It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Hopefully! The National Retail Federation anticipates a 3.6 percent increase in holiday sales this year, but even the most successful small business owners can be anxious about how year-end receipts will shake out.

If you’re one of those nervous business owners, the idea of holiday marketing may seem like so much added pressure. But breathe a sigh of relief; holiday marketing doesn’t have to be an expensive endeavor.

In honor of the seven days of Kwanzaa, the eight days of Hanukkah, and the 12 days of Christmas, we proudly present our 11 tips for holiday marketing on a budget. (We picked 11 so no holidays feel slighted and to still give you as many tips as possible.)

1. Send emails!

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective marketing tools there is, bringing in an average of $44 for every $1 spent. Sending holiday-themed emails to your lists, then, is a no-brainer. Here are some types of messages you may want to send during the holidays:

  • Sale or promotion advertisements
  • Event invitations
  • Seasonal newsletters
  • Holiday greetings or New Year wishes
  • Thank you messages

2. Use social media.

You already have social media pages, right? It doesn’t cost your business much besides a small time investment to keep them active and updated. Use them to advertise all the deals, promotions, or events happening at your business this holiday season. Or run a countdown to a special event, using Facebook and Twitter to steadily beat the drum and whip up online excitement.

3. Make a video.

The benefits of video marketing are immense: a 76 percent return on investment, increased search engine visibility, and elevated customer trust, just to name a few. If you have the time and a mobile phone, there’s no reason not to start making videos right away. Shoot a short video or series of videos highlighting your products, services, or knowledgeable staff. Then upload to YouTube and/or Vimeo (or your own website, if it has the capability), and promote the videos on social media and in your emails. Don’t worry if your camera skills aren’t worthy of a Madison Avenue ad agency — it’s all about getting into the holiday spirit, having fun, and showcasing that small business touch that your customers love.

4. Host an open house.

If you have a restaurant or retail store, use email and social media to invite customers to an open house at your business. Serve light refreshments and showcase your holiday gift ideas or seasonal menus. Open houses are small-scale holiday parties that will put your customers and their friends in the seasonal mood and remind them that you stand ready to serve.

5. Offer a unique experience or gift.

Give away a small gift, only available from your business, to every customer who spends over a certain amount. Or raffle off an experience that customers can’t find elsewhere — a special spa treatment, a romantic dinner for two, or another treat that customers wouldn’t normally buy for themselves.

6. Offer free gift-wrapping services.

Gift-wrapping services can be a lifesaver for harried customers. Generate goodwill and foot traffic with this time- and sanity-saving extra.

7. Promote gift cards and gift certificates.

Not only are gift cards and gift certificates cash up front for your business, but when the recipients return to use them, they will most likely spend more than the amount they were gifted. In other words, it’s a win-win situation for your business.

8. Partner with other businesses.

It often pays to partner with another local business and cross-promote each other’s goods and services. For instance, if you run a catering business, and you have a good relationship with a local cleaning business, you can advertise that both businesses stand ready to serve before and after your customers’ holiday parties. Make the most of this tactic by using each business’s email and social media to cross-promote the other.

9. Reward loyal customers.

If it seems like nearly every business has a loyalty program these days, that’s because they do. Offering an incentive to repeat customers is a tried and true method of enticing return visits. If you don’t have a rewards program already, now may be the time to launch one. The Small Business Association has some tips to get you started.

10. Write a blog.

The blog on your business’s website is your place to write about anything and everything that might be of use to your customers. But it’s good for your business too: It gives you authority in your industry, it helps your business show up in more search results, and it increases leads, to name only a few benefits. During the holidays, use your blog to feature hot products, seasonal services, time-saving tips for your customers, and more. Then promote these posts on social media and in your newsletters.

11. Visit Everything Holiday.

Everything Holiday, our one-stop holiday resource center has dozens of tips, tools, guides, how-to’s, and festive giveaways to ignite your holiday marketing while staying on budget. Need to decorate your social media pages with holiday graphics? Check. Need to plan out your email campaigns? Check. Need holiday calendars? Check. Start seasonalizing your marketing today.