The holidays are just around the corner, and this time of year is about fun, good cheer, getting together with friends and celebrating. As a restaurant operator, it’s time to start thinking about how you can make your restaurant or foodservice operation a fun and festive place to be. When Christmas decorations go up, so do the spirits of your customers and employees alike.
Holiday decorations can be visually stunning, are an essential part of any business and a big draw to getting more customers. Think about how effective the Christmas windows are in New York City. People fly to New York just to see these windows!
Atmosphere is probably at least half of the reason why people are drawn to a certain place to eat. If your restaurant operation is decorated to the tilt, and appears to offer a genuine feeling of Christmas cheer, customers would be more likely to choose your business over your competition to throw their holiday party.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto, offers these clever decorating ideas that will not only help save you money, but will help draw in extra customers this holiday season as well!
1. Organize and categorize your existing decorations
Before you begin anything, take out all your holiday decorations, and make sure that everything is in working order. Then assess what you have. Do your decorations look like they came from 1980? Do they look like they came from the dollar store? Do they match your restaurant’s brand identity? Do you have enough products to make a statement? If not, it might be time to dump these decorations and start fresh.
2. Clean before your decorate
Make sure your restaurant sparkles before you begin putting up your holiday decorations. Dust all your fixtures, clean the windows, and make sure all your walls, ceilings and floors are spotless. Assign each staff member a section of the restaurant to speed up the process.
3. Select a theme
Before you begin decorating, make a plan for your restaurant. While red and green are most common for Christmas, and blue and silver for Hanukkah, these colours might clash with the existing colours of your operation. Look online for different themes, or take a trip to your local arts and crafts store for more ideas. Like branding, all your decorations should have a cohesive flow matching the themes and colours of your restaurant.
4. Use natural elements
There is no need to spend thousands on dollars on new, fancy decorations. Use natural elements such as evergreen branches, pinecones, or berries with candles. Spray-paint these items according to the colours and themes you selected. Buy a real Christmas tree, so the tree’s natural fragrance will alert your customers’ senses.
5. Wrap it up
Wrap empty boxes, empty soup and tomato cans, or other items in your kitchen with colourful wrapping paper, and place them in different areas of your restaurant, as well as under the tree. Place the wrapped packages at different heights to create more depth.
6. Use candles and vases
Candles and glass vases are inexpensive and versatile items to use for decorating. Take a clear vase, fill it up with water, add holiday-coloured food colouring and float candles in them, and place one on each table. Or you can line up several in a row to create a cool, holiday accent.
7. Dress up lighting fixtures
For the holiday season, you should bring a complete change to your lighting arrangements. To bring an absolute festive mood, include a few brighter lights to make the entrance more attractive. And by stringing Christmas lights all throughout your operation, you immediately add an element of festive cheer.
8. Engage your staff
Decorating can be a lot of work, so make it fun and rewarding. Throw a decorating party on a night that your operation is closed, and invite the entire staff to enjoy some food and drinks while you decorate. Play music, and get your staff in the festive mood by working together to create a beautiful, magical place that each and every staff member can be proud of.
9. Pace yourself
The holidays are an incredibly busy time and there is much to prepare. Pace yourself properly and don’t work yourself or your staff into a frenzy or you will all burn out. Plan accordingly, and make sure that you and your employees all have scheduled time to rest and replenish energy.
About the author:
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She is recognized as one of the best restaurant consultants in Toronto. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655, or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com.