During the holiday season, the streets are busier than usual with everyone shopping for holiday presents, party decorations, or prepared dinners. By adding a little Christmas spirit to your establishment, you can attract shoppers for a quick lunch break or relaxing end-of-day drink. Our guide to the best Christmas ideas for your restaurant is sure to bring in the chilly guests, festive carolers, and maybe even a few reindeer for some holiday cheer.

Why Your Restaurant Should Include Christmas Marketing

People spend money during the Christmas season, so why not have them spend it at your restaurant? Hosting holiday promotions is a simple way to involve your business in the seasonal festivities while also appealing to new customers or regulars who want to get into the spirit of Christmas. Offering discounted gift cards, participating in a charity drive, or adding new holiday-inspired menu items attracts patrons and increases the net profit of your restaurant.

When To Start Christmas Marketing

For promotions and limited-time specials, it’s best to begin advertising sooner rather than later. Most competitors start announcing their holiday sales in November, before Thanksgiving, to spread the news of their holiday deals. Starting your restaurant’s Christmas marketing early allows guests to plan accordingly and purchase holiday gift cards or family meal specials you’re offering. It is also important to promote the availability of your establishment’s private room for large group reservations.

Your restaurant’s location and customer audience could be helpful indicators of when to start stringing up the white lights and hanging the mistletoe. If a large variety of people visits your restaurant, decorating right after Thanksgiving is most likely the best option to be inclusive of other holidays like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. If your customer base is more tight-knit and overall similar, then you have the leeway of a few more days to start decorating to provide the month of December with its season’s greetings.

How To Bring Christmas To Your Restaurant

With many ways to welcome in the holiday spirit, we’ve compiled a holly, jolly list of Christmas ideas for restaurants to help you hang up the stockings and mistletoe for this festive season.

1. Decorations

Consider decorating the dining area of your restaurant to encompass the joy of the holiday time. Don’t forget to include the outside to attract passersby searching for a quick drink or bite to warm them up. The most common restaurant Christmas decorations include:

  • Lights
  • Snowflakes
  • Snowmen
  • Snow angels
  • Christmas trees
  • Presents
  • Santas
  • Reindeer
  • Elves
  • Gingerbread men
  • Candy canes

Note: try not to decorate with religious items to avoid making those who don’t celebrate Christmas uncomfortable.


2. Christmas Movies And Music

To match your establishment’s merry and bright decor, think about shuffling up some holiday music to provide customers with the full festive experience. If your dining area has TV screens set up, you can put on classic Christmas movies to entertain kids. Don’t forget about your sports fans though! Remember to leave big sports games on select screens to ensure that everyone in the family remains happy.

3. Specialty Menu Items And Drinks

Capture the taste of the holidays with limited-time items introduced into your restaurant’s menu. The specialty menu may encompass traditional meals or incorporate signature holiday flavors in your well-known beverages or dishes. Santa-approved Christmas menu items could include flavors and ingredients like:

  • Cranberries
  • Gingerbread
  • Peppermint
  • Apple cider
  • Sweet-glazed ham
  • Smoked salmon

Shake or stir up some jolly spirits with these Christmas cocktail ideas:

  • Cranberry old fashioned
  • Christmas punch
  • Eggnog
  • Seasonal beers
  • Gingerbread martini
  • Apple cider mimosa

4. Special Deals And Promotions

Integrating themed sales throughout December is a great way to increase customer traffic and profits in your establishment. The following deals could be applied to the whole month or on specific weekdays such as:

  • 25% off select sides or entrees
  • Holly Happy Hour - 50% off drinks and appetizers
  • Twelve Days of Christmas Loyalty punch cards - 12th visit, get a free dessert or bottle of wine
  • Restaurant Gift cards - $10 bonus for every $50 card purchased

5. Events

Consider hosting events to establish customer engagement and create a joyful atmosphere in your restaurant. Including prizes for competitions or contests, like dinner coupons or free drinks, entices guests to participate. Gather family, friends, coworkers, and a few elves for a good time with these Christmas event ideas:

  • Christmas sweater contest - Host on-premise or through social media and prize the winner a free drink or dessert. Advertise ahead of time to allow guests to submit their photos.
  • Live music or performances - Set the merry mood with comedy performances or a live band while your customers dine. Based on the turnout, plan a few throughout the holiday season to keep the crowd coming.
  • Office holiday parties - Prepare your dining area for office parties. Depending on the party size, consider separating a few tables or a private area for reserved groups.
  • Charity drives - Appeal to the season of giving by hosting a charity event like collecting canned goods or donating a percentage of guests’ meal bills to the charity of choice.

6. Catering And Take Out Options

While most families tend to stay in and cook dinner together for Christmas, some opt for catering if tending to a large party. Think about arranging a catered dinner menu for those guests who want a break from the kitchen and enjoy the holiday. Make sure to offer different serving sizes to choose from and a variety of options to appeal to dietary restrictions or allergies.

Provide various serving options (4-, 6-, 8-serving size)

  • The main dish (select ham or turkey)
  • 2-4 side dishes (choose from traditional, vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free options)
  • 1 dessert (optional but recommended)

Provide various servings with 3-5 festive drink options (2- or 4-serving size)

  • Pair meals with premade cocktails or cocktail kits to provide a full and cheerful dining experience.

7. Open For The Holidays

Consider staying open for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for those wanting to eat at a holiday-themed establishment. By remaining open, customers will be inclined to dine at your establishment since most of your competitors will be closed. You can organize special events like a Christmas Eve prix fixe dinner or a Brunch with Santa on Christmas Day to gain the attention of patrons.

8. Holiday Social Media Takeover

Remain active on social media to catch the attention of those who already follow your restaurant’s account or those who happen to stumble upon it. According to Instagram, 39% of users become more interested in a product or brand after viewing it on Instagram stories. Interactive stories allow you to track how many people are viewing and responding to the content.

Create Stories With Poll Or Question Stickers

Many accounts are now using poll stickers to include games of “this or that” where story viewers choose between two options presented. Allowing social media users to play a fun game within your Instagram story will most likely open up the platform for increased interaction and conversation with your followers. Make a holiday version of “this or that” or ask Christmas-themed questions to stay on brand with the season!

Publish Holiday Posts

In a generation of digital information, most people get their updates from social media. Don’t be left out in updating customers on your joyful deals and merry specials. Consider planning social posts with Christmas images or themed captions alongside new menu items or drinks to signal that your business welcomes the celebrations.

Have A North Pole-Approved Restaurant

Adding the holidays into your establishment’s marketing schedule allows you to stay in guests’ minds when they make their festive plans. Plus, eye-catching decor and limited-time specials draw in new patrons. With a combination of these restaurant Christmas ideas to implement this holiday season, your business is sure to experience anything but a silent night.