restaurant holiday marketing
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

Be one step ahead of the holiday craziness by planning your restaurant menu, opening hours, and employee schedule in advance. Create a restaurant holiday marketing strategy to attract new customers, reward those who have been with you through the year, and boost end-of-year sales.

What is Holiday Marketing?

Holiday marketing (also known as seasonal marketing) centers on marketing campaigns targeting certain holidays, particularly the winter holidays. These campaigns can be distributed through different marketing channels, from website to social media, email, or texts. They usually contain valuable offers meant to entice customers and boost the brand’s profits around the holidays.

Restaurant Holiday Planning 101

Preparing your restaurant for the holiday season is vital to good restaurant management and customer service. Keep your staff and customers happy by telling them what to expect from your schedule, menu, and promotions this holiday season.

1. Update your opening hours on every platform

You need to update your schedule if you want to stay open longer or less around the holidays. This way, you’ll avoid disappointing customers who may wish to pay an impromptu visit to your restaurant.

Update your opening hours on your website, social media, and Google Business Profile, as well as on platforms like Yelp or TripAdvisor.

If you want to have shorter hours for dine-in in December, but extended hours for delivery and pickup, you can easily set those up using our free online ordering system.

Once you sign up and enter your basic information, you can go to Setup -> Services & opening hours -> Opening Hours and set separate opening hours for dine-in, pickup, delivery, and even table reservations.

restaurant holiday marketing: update your opening hours

Once you save these opening hours, the changes will be immediately propagated to your website and menu.

To ensure no one misses your opening hours, you can get a sales-optimized website from us. The website we generate contains a highly visible opening hours section on the homepage that’s impossible to miss.

restaurant holiday schedule example

Sales and SEO-optimized website for your restaurant Make money selling your food online

You can also use the “Add special day/holiday” option to update your opening hours or set your restaurant as closed for Christmas, New Year’s, or any other holiday.

The good thing about this feature is that it allows you to also add a custom message that will be displayed in your menu if someone wants to place an order.

add a restaurant closing notice to customers

The image above contains a restaurant closed notice sample that you can use to generate excitement for your holiday promotions even when your restaurant is closed:

“We’re taking a break this Christmas Day, but we will be back on the 26th with delicious food and exciting promotions!”

2. Share your new schedule on social media (free template)

Once you’re done creating your restaurant holiday schedule, you need to share it with your social media followers. Sure, you could write a wall of text, but images are much more impactful.

We’ve created a holiday schedule template you can customize with your restaurant’s branding and logo and use on all your social media profiles.

restaurant holiday schedule template

Download it for free and post it on social media to inform customers of your schedule.

3. Pause services when you get overwhelmed

The holiday season can be a chaotic time for restaurant owners. When your tables are full, and you have too many pending orders to deliver, you might not want to accept any new ones.

Luckily, you can quickly pause any services you want from admin -> Setup -> Services & opening hours -> Opening Hours – > Pause services and add a custom message for your customers.

is your restaurant closed for vacation? Pause your services

4. Add a restaurant holiday notice on your website

To ensure everyone who visits your website is immediately aware of any schedule changes, use the “Important Announcement” section of our sales-optimized website. Your note will be displayed as a sticky header on your website.

holiday marketing for restaurants: add a closing notice to your website

If you’d like to wish your customers Happy Holidays and thank them for their patronage, use the “Announcement” section. Write a longer, heartfelt message that will show up on your homepage.

restaurant marketing ideas for december: wish your customers happy holidays

5. Optimize holiday staffing to maximize efficiency

Depending on your schedule during the holidays, you might only need part of your team to run the restaurant. Allow employees to take time off ahead of time, so you know whom you can count on around the holidays.

On the contrary, if you want to prolong business hours, you will need additional help to avoid overwhelming your existing staff with extra tasks.

You might also like: 5 Ways to Make Your Restaurant Employee Scheduling Easier

If employees are willing to work overtime, ensure they’re compensated fairly and consider offering Christmas bonuses and/or performance rewards to keep your staff happy and motivated.

Furthermore, it is customary to come up with some restaurant holiday party ideas to show appreciation for your team’s hard work all year round. Consider closing your restaurant on one of its less busy days for the celebration.

Use a table reservation system to manage your tables

The holiday season will keep you busy with creating a restaurant festive menu, adding promotions, decorating, etc. You don’t need the extra stress of answering phones to take table reservations.

