10 Tips for a Successful Open Studio/House Party

10 Tips for a Successful Open Studio/House Party

This month is my 3rd Annual Open Studio House Party on Saturday, September 26, 2015 from 5 -9 pm.

As the date approaches and I review my notes from last year I thought I’d share with you 10 tips for creating a successful Open Studio (and/or) House Party.

photo of house party

Open door to Nanci’s 2014 Open Studio House Party

1. Plan. Figure out the what, when, and where. Write it down. Create a time line and from there create your to do lists. I use a program called doolebrate created by a friend of mine. I can create Projects, sub- projects. Tasks with notes, priorities and due dates. You can also use Evernote, a spreadsheet or another personal favorite, pad and paper.

Invite to Open Studio House Party 2015

Invite to Open Studio House Party 2015

2. Get the Word Out. I use Evite to create online invitations, send emails to my list, create an event on FB and this year I will also be sending an oversized card as part of my campaign, thanks once again to the great design work of Caryl Felicetta of Think Plan C.

Open Studio House Party 2015 card back

Open Studio House Party 2015 card back

3. Curate  Your Work. Is your goal/intention to show new work? Move older work? Generate sales? All of the above? How will you display, price, and label your work? The first year I had several copies of price lists in clear sleeves placed around my house on tables. Last year I did that as well as create wall labels. I recommend both. Make it easy for people to see that your work is available.  Which brings me to:

4. Enlist Help. Who will help you clean, set up, greet, handle sales and clean up? You need to be the friendly, available artist to chat with people and not worry about if the ice bucket needs to be replenished or wrestle with prices or your Square reader.

Okie Drive Studio and Gallery

Okie Drive Studio and Gallery

5. Sales.  Do you have an area designated to handle sales? This may include your computer or receipt book, packing supplies and of course your Square or other devise for taking credit card purchases with your phone or ipad.

6. Food/ Drink. Make sure you have more than enough food and drink. Turns out that people preferred beer over wine our first year which was unexpected, so last year we had plenty of both. Also, friends offered the second year to bring an appetizer or dessert and that was greatly appreciated. I order a big tray of sushi (Koi Series, get it?!) which is a big hit each year. Figure out your menu- and your budget. I try to keep it somewhat simple: cheese, crackers, grapes, mixed nuts and goldfish (yep the fish theme again.) Brownies and cookies, also a big hit.

Mingling at my Open Studio House Party 2014

Mingling at my Open Studio House Party 2014

7. Music. As soon as my husband walks in the house he puts on music so Scott is in charge of our playlist which is eclectic, ranging from world music to soul to singer/songwriters. It tends to be more in the background because I don’t want it to overpower the conversation, or the art!

8. Visitor book/ name tags. I highly recommend a visitor sign in book which is why it is good to have someone greet your guests at the door, ask them to sign your book and give them a quick tour/ lay of the land. Name tags are a good idea. I offered them for the Wilmington Flower Market Party at my home in April 2015, and people told me that they appreciated having them available.

9. and last but certainly not least People! I am sure that you are fabulous and interesting and therefore know fabulous and interesting people. Invite them all from the various parts of your life. Your artist friends, collectors, neighbors, gym buddies, work associates. It’s fun to mix it up and you’d be amazed how people know each other that you never expected.

10. Review. Write down what worked, what you want to change for next time, how many people came, and anything else you think was pertinent or important. Here is an excerpt from last year’s review.

Wine- went through 6- Red, 3- White. Could use 2 more of each
Bought 2 cases of beer, about 18 were drank (next time no Miller LIte!)
Pellegrino- 3 bottles
Seltzer- maybe 2, Pellegrino more of a hit.
Also had a pitcher of water with sliced lemons and oranges. That went well.
Bobbi brought a warm brie with fig jam/ baguettes- a hit
Rosemary made two tarts- 1- savory, 1-sweet
Sushi- 3 rolls- California Roll     
            3-   Purple Yam (big hit)
            2- Spicy Tuna 
Total price for Sushi- $38.00. all the sushi went, can consider adding a roll of each.
Hummus with crudite
2 hard cheeses with assorted crackers
2 containers of Acme mini brownies
I made my white chocolate cranberry biscotti.
Other Prep:
Bought mums for front entry way and some plants for back deck.
Made up 4 price lists that I put around the house upstairs, also made clear handwritten labels with #, title, and price next to each piece. People paid more attention to that than the price list on paper.
Oh, and its always good to start earlier then you think you need to, people are busy.


  1. Alicia R Peterson
    September 3, 2015

    Thanks, you took some out of the wind of my anxiety, I had my first one this year and way overdid everything but that too is a learning curve. Look forward to the next one in 2016. Did you have any concerns about folks in your house and safety?

    • Nanci Hersh
      September 5, 2015

      Glad to hear that you hosted your first Open Studio Alicia and that you are looking forward to the next one. People love to see where the magic happens. My Open Studio House Parties are generally through invitation and I encourage people to bring their friends. Am considering participating in an Open Studio Tour that will be publicized widely and would bring new people (that I have yet to meet) and will consider how much of my house is open for visitors and will enlist help in that department if needed, as well. Thanks for your input. Great to hear from you.

  2. Jane LaFazio
    September 11, 2015

    Excellent and comprehensive! Thanks for sharing. And best of luck to you on September 26th!

    • Nanci Hersh
      September 11, 2015

      Thank you Jane for your comments and good wishes. Much appreciated.

  3. Gail Haile
    September 29, 2015

    Thanks for taking the time and effort to share, Nanci! This is fabulous information!
    Can you share where and how you displayed your work?


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