12 Christmas Promotion Ideas for Restaurants in 2023
Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not, is a magical time for people around the world. It’s also a very lucrative time for businesses, specifically restaurants. A survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association found that 77% of people will let restaurants do some of the cooking for them during the holidays. It’s clear that demand for restaurants during the holidays is there, which is why it’s time to explore a bunch of Christmas promotion ideas to help your restaurant bask in the most wonderful time of the year.
In this article, we’ll explore promotions that you can use to give your guests the gift of hospitality and help you increase sales this Christmas season, including:
12 Christmas promotion ideas for all venue types
Christmas marketing tips to help your restaurant thrive during the holidays
12 Christmas Promotion Ideas for Restaurants to Try
There are many marketing promotional tactics that can help your restaurant bring in the holiday spirit and sales. Here are 12 tips to help you get started in figuring out what will work best for your restaurant. Feel free to tweak them based on the type of restaurant you operate.
1. Create a Dedicated Christmas Menu
Serving a dedicated holiday menu gives your guests the chance to celebrate the holidays with loved ones without the extra work and helps you bring in extra sales during a sometimes slow time of year.
You and your staff can craft a special menu, including a few appetizers, mains, desserts, and perhaps a holiday cocktail or two for guests looking to enjoy a traditional Christmas meal at your restaurant. To kick-start restaurant Christmas menu ideas, you can include traditionally eaten foods during the holidays. For example, turkey or ham with a side of mashed potatoes and vegetables, as well as a treat for the end of the meal like a slice of apple pie or fruitcake. As a reminder, remember to include a non-meat option as an alternative, such as an equally wonderful tasting nut roast.
Does your restaurant offer brunch? The holidays are also the perfect time to spruce up your current brunch menu and offer some special themed items for the occasion. For example, experiment with traditional holiday flavors, such as gingerbread waffles and candied bacon. You can also have fun and create reindeer or snowman shaped pancakes for kids (or adults) to enjoy!
When it comes to how long you should offer your holiday menu, keep it seasonal and limit it to the month of December or the 12 days leading up to Christmas Day. By doing so, you can generate excitement and fear of missing out, so guests are tempted to visit, even during the busy holiday season.
2. Serve Up Speciality Christmas Cocktails
Cocktails and other alcoholic beverages are a holiday-must for those wanting to indulge with friends and family. One of the best restaurant Christmas menu ideas is to serve up some popular holiday cocktails that your guests can enjoy for a limited time. A hot toddy, mulled wine, and eggnog are all classic cocktails that you can add to spruce up your drink menu during the holidays.
Follow the Red Lobster’s lead and offer your own specialty cocktails, like a Fireside Martini.
It’s important to also offer other drinks alternatives that do not contain any alcohol, so kids and non-drinkers can also take part in the Christmas spirit at your restaurant! A classic peppermint hot chocolate is always a crowd favorite.
3. Create a To-Go Christmas Bundle
The holidays just scream cozy, stress-free evenings at home relaxing. Not to mention, there are many people who don’t enjoy the task of cooking up a feast in their kitchen, let alone doing all the dishes afterwards. That’s exactly why your restaurant can step up and offer diners a Christmas or holiday bundle to take home and enjoy in the comfort of their own home.
Looking for ideas on what to include in your holiday bundle? Think about including traditional Christmas trimmings, such as turkey, baby carrots, baked potatoes, cranberry sauce, and of course, you can’t forget about dessert. It can be worthwhile to include a popular dish or something that’s an exclusive dish to your restaurant to differentiate your holiday bundle from the rest.
4. Host Private Christmas Parties
Some restaurateurs may experience a slow-down during the holiday season, as more people spend time at home with loved ones. However, you can easily compensate for slower days – especially weekdays like Mondays and Tuesdays – by using your space for more private events.
Become people’s go-to when they think of Christmas parties at restaurants by personalizing the space for specific types of events, such as corporate holiday gatherings or private family parties. You can also offer different types of packages for those who are looking for a sit down meal, passed hors d’oeuvres, an open bar, or another dining experience.
5. Raise Money for a Good Cause
The holidays are a time for generosity, which makes it the perfect time to give back to the community that your restaurant operates in. Show gratitude and give back to those in need by giving away a portion of the proceeds you make to charity. There are few ways to do this, such as donating some or all of the proceeds of a holiday item to the charity of your choice, hosting a local charity dinner, or running a holiday food drive and giving diners an opportunity to donate.
6. 12 Days of Christmas Promotions
What’s better than one Christmas promotion? How about 12! A creative marketing promotion that you and your staff can implement this holiday season is 12 days of Christmas at your restaurant. It’s a unique way to encourage people to try your Christmas specials and encourage repeat visits by having a new offering everyday for 12 days.
A few examples of 12 days of Christmas restaurant ideas you can use for your restaurant include introducing diners to a new Christmas cocktail everyday for 12 days, or for 12 days, offering a slightly different pre-fix menu all based around seasonal ingredients.
Crafting 12 days worth of Christmas restaurant ideas, promotions and discount offerings can help generate excitement and increase sales throughout the whole month of December. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving!
