The holiday rush has been called a myth on Etsy. This was my first year experiencing it because we moved last November and I did nothing to promote or advertise. I came in to this holiday season with no expectations but wanted to be prepared just in case.
During the slow summer I worked at increasing inventory. This can be a little depressing when sales just aren't coming in, but I managed to add about 100 items to my shop over the summer and early fall. It helped a lot. I didn't have to spend time during November and December creating much.
I printed extra address labels, do not bend labels and really small address labels. My die cuts go first class go first class so I need to take them to the post office. First class international get labels too. I printed 2 sheets and it was plenty. The do not bend stickers saved a lot of time too. The small labels were for customs slips. I asked at my PO if I could use a label and they said they keep that slip for 30 days so a label was fine. I pre labeled about 20 customs slips.
In August or September I placed an order for boxes and customs labels from the post office. Sometimes they take a few weeks so it's best to order these early. You'll use them eventually.
Promote, promote, promote all year long. All those hearts and all those past customers will come back to shop! I had a lot of Twitter sales and repeat sales for Christmas.
I hate to say it, but I trolled alchemy. I didn't bid on every single gift request, but I did bid on quite a few that I thought I could win. I won some and they led to larger orders. Yay!
I took out a Craftcult ad in November. These fill up fast and I got the carousel and not the sidebar I wanted but it still got me a lot of sales! Plan your ads early- August and September- to make sure you get the dates you want.
Stay organized! Before the rush I completely organized my inventory. I used clear plastic bags (my curtains came in them, but ziploc would work too) to separate like items. It has saved me a lot of time trying to find things.
I printed about 100 business cards and stamped about half and wrote in my coupon code and the thank you. When I need one I just grab it and it saves so much time while packing.
I never renew during the year but for the holidays I did renew if something had less than 2 weeks left anyway. I'm sure other categories have to renew to stay seen, I don't feel I have to.
Stock up on supplies. I do a mix of premade and make as they sell. I stocked up on checkbook covers, paper, and other things to make what I need to as it sells. I did run out of a few things and they will have to wait to be renewed.