Holiday Campaign and Event Ideas

umpqua-signs-saturdayHold a “Pro-test” For Indie Businesses

Think Local Umpqua took their holiday campaign to the streets on Black Friday with staff and volunteers holding signs at a prominent intersection.

In just a few hours, TLU generated great news coverage and hundreds of supportive honks! They tied the effort to the collaborative Shift Your Shopping campaign. The signs were then displayed in vacant storefronts through December.

Some groups work to rebrand the day after Thanksgiving as Plaid FridayMonadnock Buy Local (NH) generated great results for members and media coverage with their first “Plaid” event. Oakland Grown, in the birthplace of Plaid Friday, offers special events and promotions through their indie loyalty card program (2014 news coverage). Seacoast Local and Downtown Dover (NH) offered free parking to shoppers and facilitated many local events.


As a Small Business Saturday promotion (see tips on how to capitalize on Small Business Saturday), the Billings, MT Chamber of Commerce enticed citizens to visit member businesses with a drawing for gift cards to those businesses.  They created a Monopoly-esque game board populated by their member businesses. The board was made available on the Chamber website (but easily could be printed in a newspaper to encourage greater participation).

Each business space was identified with a color corresponding to the location of their neighborhood or business district.  Citizens were required to visit 10 businesses, then complete the drawing entry which was placed conveniently on the game board (completed entries could be left at any business visited). Participant would invariably visit unfamiliar business and many new customers were created.

The Louisville Independent Business Alliance hosts an annual contest in which residents can win a $1,000 shopping spree and other prizes by collecting receipts from any five member businesses.

Fayetteville, AR used “Indie Bingo” to draw customers to member businesses for a week-long promotion. Visiting five businesses in a row on their local business bingo cards qualified participants for one of many prizes from local merchants and restaurants.

portland-holiday-window-croppedWindow Installations

Portland Buy Local (ME) arranged with owners of commercial buildings with vacant storefronts to use their windows to send a big “Buy Local” message for the holidays.

The Austin Independent Business Alliance coordinates an annual window decorating contest for their several neighborhood commercial districts, which encourages locals to vote online for their favorite display in each. Voters enter a drawing for stockings full of gift certificates and other items from AIBA members. The winning businesses in each district then compete head-to-head for the “King of Window Displays” honor.

Louisville-putyour$-where-heartisMessage Saturation

The Louisville IBA distributed sidewalk chalk to business members to chalk the walks in front of their businesses with Buy Local/Shop Small messages (LIBA provided them with sample messages) on Small Business Saturday. Participating members are asked to take photos and send them to LIBA, who posts to their social media. LIBA also held a press conference with the mayor and a Congress member (they also engaged in chalking).

nline Promotion
Portland, Oregon’s Little Boxes has engaged 180 independent businesses to provide an online showcase for local businesses and goods.

Local First Milwaukee generated more than 100 commitments to their “Shift Your Shopping” pledge in its first month.

Stay Local! (New Orleans) makes gift-buying easier by providing “present picks” on their website — gift ideas, along with a few guides for finding them at NOLA independent businesses.  So do Portland Buy Local and MetroIBA!

Many groups design Facebook banners using Shift Your Shopping, Small Business Saturday and Paid Friday imagery.


Personal Contact
You have a great opportunity to influence the recipient of your gifts by simply letting them know you deliberately chose a local independent business. Several Independent Business Alliances have provided such tags for their members. The Louisville IBA supplied rolls of 100 stickers that retailers then offered with gift purchases. See our free gift tag template and customization options.

austin-iba-christmas-gift-tagThe Austin IBA provided an incentive for member businesses to distribute their gift tags with an offer to promote those businesses agreeing to do so via AIBA’s website and social media during holiday gift-buying season.

Locally-designed gift wrap: Local First of La Plata County (Durango, CO) partners with the Durango Herald newspaper to turn designs of 6 local artists (determined by juried competition) into gift wrap, which the Herald prints. It’s then distributed to member businesses and at the newspaper office for purchase, with proceeds going to support the work of Local First.

Several groups have circulated currency stamped with pro-local business message as part of local events

Wrap It TagMore to Come!

We will add to this page during each season. Subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for updates.

Many more templates and how-tos are accessible to AMIBA affiliates — just log in, then see Holiday Templates. Learn more about affiliation for your organization or business, which includes free ad customization.

Free Holiday “Buy Local” Graphics, Posters and Ads

More Top Reasons to Buy Local

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