hour of the event were dedicated to VIPs within the community who we felt would start the event off successfully. They were given special invitations and included individuals like Mayor Merrill, Vice Presidents of BYU-Idaho, and winners of past awards at the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce Farmer Merchant Banquet. At 1 p.m. the rest of the community was invited to join us.

The vision that guided us through the planning process was to bring together local businesses in Rexburg and put them in front of the community to gain exposure and business. After viewing the Atrium Janalyn and I decided that 20 vendors would fit the space comfortably while allowing for the public to move through the space easily. I then created a list of potential vendors in the area and assigned each member of the planning team to 7-9 businesses. It took us about 6 weeks to solidify and receive contracts for all of our vendors, which ended up being 17 businesses.

Businesses who participated:

  • BTI
  • Bronze Bod
  • Circle of Love
  • Ace Hardware
  • Fat Cats
  • Love Olive Co.
  • Main Street Diamonds
  • Poppy Teeth Whitening
  • Potter and Co
  • Rustic Floral
  • Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
  • Weed Man
  • Holidae Fun and Games
  • Namaste Spa and Salon
  • Thursdays Outlet
  • BYU-Idaho University Store
  • Madison Armory

In addition to these businesses, we placed an order with June’s Place to provide their award-winning hot chocolate and with Crumbl to provide cookies. We also booked Joe Kidd, to be Santa and meet with kids for the last four hours of the event. After securing all our businesses, we reached out to local performers to have live music at the event. Ultimately, we were able to have performances by the Rexburg Women’s Chorus, Sugar-Salem High School Choir, Diana Grover, and Micheal Seare.

I designed and created all materials for the event, excluding videos of the participating businesses which were done by Sydney Brustad. I created a banner for our social media page, digital file for the city’s media board on the end of Main Street, which was also used for Hemming Village’s Media board, welcome signs to the event, an event schedule poster, poster and hands out for all of the participating businesses, letters from Santa to distribute to the elementary schools in the area to invite families to come, VIP tickets, and signage for within the event for things like pointing people to the refreshments and encouraging kids to not play on the piano.

The day of the event started for me at 8:30 at the Chamber of Commerce offices where I picked up signs and décor to transport to the Atrium. I met vendors there start at 9 a.m. to direct them to their spaces to begin setting up their booths. Sydney helped me to direct people and set up the décor we had put together for different areas in the venue, like Santa’s chair and backdrop. Vendors trickled in all morning and the event started on time at 12 p.m. As opposed to counting how many people came to the event at the door, we gave out cookies and hot chocolate for free and estimated how many people attended based off the number of refreshments we went through. We estimate that about 650 people attended throughout the day; we had the most in attendance from 4-8 when Santa was visiting with the children. Throughout the event a majority of my responsibilities were to respond to the needs of vendors when they arose, like the volume of the music, ensuring that there were enough refreshments, and handling the speaker system for announcements and performances.

Photos Courtesy of Tatum Ballard

I created a survey for our vendors to gauge their feelings about how the event went and how things could be improved if the event was to be repeated next year. The survey was 8 questions long including things like “how many people bought from your booth?” and “do you think the event was too long, too short, or about right?”. I created a QR code for the survey and distributed it to all the vendors during the last half hour of the even and received 8 responses from the 17 total vendors. Overall, the responses were great, and confirmed a lot of the feelings we had about how the event had gone. The main take away from the responses that will be implemented next year is to move the event to Saturday, shorten it by a couple of hours, and to lower the volume of the music played throughout the event.  

These two questions were the ones we were most interested in. As we begin thinking about next year’s event it is nice to know that we have vendors interested in returning. On top of bringing in people from the public, we wanted to ensure the vendors felt that the event was a good use of their time and that they would be interested in returning.

I cannot talk about my experience with this event without expressing my deepest gratitude to the Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce for their faith in me and support throughout this process. I especially need to thank Janalyn Holt for her guidance through the event planning process and patience with me as I navigated how to manage such a large event. I also want to thank Sydney Brustad, a fellow communications student who was the Chamber intern this semester, for her help in executing this event and suggestions on how to make it great. I could not have done it without the help and support of those fabulous individuals.