Blink and it’ll soon be December! With Thanksgiving off the table, the holidays are coming quickly around the corner and now’s the time to get your staff scheduling in place, promote holiday parties/menus, and introduce the hottest winter food trends. Here are ways you can give the gift of a peaceful and productive holiday period to yourself and your staff this season.

Securing seasonal staff

Reliable employees are key to a successful season but a shortage of qualified and committed restaurant workers is causing a staff shortage across the industry. BC restaurants are trying to address this issue by appealing more to millennials by introducing more flexible working weeks to create a good work-life balance. Careful scheduling and staff appreciation events can help to keep your employees happy over the holidays.

Staff scheduling

Set expectations early on so staff knows when they’ll be required to work over the holidays. Onboard extra help in time to train them up for the busy periods and make sure that you have enough people in place in case of sickness or vacations. Have a point person for vacation requests and set a ‘cut off’ date for anyone to ask for the holidays off. Scheduling apps can help take some of the stress out of planning for the holiday period, as can looking at sales data from previous years to estimate when more staff might be needed.

Give back to the community

‘Tis the season for giving back to the community, especially if you’re a neighbourhood restaurant with lots of loyal local customers. Organize a volunteer event to bring staff together for a common goal of giving back, through food drives or helping at a community food bank.

Throw a party

Give back to your own community of staff too by organizing a holiday party to keep spirits up during a busy time of year. Choose a cost-effective time to throw the party — this could mean having it earlier in November or pushing it to January. Involve your staff in the process by delegating the organization and asking everyone to pitch in. Ask your bar staff to create a signature cocktail or help get sponsored beverages for the night. But make sure they don’t feel like they are working the event. If you’re a small company on a small budget then there are still creative ways to celebrate – organize a yoga class as an antidote to holiday excess, host a holiday trivia night or have an ugly Christmas sweater party.

Boost your business this winter

Now you have your staff in place for the season, here’s how to make the most of the holiday season and boost sales in your business.

Start seasonal promotions

After Thanksgiving, thoughts are turning to Christmas and New Year parties and it’s an ideal time to start to promote potential buyouts and holiday menus. Market smaller dining rooms for private parties, or create creative cocktails that might appeal to corporate or friend/family groups. Use social media to share the word about seasonal specials and Christmas parties; make sure you have professional-level photos that make the food look appetizing and include all of the relevant booking information online.

Give the gift of sharing

Gift cards are another thing that can be utilized as a marketing tool during the holidays — promote them in your newsletter as a convenient gift solution and consider them as an extension of word-of-mouth marketing that can help to introduce new customers to your business.

Get ahead with food trends

Create a twist on traditional holiday menu items to follow new food trends for 2019. A Dutch design agency has predicted that ‘meaty’ vegan dishes using protein-replacements such as mushrooms, are going to be a trend this year. Healthy food swaps, such as cauliflower-based pizza, are also going to be popular so make an early start on the ‘new year, new year’ concept and offer healthy vegan versions of Christmas classics.


Get holiday ready with these tips for making the most of the busy quarter.

holiday gift cardsSeasonal specials and social media promotion can help increase restaurant sales this holiday season:

Get ahead of the curve with these five food trends for 2019:

From giving back to gift card sales, here are seven ways to promote your restaurant for the holidays:

Top tips for holiday scheduling:

Author Trish Hudson

Trish is the owner and principal at Holistic Hospitality Solutions. She aims to help assess her clients operations from top to bottom in order to gain efficiencies, save money, and increase their bottom line.

More posts by Trish Hudson