The holidays really are the most wonderful time of the year. From Thanksgiving and Black Friday to Christmas and New Year’s Day, the holidays are made for enjoying good food with those closest around you. That means your restaurant has a great opportunity to help make the season brighter for customers.
There are many fun and festive ways to bring people to your restaurant throughout late-November and December. Here are seven holiday restaurant promotions and marketing ideas to try in 2022.
1. Create Festive Fare for the Menu
Whether you serve the finest cuisine or famous finger foods, adding some holiday-themed dishes is an easy way to get everyone in the spirit. Think of entrees and appetizers that are hearty or incorporate traditional holiday flavors. For example, you could include dinner specials featuring spiced-glazed ham, herb-roasted chicken or a cornbread casserole.
But don’t just think about entrees: include a few festive desserts and drinks as well. Delicious cream pies, cakes and Christmas cookies can satisfy any patron’s seasonal sweet tooth. Jazz up your beverage list by offering some holiday-inspired beers and cocktails. Ginger beers and Moscow mules are common this time of year, and sweeter beverages like hot buttered rum, mulled wine and spiked eggnog are always popular. Don’t forget to include some non-alcoholic alternatives like peppermint hot chocolate and apple cider.
2. Offer Carryout Catered Dinners
Once you’ve crafted a festive menu, offer catered holiday dinners for customers to pick up and enjoy safely at home. Whether it’s for Christmas, New Year’s or specialty dishes for Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, offering partially or fully prepared meals is a great way to get customers ordering and keep your kitchens in full working order. You can make these catered meals as extensive as you want and serve them up at special pricing. You can even incorporate your famous cocktails in a to-go format to really keep the holidays merry and bright.
3. Spread Cheer on Social Media
Social media can be your best friend this time of year. Use your restaurant’s social channels to let everyone know about upcoming events and specials throughout the season. Post everything from pictures of seasonal food specials and fancy décor to videos of your staff dressed up in Santa hats or singing holiday songs.
Additionally, posting promo codes on social media is a great way to give back during the season. For instance, you could post a promo code for a free appetizer or a QR code to get 15-20% off their next visit. Have your servers encourage customers to follow your restaurant on social media to get the latest holiday deals. This will give patrons incentive to follow your social media channels going forward.
4. Host Holiday-Themed Events
Come up with a couple of holiday events that can draw people to your restaurant. Ugly sweater parties are a fun fad you can easily get in on. Pick a day before Christmas where you give out a coupon to people who wear an ugly holiday sweater, or throw a sweater party complete with a DJ and fun prizes for those who don the “ugliest” getup.
If the idea of an ugly sweater party doesn’t necessarily give you the warm fuzzies, consider hosting a holiday-themed trivia night. Quiz patrons on everything from Christmas movies to classic carol lyrics. Finally, one one of the most popular holiday events for a restaurant to host is a New Year’s Eve bash. Offer a limited drink or food menu, hire a DJ or band, and distribute party accessories and champagne for the Ball Drop to your guests.
Whatever event you plan on hosting throughout the season, make sure to hang posters and promote it on your social media channels (we’ll get to specific tips in a little bit).
5. Promote Gift Cards
Who doesn’t love getting a gift card to their favorite restaurant? They’re great incentives for your guests to come back, an easy way to boost sales and they’re the perfect way to gain new customers. You can promote gift cards on your social media channels and on your website, train your staff to mention gift card sales to guests and even host a raffle or giveaway of gift cards.
You can even host a contest with your staff for most gift cards sold, and offer a fun prize or even a day off for the winning staff member.
6. Be a Holiday Party Headquarters
Whether it’s for work, family or friends, people love to throw a big holiday party. Unfortunately, not everyone has the room to host. If your restaurant has space, offer it up as a venue to host private seasonal parties. Make the dining room available either for a flat usage fee or by purchasing a package. For example, one package could be a la cart while another might include a set list of drinks and appetizers.
Make sure to emphasize reservations on any marketing materials, whether it’s through signage or social media posts. This will save you and your staff from dealing with large, unexpected groups.
7. Deck the Halls… of Your Restaurant
It’s the holidays, so don’t be afraid to liven up your space with some holiday decor. Consider stringing indoor lights and garland around bar tops, counters, poles and beams. Feel free to sprinkle in some statues or figurines of Santa, snowmen, gingerbread people or other characters. Of course, a tree is essential. If you have a large restaurant, make the tree the centerpiece of your floor design. If not, a small one in the corner or lobby will do.
Whatever décor you use also should depend on the atmosphere of your place. For instance, if you have a more modern-themed establishment, consider contemporary décor featuring white, silver and blue colors. However, if your place is rustic or traditional, stick with the standard red, green and gold colors.
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