Restaurant Marketing

10 Restaurant Holiday Promotions for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Beyond

Restaurant holiday promotions are a great way to reach new guests and boost profits during the upcoming holiday season. Here’s how.

Holiday season is right around the corner. While it may be hard to believe that 2021 is already coming to a close, it’s time for restaurants to start thinking about how they’ll use the holidays to boost their profits. One great way? Restaurant holiday promotions.

The last few months of the year (and December, in particular) have traditionally given restaurateurs a huge opportunity to drive more sales and boost their profits before year-end. The holidays are also a great time to reach new customers—and check in with old ones. 

But more than that, the holiday season is a time that restaurants can do what they truly do best: Bring people together over food and a shared experience. These 10 restaurant holiday promotions will help you get started. 

10 Restaurant Holiday Promotion Ideas to Try This Year

With the COVID-19 pandemic filling another holiday season with uncertainty for the restaurant industry, you might be struggling to get into the holiday promotions spirit this year. But there’s no reason to be a humbug! These promotion ideas will help you take advantage of good cheer—and keep things socially distanced and safe—during the holidays.

Decorate Everywhere (Including digitally)

One of the best ways you can get into the holiday spirit is by decorating your restaurant. Using window displays, table dressings, lighting, and even your menu design, you can overhaul your look for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, or any other holiday you want to celebrate.

Keep in mind that this year, indoor dining may not be safe everywhere. So if possible, decorate an outdoor space and add heaters so you can offer festive patio dining even when there’s a winter chill.

And in light of the pandemic (and the fact that the digital world is becoming more and more important for restaurants), don’t neglect to decorate your online channels. You can give your website a dark and spooky new template for Halloween, or add a festive Christmas pop-up to announce your seasonal menu or new menu items. You can share holiday-themed photos on your social media, and don’t forget to update your online menu with any holiday-themed specials you’re offering.

Send Out Holiday Cards

If you have a list of your guests’ contact information, like their addresses or even just their email addresses, help promote your holiday offerings by sending them greeting cards. You can even include a coupon or a discount to help entice them to visit your restaurant during the holiday season.

Host a Holiday Party (Even If It’s Virtual)

While this may not be the best year to pack your space for a holiday party, the pandemic has led to the invention of all kinds of clever and fun ways to host a party virtually. One of our favorites is online trivia nights, which your restaurant can host with a holiday theme. Some other ideas: A virtual costume party, a Zoom call with Santa, a New Year’s Eve countdown hosted by your restaurant, or an outdoor, socially distanced soiree—like trunk-or-treating in your parking lot.

Offer New Catering and Takeout Options

For a year when going out to eat on the holidays may not be practical, many guests may turn to takeout to get their favorite restaurant holiday meals. Your restaurant can capitalize on this by expanding your catering and takeout options for the holiday season.

Some ideas for this include:

  • Offering catering for outdoor holiday parties;
  • Offering holiday meal boxes for pickup or delivery;
  • Putting together meal kits that guests can use to serve up a restaurant-quality holiday meal at home;
  • Including holiday specials and promotions for online ordering, so guests can enjoy them as pickup or delivery orders.

Think Outside the Box for Holiday Offerings

Another way to embrace the holiday season is to get creative about the types of holiday specials and meals your restaurant can offer. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Late-night happy hour and small plates on Halloween;
  • A prix-fixe menu for Thanksgiving dinner;
  • A Christmas Eve happy hour;
  • A Christmas brunch;
  • Complimentary champagne toasts on New Year’s Eve.

Even if your restaurant typically only offers specific services (like breakfast- or dinner-only), the holidays are a great time to expand your offerings to help guests celebrate in unique and memorable ways.

Offer Holiday-Themed Specials

Even if your restaurant isn’t expanding service for the holidays, you can still get into the festive spirit by offering your guests some seasonal specials. Here are some ideas for restaurants looking for ways to celebrate through their menu offerings:

  • Offer a traditional holiday entree as a chef’s special;
  • Create a special holiday menu with themed dishes;
  • Serve holiday dishes family-style for guests who are celebrating in groups;
  • Offer themed appetizers or drink specials that capture the holiday spirit.

