holiday wellness

The holiday season is here.

Department stores have replaced back-to-school displays with cozy sweaters and warm woolen mittens. Supermarkets advertise specials on turkeys and stuffing. Roadside stands overflow with pumpkins and apples. Along with the good feelings and celebrations comes a dose of stress. Travel, family get-togethers, shopping for presents and social gatherings can all contribute to feeling frazzled.

Massage therapists have the antidote for anxiety-inducing shopping trips and nonstop entertaining, at their fingertips. Seasonal hands-on treatments calm nerves, while offering seasonal retail items solves clients’ gift-giving dilemmas.

cookie and cocoa 

Scents of the Season

The holiday season is inextricably linked to certain scents. Cinnamon, pine, pumpkin, chocolate, clove, spruce and peppermint evoke memories of family gatherings, hot apple cider by the fireplace, and sledding with friends after a recent snowfall. By incorporating these aromas into massage products, a therapist can create a refreshing experience to welcome in the new season, according to Jean Shea, founder and CEO of BIOTONE Professional Massage and Spa Therapy Products, headquartered in San Diego, California.

“Aromatherapy essential oils can be added to most any oil, creme or lotion,” Shea said. A blend of orange, cedar, cinnamon and patchouli can relax the mind and match the woodsy, outdoor feel of winter, while “a milk-and-honey body butter is a comforting finishing product that can be incorporated with any spa wrap, or stand on its own as a delicate and lavish product that is similar to a fresh-baked cookie smell to help soothe the soul and welcome winter,” she added.

Shea recommended matching body butters and lotions with essential oils and essential oil blends to create your own signature holiday scent.

Regardless of treatment—massage, body wrap, scrub or facial massage— the addition of a scent, oil or lotion that complements the season will provide a stimulating and balanced experience for tired muscles and weary holiday nerves, said Jenny Hogan, media director for Marketing Solutions Inc., who spoke on behalf of Universal Companies, a massage-and-spa product supply company headquartered in Abingdon, Virginia. She suggested adding essential oils, such as eucalyptus, spruce, rosemary and cinnamon leaf, to the active ingredients in spa treatments.

“Create a hot spice tea scrub with cinnamon leaf essential oil, clove powder, grape seed oil and natural [sugar cane] exfoliant for a treatment as comforting as a cup of hot tea,” Hogan said.

While a basic massage treatment with a holiday scent-infused lotion, oil or cream can put clients into a cheery mood, using the same approach with an add-on can achieve similar results, and also benefit the therapist financially.

Hogan suggests offering a hand-and-foot treatment using heated mittens and booties as a luxurious supplement to massage. A 20-minute paraffin add-on can provide soothing warmth to a session, as can heated stones.

Aromatherapy misting sprays can set the stage for a holiday spa treatment. “Aromatherapy room mists are the fastest and easiest way to introduce your clients to holiday scents,” said Shea.

stocking stuffers

Ring in the Retail

Retailing can be an effective way to increase return on your business investments without having to work harder.

“This time of year is an especially great time to introduce retail products into your practice, [as] clients are looking for unique gift ideas as we come into the holiday season,” Shea said. She recommended pairing seasonal massage products with an attractive holiday mug, discount coupon and package of hot chocolate.

A complimentary spritz of aromatherapy at the beginning of every service may lead to the purchase of an add-on service or product, Hogan said.

“Tell clients if they enjoy the scent, you have retail items available with this aroma for their enjoyment or a great holiday gift,” she said. “For easy holiday retailing, package some stocking-stuffer ideas to display in your retail area and have them readily visible at checkout for impulse purchase.”

Massage therapists can promote retail products by first using them during a treatment and then carrying them, or complementary items, in take-home sizes. What client can resist a pair of mittens packaged with a gift certificate and your signature scented lotion?

Creating a service and a retail product to match boosts your income and may lead to repeat business. “You could do a cranberry body scrub and then offer a retail cranberry butter cream,” said Bill Comiskey, N.D., owner of Keyano Aromatics, headquartered in Ballston Spa, New York, which manufactures environmentally conscious hair, skin, bath and body products. “What we have done for seasonal promotions is to use a 2-ounce bottle of scented massage oil on the client, and then give her the rest to take home and use as a bath oil,” he said.

