Hosting a Handmade Open House

by Sara Tams of sarah + abraham

Oh my! A house full of handmade and vintage goodness!

My friend Emily O’Donnell is amazing – she’s so full of grace and style. In December, and again last week, she opened up her home to host a handmade craft show, inviting neighbors and women from her church to display their handmade goods and shop.

In December I displayed some sarah + abraham items and really enjoyed meeting other local crafters. This time I was excited to share the event with OMHG readers. Emily graciously agreed to let me take lots of pictures and answered my questions about the event. Thank you, Emily!

handmade jewelry from Elliewood Rose

How did the idea for the first handmade open house come about?

I’m new to the world of crafting but have found such fulfillment in creating ‘beauty’ of some sort – whether with yarn or fabric or paint. The creation of art is such a uniquely human endeavor that I feel everyone has some area of expression they should discover. The idea of the first Open House was in part an attempt to inspire women from the neighborhood to create by seeing the ‘handiwork’ of others. It was also an avenue for sharing our personal creativity with others.

illustrations and greeting cards from abbyclark.etsy.com

Where did you find crafters to exhibit their goods and people to attend?

I sent out an e-mail to the women from my church and neighborhood to ‘recruit’ women interested in displaying handmade items. My sister did the same (her illustrations are pictured above), and we encouraged women to pass the invitation on to others they might know.

gorgeous hand knit goodies from posymoe.etsy.com

We also created a Facebook event page and invited our ‘friends’ to attend and share the invitation with their ‘friends’. The event page allowed the participants to post pictures, personal websites and comments, as well as RSVP for the event – it was fun to watch the event begin to build as the weeks grew closer.

All of the feedback was incredibly positive – I really sensed that women loved the opportunity to purchase unique handmade items (especially since sales easily topped $1,000 in a few hours).  I think the women were surprised by how ‘chic’ the handmade items were – perhaps they were expecting outdated sweaters or tacky trinkets. Everyone had a great time.

Do you have any advice for someone who’s thinking about hosting a similar event?

My advice is if you’re thinking of doing it, do it! Put the word out that you’re considering a Handmade Open House – through school, work, church, neighborhood groups, etc., and you’ll be surprised at the ease with which it comes together. Be enthusiastic and flexible. Let your love of handmade items be contagious, and I bet your friends and neighbors will catch the handmade fever :).

One other thing I’ve done is to host a monthly ‘Handiwork’ gathering that I regularly invite new women who I hear enjoy creating items – it’s a great forum for dreaming about other ways to nurture creativity in those around us and to share new crafty ideas!

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Have you ever attended or hosted a similar event? Do you think you might host an open house in the future? Please leave a comment and tell us about it!

9 comments

  1. tasha roe says:

    my friends and i hosted our spring open house over the past weekend. it was wonderful. it’s the second one we have hosted. the first one was 2 weeks before christmas. there are 4 of us and we rotate between homes. some of us live in st. louis and some in IL (across the river). since we have friends from all over the st. louis and illinois area we try to offer a ‘preview night’ on friday night. to accommodate those that have obligations on saturday.
    we serve fun appetizers, wine, sparkling lemonade, tea, and sweet treats.
    its always a huge hit.
    here are 2 of the vendors that were at the show – http://www.eliwill.etsy.com http://www.pinkposiedesigns.etsy.com
    we used a ton of social media to promote it as well and offered ‘show specials’ that were a HUGE hit.

  2. sokunn says:

    me and a friend are attending as a crafter this saturday, our very first open house type thing. we called it a momprenuar sale but it is pretty much the same thing, handmade items all in one place, i am excted for this coming saturday!

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