Make it easier for both you and your clients and implement a table reservation system that will allow customers to book a table directly on your website. Go to admin -> Setup -> Services & opening hours -> Table reservation to get started.

restaurants with holiday menus

You will be able to manage the reservations from the order-taking platform. This way, you always know how many occupied and free tables you have, so you can plan your inventory and staff holiday scheduling accordingly.

Furthermore, you can allow clients to pre-order their food so you can serve more clients in a day. Customers choose what they want to eat when making a reservation and they have the option to pay online or at your location.

Restaurant Holiday Marketing Strategy 101

Once you’re done with the logistics of organizing your restaurant for the holiday season, it’s time to focus on promoting it to increase end-of-year sales.

1. Create some restaurant holiday specials

When it comes to restaurant holiday marketing, there’s nothing easier than adding some winter menu items to your regular menu. Advertising them as limited-time specials will motivate customers to try them before they run out.

Brainstorm some December restaurant specials like:

  • Ginger and turmeric noodle soup
  • Coconut chickpeas with winter squash
  • Lemon and herb roast turkey
  • Marinated pork with roasted olives and beans
  • Roasted lamb chops with brown sugar glaze
  • Sticky date pudding
  • Christmas cranberry cake
  • Hot buttered rum
  • Chocolate eggnog
  • Jasmine and ginger tea

Adding these new menu items to your online menu is easy. Follow the tutorial below to learn how to set up your online menu.

Consent needed

2. Make special restaurant holiday menus for online ordering

Usually, customers choose to spend the holidays at home, with their friends and families. But that doesn’t mean they also want to cook at home. It can be overwhelming to do the shopping, cleaning, budgeting, etc. and also create a meal for everyone.

Your business can be the solution they are looking for if you create some restaurant holiday menus that include everything they need for a dinner with their loved ones, such as a variety of mains, sides, desserts, and drinks.

december food promotions

If you top it up with some attractive holiday restaurant deals such as free delivery, 10% for a big order and a surprise free dessert, you will win a loyal customer.

3. Offer unique restaurant holiday promotions

Mouth-watering winter dishes will already draw a crowd to your restaurant. Suppose those dishes are also discounted or come with freebies or special bundles. In that case, customers won’t be able to resist them.

Make December the month of promotions at your restaurant, and you’ll notice a spike in sales.

Create any restaurant promotion you want in minutes Treat customers this holiday season, and they’ll come back again and again

Here are some restaurant holiday promotion ideas to get inspired by:

  • Christmas dinner for two for $19.99
  • Free slice of apple pie when ordering any item on the Christmas menu
  • Free delivery for orders over $15
  • Buy any Christmas cocktail, and you get another one for free
  • Visit us wearing an Ugly Christmas Sweater for a cinnamon roll on the house

Watch the video below to learn how to set up holiday promotions for restaurants and surprise your customers this December.

Consent needed

If you’re running out of holiday promotion ideas your customers might like, download our Food Holiday & Promotion Ideas Calendar for year-round goodness.

4. Stand out with Christmas & New Year restaurant promotions

Not many restaurants are open on Christmas or New Year, so if you are open, you can cater to people who don’t want to cook or spend the holidays at home.

Create a special Christmas menu at a fixed price for customers who want to spend the holidays with you. Include something small on the house, like a warm drink or a cozy dessert, to make them feel at home.

Read more: 20 Festive Christmas Restaurant Promotion Ideas for 2022

You can also encourage loyal customers to order from you around the holidays by offering them a coupon code they can redeem between Christmas and New Year’s.

Learn how to set up restaurant holiday gift card promotions featuring coupon codes by watching the video below.

Consent needed

Lastly, don’t forget to hype up your promotions and special offers on your website and social media so more people will see them and place an order.

If you have the sales-optimized website from GloriaFood, the offers active in your menu will automatically appear in the “Special Offers” section of your website like this:

restaurant holiday marketing: implement promotions and special offers

You can take a screenshot of the offer and post it on social media, too, with a link that people can click to access your menu. For Facebook, you can use our special sharing hotlink by going to admin -> Setup -> Publishing -> Facebook (Sharing).

market holiday promotions for restaurants on Facebook

To Sum It up

Don’t let the winter holidays catch you off guard. Prepare a restaurant holiday marketing strategy in advance and plan your menu, schedule, and staff. That way, your restaurant will run like a well-oiled machine and boost sales even at the very end of the year.

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 creates guides and resources designed to help restaurants grow their presence online and boost sales.

She has been featured on the Oracle Food and Beverage Blog and wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.

Find me on LinkedIn.