5 Christmas marketing ideas

By Megan Prevost

Christmas is just around the corner, which means everyone is looking for that perfect present or special place to spend time with their loved ones. It also means it’s time to ramp up those holiday marketing campaigns! The happiest season is the busiest season, too, so you need to stand out from the crowd to capture the attention of new and existing guests.

Your restaurant could be just one stop of many, or you could become an attraction throughout the holidays!

Customers want a memorable experience with their friends and family, and you want to engage customers and generate loyalty. It’s the perfect match. There are lots of things you can do to get your guests excited and capitalize on the fun of the season at the same time.  

1. Add some cheer to your restaurant

“You have to visit. The food was good, and the vibe was amazing!” Customers may come for the food, but they stay for the atmosphere. Gorgeous holiday decor will have your customers snapping photos at every corner and keeping that holiday spirit bright. Consider your target audience, deck the halls, and set the mood:

  • Create a whimsical new menu with holiday specials
  • Play festive music softly in the background
  • String up garland, twinkling lights, and decorative wreaths
  • Paint windows with wintry scenes or themed wall displays
  • Accent tables and chairs with silver, gold, and your favourite seasonal colours
  • Playfully trim trees with presents and baubles
  • Dress your staff in festive colours

Get creative. Turning your restaurant into an interactive winter wonderland will make your guests say “You have to visit!” to everyone they know.

2. Offer gift card promotions

The holiday season is also the season of gift cards – and it doesn’t end when the card is purchased. Gift cards encourage the recipient to bring friends and family to share a meal when they visit.  

Set up the cards in an attractive display that is easily seen. You can give gift-givers incentives for buying multiples or offer a smaller amount of money on a separate gift card when a larger dollar amount is purchased. Coupon books are another way to foster sales, as guests are encouraged to return for another tasty (lightly discounted) bite.

3. Provide a Christmas feast

Food promotions and deals are an excellent way to enthrall your patrons. You can offer a holiday meal where guests can pick between certain appetizers, salads, entrées, and desserts. You don’t have to offer a discount here. Customers will want to try the specials and few guests will compare the pricing to your traditional menu.  

Special lunch prices and limited-time items can also be a big draw. Don’t forget two-for-one meals! With this one, customers will be incentivized to bring in more guests to take you up on the offer.

4. Give a gift that keeps on giving

Providing customers with a small gift may seem counterintuitive. But, no matter what the item, everyone loves the concept of ‘free.’ This can incentivize new customers and could be what stops them from passing you by. Maybe it’s a small coaster with your restaurant’s name or even a cute little magnet. This is a great time to showcase your holiday swag!

If it’s beyond your budget, not to worry. The gift could even be in the form of coupons for a return purchase or extra loyalty incentives. Even something as small as a Hershey’s kiss or a simple thank you card with the receipt can mean a lot to your customers.

5. Host festive events

We love a party, and your customers do too. Live music, dances, karaoke, or even a singles event can draw in a crowd. Your adult patrons might love a themed happy hour while the little ones attend an event where they write letters to Santa, complete with holiday movies playing on the speakers.

Contests are another excellent way to engrain your restaurant in the community. You could create a hashtag and have customers post their best Christmas memory or best photo of their meal and provide a prize to the winner. An ugly sweater contest, trivia night, or maybe an art contest could be fun. The prizes could be anything from a catered holiday meal to a gift card or even Christmas swag.

Remember that giving back to your community is a fantastic way to market yourself so partnering with a charity could increase your standing among your customers. You could donate some of the profits for an event or host a food drive. Ask guests to bring in a small present for those who are unable to provide toys for their own children and reward the charity with a coupon or small discount.

RELATED: ‘Tis the season for selling gift cards

Marketing your brand

Remember, none of these ideas will help unless people know about them. It’s your job to spread the word about your restaurant and your holiday fun. Flood social media with eye-catching snippets and photos of your food being enjoyed by your guests. Update your website, email loyal customers, or hang a sign to let everyone know your restaurant is the place to be this Christmas season.

Megan Prevost is a contributing writer for RestoBiz and a Content Manager for MustHaveMenus. Her work has also appeared in App Institute, Bar Business, Modern Restaurant Management, Small Business Currents, PMQ, FSR, The Daily Fandom, and FanSided.