Promote Gift Cards

Around gift-giving holidays, promoting gift cards can help restaurants give a big boost to their bottom line. By offering gift cards printed with holiday graphics, or by promoting them as specials (say, offering a discount to guests who purchase multiple gift cards), you can encourage guests to treat their loved ones to a meal at your restaurant—while also boosting holiday profits.

Reach Out to Valued Guests

While it’s a good marketing strategy to send holiday greetings to every guest for whom you have contact information, it can also help to send an extra-special, personalized card to your most loyal customers: Those who are regulars, your highest spenders, and anyone else in your customer base whom you especially value.

While all restaurants guests are valuable, studies have shown that retaining guests who make repeat visits is a tried-and-true way to boost profits over time.

Have a Holiday Contest or Giveaway

The holidays are a great time to attract new visitors to your restaurant by hosting a contest or giveaway. Think ugly sweater contests or gift exchanges among guests. This is also a great opportunity to partner with other local businesses and offer gift cards, prizes, or presents.

Spread Holiday Cheer by Giving Back

And finally, there are the types of restaurant holiday promotions that do good. By giving back to your community, you can attract more local guests who appreciate a restaurant that builds holiday goodwill into its marketing strategy.

Some ideas for charity-related promotions include:

  • Making a donation with each purchase made at your restaurant;
  • Organizing a gift guide for a local nonprofit or shelter;
  • Making your restaurant into a donation center for your local food bank (you can even offer discounts or other incentives to guests who bring a donation with them when they come to eat);
  • Providing free meals for front-line workers in your community.

While the holidays are a great time for restaurants to boost their profits, it’s important to remember the real meaning of the season: Bringing people together and building stronger communities.

Tips for Successful Restaurant Holiday Promotions

No matter how many great restaurant holiday promotion ideas you have, it’s equally important to implement them strategically. The time of year when holiday promotions are likely to be most successful (from Halloween to New Year’s) is also a time when restaurants can face staffing and scheduling challenges.

Here’s how to overcome those and make your holiday promotions as successful as possible.

Prepare Your Staff Ahead of Time

The holidays can be a tricky time for staffing a restaurant, since you’ll likely need to balance time-off requests with the need to have extra staff to take care of the holiday rush. That’s why many restaurants choose to hire seasonal staff, but with this year’s labor shortage, that may be difficult.

Instead, rely on technology to help ease staffing concerns. And throughout the holidays, make sure your employees feel valued and appreciated—whether that’s by giving them bonuses, holiday gifts, or special shift meals.

Confirm Dates with Your Suppliers

Throughout the holiday season, there are likely to be days your suppliers aren’t open or they’re rescheduling deliveries to meet seasonal demand. Before the holiday season gets into full swing, check in with them to see if you’ll need to adjust any of your regular orders. If you need more ingredients or supplies, try to order far enough ahead of time to be able to ride out any delays.

Start Spreading the Word Early

Your holiday promotions won’t do you much good if your guests don’t know about them. That’s why now is the time to start promoting them, through all your normal restaurant marketing channels (more on that below).

Market Your Promotions In-Person

The first place to market your upcoming holiday promotions is in-person, at your restaurant. Put up flyers or advertise promotions on signage throughout your restaurant. Make sure your front-of-house staff is thoroughly trained about upcoming promotions, so they can share them with your guests.

Market Your Promotions Online

And finally, your digital channels are another important place to market restaurant holiday promotions. Make sure to add information about them to your website and social media channels (using a fun hashtag or two, if possible). Reach out to your customers via email, and include information in your restaurant newsletter, if you have one.

Reaching out to guests via all those different digital channels can be difficult—unless you use Popmenu. Popmenu is the all-in-one digital toolkit for modern restaurants, simplifying every aspect of their online presence—from their website to their online menu to their Facebook and Google My Business profiles—in one easy-to-use dashboard. Before this holiday season, give your restaurant the gift of time and money-saving technology with Popmenu.

Tis the season to grow your restaurant’s customer base, strengthen bonds with regulars, spread holiday cheer, and bring people together to share a meal. Do it all with the right restaurant holiday promotions—and Popmenu. Schedule your free demo today.

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