christmas restaurant promotion ideas

We know that as a restaurant owner or manager, December is an extremely busy month for you. If you’re struggling with coming up with Christmas restaurant promotion ideas or if you just want to add to your existing list, here are 20 ways to get your customers’ attention this holiday season and boost your sales.

1. Let people know you are one of the restaurants open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Since there aren’t many restaurants open on Christmas, this is your chance to stand out in the crowd by spreading far and wide that you’re the exception. Make sure you target every possible means of communicating with your customers.

Update your website

When users visit your website, they should see that they can spend Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in your restaurant. Create a festive banner featuring traditional Christmas colors like red, green, and gold to make the announcement in style, and post it on your homepage. Even a simple “We’re open on Christmas Day!” can do the trick.

restaurant open on christmas screenshot

Post on social media

Most people are probably going to see you’re open on Christmas on social media, so don’t forget to create posts for each of the platforms you use. Here is an example of a festive post you can use on Facebook.

open on christmas post example

Pin your posts to prioritize them over the rest and give them more visibility.

pin to top of page example

Give out flyers

Social media might be the new and improved flyer, but let’s not completely disregard what seems like neanderthal forms of communication just yet, okay? Give out flyers and put up posters throughout the neighborhood. Use your specials board to let passersby know that they can visit you at Christmas.

join us for christmas dinner flyer

2. Take Christmas restaurant reservations

Now that you’ve convinced people spending Christmas in your establishment is the best choice, it’s time to figure out more or less how many people to expect and where to sit them. That’s easy if you take reservations. However, we also advise saving some seats for people who will casually drop by that day without a reservation.

Free Table Reservation System For Restaurants So you can easily take reservations this Christmas.

Most Christmas offers in restaurants are traditional, and that’s good, but it’s not enough. To draw customers in, create a to-die-for Christmas-themed menu that includes both traditional dishes and options for people for whom Christmas is just another day of the year (we call those Grinches). Here are some easy dinner specials for restaurants that spell D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S.

  • Herb-roasted turkey and stuffing
  • Honey glazed ham
  • Sour cream and cheddar baked mashed potatoes
  • Cranberry-apple gravy
  • Brussels sprouts with ginger and orange
  • Christmas pudding
  • Gingerbread topped fruitcake

christmas pudding cake

Remember to also make sure you have enough of every ingredient needed to create your signature specials. You wouldn’t want to have to tell a customer you’re out of their favorite dish.

Christmas buffet

Consider offering a buffet option as well, for people who want to eat something quick and on the go. You can serve dishes like:

  • Wreath-shaped appetizer
  • Caramelized mushroom tartlets
  • Steak on sticks
  • Sausage, cranberry, and chestnut rolls
  • Chocolate dipped chips with festive sprinkles
  • Cupcake Christmas tree

green cupcakes christmas tree

Cupcake Christmas Tree

Christmas brunch

For that sweet spot between morning and afternoon, come up with some festive Christmas brunch ideas that feature treats like:

  • Glazed blueberry rolls
  • Egg and ham breakfast sandwiches
  • Kiwi Christmas tree
  • Rudolph pancakes
  • Apple pie granola

rudolph shaped pancake

Rudolph Pancake

Vegetarian and gluten-free Christmas menu

Don’t forget to cater to everyone’s needs by including vegetarian and gluten-free dishes on your Christmas menu. Some options would be:

  • Honey balsamic glazed brussels sprouts
  • Pumpkin penne
  • Brown and wild rice stuffing
  • Flourless chocolate and pear cake

Christmas-themed drinks

The old saying might not go Ho, Ho, Ho, and a bottle of rum, but alcoholic beverages are a must at Christmas dinner. How else are your guests going to survive chatting about politics with their loud relatives for 2 hours? These Christmas-themed drinks not only look nice, but they’re also delicious:

  • Christmas snowstorm margaritas
  • Hot buttered rum
  • Pecan pie martini

Of course, not all beverages have to be alcoholic, so brainstorm some virgin Christmas cocktail ideas as well, and don’t forget about the coffee and hot chocolate. Christmas coffee specialties are a man’s best friend when that midday slump hits hard.

candy cane hot chocolate mug

4. Come up with unique, creative restaurant specials

To attract even the most non-traditional of customers, let your restaurant Christmas specials speak for themselves. Consider some of the following dishes:

  • Christmas pizza featuring turkey, pigs in blankets, and stuffing
  • Lamb meatballs with curry sauce
  • White spinach pesto lasagna
  • No-bake mint Oreo cheesecake pie

Restaurant marketing is a changing landscape, which is why you have to keep up with the trends to discover the best types of promotions for restaurants this holiday season.

