Our Guide to Getting Organised: Planning for Christmas

Summer may only feel a few short weeks ago but in the foodservice industry it is time to get organised for Christmas, especially in the likes of pubs and restaurants.  

The festive period is a great excuse for many people to treat themselves to a meal out - and if you want to stand out in this crowded market with a memorable menu, an inviting atmosphere and a competitive price point then getting organised is key. Done correctly, not only can this help give profits a healthy boost but it also helps develop brand awareness, encourages repeat custom and, ultimately, creates a bit of an extra ‘buzz’ about the place. 

Don’t know where to start? Fear not, we’ve already made your to-do list for you:

Pre-Menu Planning

Remember who you are & garner interest

Whilst driving footfall is important – remind yourself of your target customer and your company ethos so that you can ensure your Christmas menu is perfect for the regulars but also piques the interest of passing trade. 

One sure fire way to garner interest is to involve your existing fans/customers by asking them what they would like to see at Christmas time -  you could ask them on social media or even create a ‘suggestions’ box to add extra intrigue. 

Think about competitors

In this crowded market, standing out is key. Why not scribble down a list of some of the successes (and failures) made by competitors from last year. Did they put an enviable modern twist on a cranberry sauce? Or was it their fairly priced Christmas specials that drew the Christmas crowds or chattering on social media? 

However, there’s a few things to consider when looking at what your competitors are up to; are your (target) customers the same? Do you cook a similar cuisine? And definitely don’t copy for the sake of copying; this exercise is more about working out your USP. 

Menu planning

Here’s for the fun part, the menu creation. However, creating the perfect menu is no easy feat – you have to keep kitchen considerations and pricing in mind but also include food that people want to see.

What’s your show-stopper?

Whilst having an endless repertoire is admirable, when it comes to planning a Christmas menu (any menu for that matter) having fewer, better executed dishes can say a lot about a restaurant. A good meal – (be it a Christmas themed burger - think cranberry relish and chipolata sides) can create a talking point which can be the sole reason someone heads to your establishment. Could your Christmas burger be the new Cronut? 

On a budget? Make subtle tweaks 

A seasonal event, such as Christmas doesn’t have to mean a whole new menu – your existing, well received dishes can simply be given a seasonal makeover. 

For example, if you make your establishment a place to hire out for Christmas events could you do mini party finger food of your restaurant classics? Think Mini Toad in the Hole or even Mini Shepherd’s Pie –why not?

Consider sides

Whilst having a menu with fewer, better executed dishes is a good tactic to employ, you also need to abide by consumer demand of having the option to customise their menus; an approach that Jonathan found has been popular with other establishments. For this reason it’s worth having a few sides on offer that customers can select at their choosing. Consider including McCain Chef Solutions Simply Potato Wedges as well as other potato products to accompany your meals giving customers a chance to create their ideal meal too.  

Be considerate of food intolerances

With an increase in food intolerance diagnoses, a change to labelling laws and a growing awareness and appreciation of personalising your diet, being food intolerant friendly is an important component of your menu. That’s to say that you menu can be customisable to cater to food intolerances. Advertise gluten free options that pack a punch – gluten free meals at Christmas don’t have to be bland!

Behind the Scenes Planning

You know what they say; a workman is only as good as his tools. For a successful Christmas, an efficient kitchen is essential. 

Staffing

Consider advertising for seasonal, temporary work to ensure that both front and back of house during the Christmas rush runs smoothly. 

Advertising

Put together a promotional plan

Why would you go to all that effort without promoting your swanky new menu? Make sure to promote yourself on social media and explore traditional advertising – posters etc. If you have gathered customer participation when putting your menu together – let them know!

Christmas and Beyond...

Whilst Christmas is always a big push for the food industry it’s important to start thinking about how to combat the inevitable January slump with seasonal offers and healthy (but warming) winter menu ideas. 

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