The Christmas Day Experience
I have run a couple of pubs that provide the full Christmas Day package, but mostly the pubs I have run didn’t. The key to getting the full package correct is to limit numbers so you can lavish extra care and attention to your guests and concentrate on producing high quality food. In my opinion sticking to the traditional Christmas fayre is the best option, too many times I have heard horror stories of Christmas lunch “with a twist” and disappointed customers. What you should be offering is all the trimmings of Christmas without any of the hard work for your customers and you should be prepared to replicate (as much as possible) the domestic experience.
A word of caution on offering the ‘full monty’ is that if you get it right it can cement your reputation in your marketplace; get it wrong and it can kill your business reputation stone-dead. You must carefully consider whether you can provide memorable experience for your customers … but only a positive memory. This offering may be something that new-comers to the trade might not adopt at first, but build towards over time.
A Christmas Day program I have run in the past ran like this:
11.30 am – reception with Bucks Fizz or Sherry, seasonal canapes
12.30 pm – Lunch with all the trimmings
3.00 pm – Traditional Party Games such as charades
4.00 pm – Full Afternoon Tea
5.00 pm – Farewells
Of course this kind of program requires a lot of effort and staffing, which, is reflected in the price one can charge, however, in these days of austerity and diminished personal incomes many pubs are not even offering a catering service on Christmas Day. Here’s some Top Tips on Turkeys for the big day.
By the far the majority of pubs I have run did not provide the full Christmas Day package, however, it didn’t mean that the day was any less special. Grandmother (a wise old bird) always said that the decision to buy a pub was based on 99% pure business reasoning and 1% emotion – more particularly she always said “If you can’t picture yourself behind the bar on Christmas Day morning with all your regulars – don’t buy the place!”
Whether you are doing food or not you should always try to put on a little something extra on Christmas morning for those that aren’t dining at the pub. I generally provide everyone who comes in a free whisky or a glass of Bucks Fizz. (If you’ve done your Christmas ordering/purchasing in such a way to take advantage of all those lovely supplier deals then you should have built up a reasonable amount for free stock to off-set this). Oh, and don’t differentiate between regulars and occasional drinkers or those who you’ve never seen before. Many’s the time when pubs I have run have picked up new sets of year-round customers from just this one promotional activity – strangers just can’t believe the generosity and welcome they receive.
Make sure you put out some chocolates and warm mince pies on the bar as well as they also go down a treat.
Christmas Day for publicans is probably the nicest day of the trading year and you should take the opportunity to enjoy yourself. I have always opened non-food pubs at 12 noon and kicked them all out by 3pm – this is usually more than enough time to generate a healthy bit of trade.