Christmas marketing campaign ideas

Since December is a time of giving, many of the most successful Christmas restaurant promotion ideas for the season involve gift-giving, charity, discounts, vouchers, and anything else that can spread the joy of Christmas to as many people as possible. Below, we’ll get into detail regarding each of these Christmas marketing ideas for restaurants.

Christmas social media ideas

Tap into the gold mine that is social media marketing to draw in even more customers this Christmas. Decorate your social media profiles as you would your restaurant using festive banners and profile pictures. Use Instagram to post stories showcasing some of the delicious meals customers can expect or “this vs. that” questions like “What is your favorite Christmas dessert, pudding or pie?”

Christmas pudding vs christmas pie

Create your own hashtag and encourage customers to use it when they inevitably share photos of the food they eat at your restaurant (yes, it’s that delicious). Engage your followers by asking them typical Christmas questions like who they are celebrating with, what they’re most thankful for, or what the best part of Christmas day is for them.

These two brands have managed to use social media to their advantage at Christmas, and the results are inspiring. Take a page out of their book for extra engagement on social media:

  • Costa Coffee got Reverend Kate Bottley to taste their Chocolate Yule Log blindfolded and shared the results on Instagram stories. Partner up with influencers and get them to taste some of your dishes.
  • M&M’s released a special edition Gingerbread Cookie Bites M&M’s just in time for Christmas and shared an appealing photo of them on Facebook. Plus, they provided a link to the full recipe. Consider sharing some of your recipes with the public on social media.

Social media is also a great platform for giveaways and contests, but more on that later.

12 days of Christmas promotion ideas

12 days of Christmas give you 12 Christmas restaurant promotion ideas to make your customers happy. Take advantage of each and every one of them. Here are some examples of what you can do to celebrate these 12 days:

Day 1: Free dessert for people wearing a Christmas sweater

Day 2: 50% off all Christmas-themed drinks

Day 3: Everyone who posts a picture of your Christmas meals gets a complimentary coffee

Day 4: Customers who make reservations for Christmas Day get 10% off

Day 5: 3-for-2 appetizers

Day 6: Everyone who donates to a charity gets a coupon for a free alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink

Day 7: Open bar for groups larger than 10 people who make a reservation for Christmas Eve

Day 8: Bring a loved one and they get a complimentary dessert of their choosing

Day 9: Everyone who buys the full Christmas Day menu gets a mystery gift box

Day 10: People who subscribe to your newsletter get 30% off Christmas brunch

Day 11: Complimentary gingerbread for anyone wearing a Santa hat

Day 12: Free coffee voucher that you can use on January 1st with any purchase

If you need even more unique restaurant promotion ideas, feel free to check out our article: 15 Unique Restaurant Promotion Ideas that Will Increase Loyalty in 2019. Having a wide range of Christmas restaurant promotion ideas is great.

However…

6. Keep it simple with your restaurant marketing ideas for December

Holiday marketing for restaurants doesn’t have to be complicated. Especially since you don’t have a lot of time left to prepare, you should focus on simple holiday campaigns that capitalize on people’s emotions. Christmas is all about good feelings and positive thinking, so your Christmas restaurant promotion ideas should exude that. To get inspired, here are some simple yet effective taglines you could use:

  • From Our Kitchen to Your Belly
  • Sugar and Spice Make Christmas Nice – Delicious Christmas specials and desserts at [restaurant name]
  • Christmas Just Got Cheesier – 50% off all our holiday cheese platters
  • All We Want for Christmas Is You

Whenever you brainstorm campaign ideas, remember not to stray away from your brand’s message. Experimenting is good, but make sure you remind loyal customers why they chose you in the first place.

