Many supermarkets have their Christmas stock on the shelves by 1 September, while most shopping centres have their displays up by 1 November.
It may feel like you’re super eager by preparing your hospitality venue for Christmas this early, but being organised only means you’ll be gearing to go when the silly season kicks into gear!
Here’s our checklist of the most important things you need to cover in the lead-up to the most hectic time of the year for hospitality!
Organise special festive events & packages
How are you standing out from the competition this festive period? Do you have something unique to offer?
Perhaps you’ve chosen to host a Christmas dinner on the big day itself. Or maybe you’ve planned a series of special gigs in the lead-up to Christmas Day.
Is your business offering special packages to host Christmas work parties? These usually need to be organised ahead of time, with all the nitty gritty details (such as cost per head, maximum number of guests, entertainment offerings, and menu choices) ironed out.
Have a payment system in place and ready to go as soon as you start promoting your special events. Will reservations require a deposit? Will work functions operate on a tab or in a pre-bought package? Be sure to include any packages – Christmas dinner options, special cocktails, or work party bookings – in your POS system well in advance.
Make sure you’re marketing your events and packages on your social media channels and at your venue to entice both regulars and potential new customers. This even goes for advertising extended opening hours, along with any new Christmas-inspired menu items.
Set up your bookings
Over the Christmas period, patrons flock to restaurants, bars and fast food joints for their Christmas celebrations. Sometimes, these celebrations can involve large numbers of people, if they’re for family gatherings or work Christmas parties.
Setting up your booking system in advance to deal with the influx will help you achieve maximum bookings with minimal fuss.
Don’t forget to advertise that your venue is open for Christmas bookings to encourage people to get in early.
Order and display your Christmas decorations
Any venue that’s devoid of Christmas cheer when December hits feels a little flat. Get into the spirit with some Yuletide décor – this can be as simple as a few ornaments by your till and in the cake display. Or you could go all out with a Christmas tree, mistletoe and tinsel hanging from the ceiling.
If you own a beloved local institution, people may take comfort in seeing the same decorations come out that you’ve already used for the past 10 years.
But if you want to re-inspire your space with something totally new, it could pay to order new Christmas decorations up to two months before the Christmas season hits. Their costs are often markedly reduced in the low season.
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Organise and bulk order your festive menu
Most venues offer a few Christmas specials over the Christmas period, while others provide an all-out, 5-course Christmas dinner. In any case, there’s likely to be a surge in stock orders come Christmas and you don’t want to miss out.
It’s a good idea to confirm your menu and get your bulk orders in early to ensure the best prices and guaranteed stock over the festive season. Think about introducing seasonal produce and ask your suppliers about bulk specials.
Naturally, it’s also important to make sure your staff are on top of any new menu additions. Offering mulled wine or Christmas cocktails? Give your employees a tasting session, during which time you can explain a little about the new items and ensure the staff are across all ingredients, including potential allergens.
Keep your staff organised and happy!
You’ll find your staff have all kinds of commitments this time of year – whether it’s to family or friends, or to getting away altogether!
Get your staff to log their holiday leave requests no later than mid-October. And be on the ball by issuing final rosters by the end of October.
It might be hard to manage, but try to be as flexible as possible. You don’t want to be surrounded by bitter Grinches who have been denied their vacation to Fiji! It might pay to take on some Christmas casuals to cover any absences.
For those who stick around, be sure to keep their spirits up and their sanity in place amid the chaos of Christmas. This means acknowledging their contributions to the business and providing some extra incentives to help them get through the mad rushes.
Arrange a fun Christmas party or work Kris Kringle and encourage them to doff a Santa hat to get into the spirit.