For most of us living abroad, going home for the holidays isn’t an option this year. If you’re an expat in Germany, you might be missing family and loved ones. So what can you do to keep spirits (and business) up this holiday season? We’ve put together a list of low-budget ways you can...

turn homesickness into more business.

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1. Decorate your profiles and online storefront

Breathe some fresh, wintry life into your website and online profiles. Spruce up your Facebook cover image with a festive slant and curate some holiday-themed Instagram posts.

Idea: Each connection is meaningful for small business owners. The holidays are a perfect time to let customers into your inner circle. Promote love and good tidings by showing customers what matters to you – and how their business supports this.

2. Connect on social – reward top fans!

Have you turned on Facebook’s Top Fans feature? If so, you can easily identify your business’ top fans by tapping the Community button – then reward them with special offers! It’s a great way to show customers how much they matter and build brand loyalty.

And don’t forget about Instagram and Twitter polls. You’ll gain valuable insights directly from potential customers. Then you can design data-driven offers around people’s wishes.

Idea: Ask followers to share the worst gift they ever received. Most people have amazing stories, and you can share a laugh in DMs. Customers love being heard by their favourite businesses. Or ask followers which of your products they’d most like to receive as a gift.


Further reading

We also love this thoughtful list of holiday-themed Instagram polls.


3. Create an advent calendar

There’s something magical about advent calendars. Beyond the childhood nostalgia, it might also be simply having something to look forward to each day – the exciting build-up leading up to one special moment. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas you can still appreciate (in some abstract sense) the thrill of advent calendars, especially in 2020 when each day feels the same.

Make your own virtual advent calendar this holiday season. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, do your own personal take on the idea – Christmas doesn’t own it. Instagram stories are best for this, but email and blog work, too. Offer your audience a new surprise each day: quotes of the day or behind-the-scenes videos from inside your small business, challenges, gift ideas or little parcels of wisdom.

Idea: A personal trainer can offer 24 effective home workout exercises leading up to the 25th, when everyone has full licence to be a (roast) potato.

Tech tip – WordPress calendar plugin

Run your site on WordPress? Check out this WordPress calendar plugin. Try out the demo to see if it might fit your needs.


4. Kick off referral marketing

Referrals have soared in lockdown. Digital marketing site The Drum says that despite shops reopening, ‘this trend has remained up year-on-year for retailers in sectors including home and garden, fashion and gifts.’ 

People trust their friends – more than branded websites, it turns out. Referral marketing offers a cost-effective way to nurture loyalty organically this holiday season.

Idea: Incentivise subscribers to promote your business to friends – ‘Refer a friend and get 20% off your next purchase.

5. Christmas gifts for top customers

Do you keep accurate sales records? How about offering a small gift to your top customers. Even something as seemingly small as a handwritten card will warm your customers’ hearts on a blustery winter’s day. Remember, the gesture is more significant than the gift itself – and presentation is everything.

Idea: Send traditional holiday cards to your long-term customers. Or, at the very least, you can include a personal note on your Holvi invoices!

6. Go online this holiday season

E-Commerce isn’t new, but 2020 has made it even more mainstream. November and December are top months for e-Commerce – an almost endless stream of consumer-oriented holidays. You have Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas sales, Boxing Day and finally New Year’s.

Germany is the fifth largest market for e-Commerce globally – grossing an estimated 103.4 billion by the end of 2020. With 95% of the country’s population online and 84% buying at least one item digitally, it’s time to make the leap to selling online (if you haven’t already).

Facebook shops lets you easily create and customise an online store. For craftspeople who would usually sell at weekend markets, Etsy is a convenient marketplace.

Idea: Spend the time you would have spent travelling on researching and opening an online store!

7. Get cozy with another entrepreneur

We don’t mean under the mistletoe. Although you could do that too…

Hook up with another small business owner this holiday season and benefit from each other’s customer base. It’s a win-win situation! Together you can reach more potential customers – so go on, expand your reach. Plus having a new business partnership will ease the sense of homesickness you might feel as an expat over the holidays!

Idea: Reach out to your favourite small businesses with a mutually beneficial idea. You never know, it might turn out to be a dream partnership!


One of the best parts of running a small business is that sense of personal connection with your customers. It’s also a perk of buying from small businesses – that feeling of sponsoring someone’s dream because they’ve earned your loyalty. Think of the smile on your local baker’s face when you excitedly cry, ‘Take my money!’ and grab the biggest gingerbread person. Oh, it’s a beautiful reciprocal relationship.

In this time of isolation and instability perhaps there’s no better year than 2020 to dig deep during the holiday season and go that extra mile, to let even just one single customer know you care.