7. Decorate for a Christmas themed restaurant look

Hang a wreath on your door

Nothing says Christmas like a winter greenery, pine cone, and berries wreath welcoming customers into your establishment.

christmas wreath on door

Decorate your windows

Attract passersby with a cozy and festive window display. You can use white spray paint to draw snowflakes on your windows, and hang red and green ornaments.

Hang fairy lights

Fairy lights are a staple of Christmas. Hang them everywhere, making sure you don’t go overboard. Put some on your windows, around the bar, or even hanging from the ceiling.

Bring in a Christmas tree

There’s nothing better than a Christmas tree to get you in a festive mood. Show you care about the environment by buying an artificial one that you can use for years to come, and decorate it with your staff.

Pro Tip: Take pictures of the process and post them on social media.

Put together themed centerpieces

Centerpieces featuring candles, ornaments, berries, greenery, and pine cones are traditional choices that you can’t go wrong with. For a unique centerpiece, decorate bottles with greenery, ornaments, and fairy lights.

Blast Christmas music

Last but not least, put the finishing touches on the Christmas atmosphere by putting together a festive playlist featuring beloved Christmas songs.

8. Offer Christmas restaurant deals & gift cards

Take advantage of the 12 Days of Christmas campaign to offer people who come into your restaurant unique deals and gift cards. From discounts on specific dishes to free drinks or desserts if they order the full Christmas menu, your Christmas restaurant promotion ideas won’t go unappreciated.

Gift cards for purchases in January that they can get for themselves or a loved one will ensure they become return customers.

9. Be the go-to restaurant for Christmas parties & events

Make your restaurant the place to be this holiday season by throwing some amazing themed parties. If you’re wondering how to advertise Christmas parties on a budget, the easiest answer is to post them on your website, share them on social media, and spread the word offline using flyers and posters. Here are some themes you can use:

Karaoke Christmas bash

‘Tis the season to sing our hearts out even if we’re tone-deaf, and everybody has to just deal with it. Organize a karaoke party with exclusively Christmas songs and offer a free drink to everyone brave enough to sing.

Ugly Christmas sweater contest

A classic that you simply can’t go wrong with. The ugliest sweater gets a free meal and you get cheap publicity.

Secret Santa

Everyone who brings a gift will get a voucher, as well as a lovely gift from a kind stranger. We suggest a White Elephant gift exchange for fits of laughter and good cheer.

restaurant christmas events collage

***Download our free flyer designs for these 3 Christmas-themed events and start spreading the joy!***

10. Organize and advertise Christmas photography promotions

People love taking photos at Christmas to remind themselves of the holiday cheer all year long. Get in on it by organizing a contest on Instagram.

Dare people to take a picture in front of your Christmas tree wearing the most Christmasy outfit they can think of. The person who gets the most likes will receive a 2-people voucher that they can use with a loved one.

To get even more from your Christmas restaurant promotion ideas, don’t forget to encourage people to use your personalized hashtag. This brings me to my next point.

11. Create your own Christmas promotion message

Overtly promotional messages won’t get you where you want to go in the long run. You want people to remember your brand, but the best way to do that is not to constantly remind them of it, but to create a message or a hashtag that is representative of your business and the Christmas spirit.

For example, in 2016, Spotify partnered with Sonos and created the #PlaylistPotluck, in which everyone could add a song. This hashtag, together with the tagline “One home. One host. Everyone brings a dish.” was extremely successful, and you can replicate that success in your restaurant.

Replace “playlist” with your restaurant’s name (e.g. #GloriaRestaurantPotluck) and create an event on Facebook. Encourage people to bring one dish each, with the promise you’ll be in charge of the drinks (open bar for everyone all night long featuring cocktails, long drinks, soft drinks, coffee, etc.). Sprinkle some surprises throughout the night like a raffle or a giveaway to get people excited.

12. Host a Christmas giveaway

Everyone loves free stuff, especially around the holidays. Host a giveaway on your website or social media and offer the winner a gift basket filled with delicious Christmas goodies.