7. Host a Giveaway
What better way to show appreciation for your guests than by hosting a holiday giveaway on your social media channels. For instance, why not give away a romantic holiday dinner for two or a family feast for four. When choosing what to give away as the prize, it’s critical to make sure that it’s enticing enough for people to interact with your post, share with loved ones, and enter for a chance to win.
When creating your own giveaway keep it simple, with a few rules people have to follow to enter your giveaway.
Giveaways can be a valuable marketing tactic to use around the holidays, to help you gain followers, develop a strong brand recognition, and generate engagement for your offerings. It’s a great way to cultivate loyalty, but also to create buzz around your brand.
8. Send Out Christmas Cards
There’s nothing like a personalized card to make customers feel special during this time of year. Send a personalized Christmas card in the mail to your most loyal customers, with a note letting them know how much you appreciate their support this year and wishing them a happy new year.
It can also be worth your time to send a Christmas card to connect with customers who haven’t dined in at your restaurant in a while, to encourage them to make a special visit this holiday season. Pro tip: combine your card with a coupon for a special holiday touch.
9. Holiday Decor
Deck out both the interior and exterior of your restaurant with holiday decorations, such as lights, a Christmas tree, or candles. If it fits your budget and your restaurant’s aesthetics, a giant Santa Claus outside your restaurant can definitely attract people into your restaurant and drum up some business – especially among families.
No matter what restaurant Christmas decoration ideas you choose, keep them on brand with your restaurant. Remember, the goal is to simply spruce up the atmosphere of your restaurant, so use it as the perfect opportunity to get creative with your restaurant’s Christmas decoration ideas.
10. Holiday Events
For your customers who enjoy going out for the holidays and engaging in festive activities, hosting holiday events at your restaurant can be the opportunity to draw in a crowd. Think about what type of event would work best for the type of guests your restaurant caters to.
For example, if you typically have live music at your restaurant, hosting a Christmas carol sing-along can draw people to your restaurant. You can also serve special holiday appetizers and cocktails to make it a memorable experience for your guests.
11. Catering for Holiday Parties
Does your restaurant offer catering services? If so, advertise your catering services to businesses looking for catering for their own holiday parties. Or advertise your services as an exclusive Christmas parties restaurant catering experience by serving individuals hosting parties at their own homes. It’s a great way to promote this part of your business, generate sales from catering for larger parties, and become the go-to for future Christmas parties at restaurants.
12. Gift Cards
Christmas and the holiday season is the ideal window of opportunity to grow your gift card sales, as people are looking for easy and convenient gifts for their loved ones. In fact, “62% say they’d like to receive restaurant gift cards as a holiday present”, according to a survey done by the National Restaurant Association. If you offer physical gift cards, opt for a festive holiday motif and promote the personalization opportunities if you offer digital gift cards.
You can start your restaurant holiday gift card promotions early on your social media with an engaging promotional video or by displaying them by the host stand at the front of your restaurant. Restaurants like Nobu, for example, created a festive promotional Reel to advertise their gift card on Instagram.
To make the most of your Christmas promotion ideas listed above and maximize holiday sales, follow these restaurant Christmas marketing tips.
1. Leverage Social Media
Social media can be your greatest asset, as it’s one of the quickest ways to promote your Christmas offers and specials. If you have a creative idea brewing in your head, turn it into an Instagram Reel to advertise your Christmas promotion. For instance, Panda Express created a holiday video for Instagram that cleverly promotes the brand by using takeout boxes dressed up as Christmas gifts.
Take advantage of your restaurant’s loyalty program to drive more business during the holiday season and well into the new year. Your most loyal customers will be more likely to go to your restaurant and dine-in if there is an extra incentive to visit during the holiday season. For instance, if you know the day before Christmas Eve is typically slower than the other days of the year, you can offer double the points on December 23rd to drive more customers to your restaurant.
3. Don’t Forget About In-Store Advertising
To spread the word about all your restaurant holiday promotions, it’s key to advertise inside your restaurant as well. For example, have your holiday menus prominently displayed, and add clear signage outlining your Christmas specials and promotions.
For any delivery or takeout orders, place an insert inside the bag so customers know about any Christmas promotion your restaurant is offering. It’s a great way to spread the word about your holiday specials beyond your social media platforms.
4. Involve Your Staff
Your staff are your greatest advocates for your restaurant and its brand, so involve them in promoting your restaurant throughout the holiday season. This can be as simple as spreading the word to every diner about your ongoing holiday restaurant promotions, or involve them in volunteer work to give back to the community.
No matter what your plan is, it’s crucial to ensure your holiday restaurant promotions are planned well in advance and training is put into place to relieve the stress off of your staff members. And don’t forget to make sure your staff feels appreciated, especially if they are scheduled to work the holiday season.
Now that you’re better prepared to start planning your Christmas promotions, it’s time to create some of that holiday magic at your restaurant!
Megan is the Content Marketing Specialist at TouchBistro, where she uses her passion for food to write about the restaurant industry. She’s a big “foodie” at heart, and you can always find her enjoying a delicious meal at a restaurant with friends and family, or cooking one up at home. She also loves relaxing with a good book and making progress at the gym.