“Use holiday decorations as a backdrop for retail products and gift certificates,” said Hogan. “You can put gift certificates or holiday coupons in transparent ornaments and hang them on wreaths, garlands or a Christmas tree.”

An ideal way to enhance your client’s experience is to offer seasonal scents as collections, Comiskey said. Body butters, scrubs, masques, foot soaks, candles and shower gels in matching scents, such as pumpkin spice, cranberry or peppermint, allow the client to bring the in-office massage experience home—and keep the products, or wrap them up for the holidays.


gift certificate for massage

Marketing Holiday Spa Treatments

When you begin your holiday marketing efforts depends on the scope of your plan. Comiskey believes a short lead time is all that’s needed. “You could start two to three weeks ahead of when you want to start providing services,” he said.

If your plan is more involved, it’s never too early to begin thinking about a holiday marketing campaign, according to Hogan. “Establish what special holiday treatments you will be offering, which coordinating retail products you will display and what discounts or coupons you will offer,” she said.

“Create holiday gift certificates and plan ahead for client communications that will begin in the fall, and start putting up your signage and establishing client communications by November,” Hogan said.

If you have employees, be sure to involve your practice team in the planning stages to help build teamwork. “You can make holiday decorating a fun group activity, with everyone chipping in to create a special look,” Hogan said. “Have your front desk team ask every client if they want to upgrade their treatment with a special holiday twist when checking in or while booking their next visit.”

Your reception area can be put to good use with very little preparation. “Just set up a cozy chair, provide a 15-minute [seasonal hand-and-foot] treatment before or after client appointments, and perhaps offer a nice cup of spiced cider for added appeal,” Hogan said. “Also, you can always provide last-minute holiday options with online gift certificate sales through your client communications, all through the holiday season.”

Holiday open houses with workshops on how to remain stress-free during this time of year could attract new business and strengthen relationships with existing clients. Shea suggested including raffle prizes or teaming up with local businesses to offer holiday packages.

“’Tis the season to give to our fellow citizens, so offer your services to those in need at firehouses and hospitals, let the local press know you’ll be there, and organize some of your peers to come out to give back to their community,” Shea suggested. “This works wonders to help network, introduce yourself to the community and get your business name out there.”

Create and post to social media some marketing pieces, such as .jpg files, that give customers a clear and attractive visual message.

A multifaceted marketing strategy that integrates social media, email, newsletter and offline advertising helps provide the best return on investment, according to Stephanie Beck, owner of San Diego-based SRB Solutions, a company that specializes in marketing for massage therapists, chiropractors, spa owners and acupuncturists. When it comes to social media, Facebook is the obvious choice, but Beck said not to ignore Pinterest or Etsy.

“Feature your newsletter link on your social media pages, and have your social icons and links in your newsletters,” Beck said. “Add a sign to your room or front desk that says, ‘Find us on Facebook,’ or ‘Follow us on Twitter’ or any other social media platforms you are using. Add your social links to your email signatures, so people can click on the social icon and be directly connected to your social site.”

While social media can add another level to your marketing, be sure to use it properly, Beck cautioned. “[Social networking] isn’t a buyers-and-sellers market; people are looking to make connections, build relationships and want reviews and recommendations,” she said. “The big brands work on developing relationships with their fans all year-round, so they have earned the right to leverage those relationships to increase purchases during the [holiday] months.”



To make the holidays a bit merrier for your clients and practice this holiday season, bring the scents and ingredients of the season to your treatment room and retail shelves. Your clients will appreciate the festive touch, as well as the option to surprise friends and family with unique gifts. In turn, your celebrations are guaranteed to be more joyous.


About the Author

Phyllis Hanlon has written nonfiction articles and book reviews as well as human-interest stories, profiles and award-winning essays. Her specialty areas include health and medicine, religion, education and business. She regularly delights in the joys of massage. She has written many articles for MASSAGE Magazine, including “Peppermint Oil Puts the Holiday in Massage.”