To get even more engagement, make the giveaway user-generated. To participate, users have to submit their favorite Christmas recipes. As a surprise, you can make their wish come true and cook that meal for them in your restaurant.

13. Try out some of these Christmas contest ideas

We Make Your Wish Come True

Ask people to come into your restaurant and submit their Christmas wish into Santa’s Miracle Box. A couple of days before Christmas, draw one of the cards and make that person’s wish a reality.

Caption This

This trend has taken social media by storm, and holiday images are perfect for coming up with creative Christmas restaurant promotion ideas. Post a funny Christmas photo on your Instagram and ask people to “caption this.” The person who gets the most likes receives a discount voucher.

Walmart used a kitty on a skateboard and asked their followers to “caption this.” You can use a photo of a kid enjoying a plate of food and take the opportunity to announce your Christmas specials are kid-friendly as well.

#WorstChristmasPhoto

We all know those awkward family photos where everybody is wearing matching sweaters. Ask people to submit theirs for a chance to win a meal for everyone in the picture. AwkwardFamilyPhotos has a full archive inspired by this idea.

14. Partner up with food influencers

Food influencers have been making people drool ever since social media became a thing. This Christmas, consider partnering up with a local food influencer that can promote your brand and delicious food to their followers.

Find influencers in your area using tools like the one from Socialbakers. All you have to do is select your region, an interest (in this case, food), and click on the “Find Influencers” button.

15. Reward loyal customers & invite them to your restaurant

Even though one of your main goals should be to get new customers, it’s important to remember the old ones as well. Show them you care by sending them a Christmas card featuring a heart-warming message and an invitation to visit your restaurant for 20% off the holiday menu.

christmas dinner invitation

Ask them to RSVP online by making a reservation. Check out GloriaFood’s table booking system for restaurants to add the feature to your website in a matter of minutes.

16. Give back to the less fortunate

Christmas is a time to be kind, generous, and remember those in need. One of the most effective Christmas restaurant promotion ideas involves focusing on making someone else happy. Set up a donation box in your restaurant and reward people who donate.

We particularly like the “buy one give one” idea that encourages customers to buy more from you knowing that every purchase they make means one purchase for someone in need.

17. Feature your team in a fun and festive holiday video

Are you familiar with H&M’s 2016 holiday short film directed by Wes Anderson and starring Adrien Brody? Without making their brand obvious, H&M managed to create a compelling story featuring quirky characters (that just so happened to wear H&M clothes).

Although the chances of you getting Wes Anderson and Adrien Brody are slim (or maybe not?), you can shoot a holiday video yourself in which you walk around your restaurant and feature your team. Don’t forget to make the kitchen the center of attention. People will want to know what to expect when they come to dine in your establishment.

18. Make your restaurant pet-friendly – #petsof(restaurant name)

Pets are family for many people, especially for those who don’t get to spend their holidays with other people. Allow customers to bring in their pets and ask for their permission to feature them on social media using the hashtag #petsof and your restaurant’s name.cat wearing santa hat

19. Offer party packages for companies and families

Especially if your restaurant is located around office buildings, offer packages for companies that want to throw Christmas parties for their employees. The same goes for large families that don’t feel like cooking and want to enjoy a restaurant dinner. Offer discounts and perks like an open bar or get inspiration from the 12 Days of Christmas restaurant promotion ideas above.

20. Take advantage of the post-Christmas hype

Christmas may be over, but that doesn’t mean your holiday promotions have to be too. Keep the hype going until New Year with post-Christmas events and offers. Introduce a limited-edition dish that will only be available from the 26th until the 31st or have a Last Day of the Year Sale on all your Christmas dishes.

That’s a Wrap

Whatever your budget or time limit, you can find a couple of Christmas restaurant promotion ideas that work for your business. The important thing is to get creative and come up with a marketing plan that will both drive old customers to your establishment and entice new ones to give it a try.

Tradition is important, but keep an open mind and experiment with out-of-the-box restaurant marketing ideas for December to give your customers an unforgettable Christmas experience.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She delivers business-optimized content to help restaurants boost sales and grow their brand.