Xmas and New Year Ideas (page 4) 

The Xmas Draw

Depending on the pub I have also taken the opportunity to do the draw for the pub’s Xmas Draw on Christmas Morning, so now is an opportune moment to mention this important charity event.

Again, by using some of the free stock generated from Xmas orders I have been able to fund pretty well all of the Xmas draws I have run over the last 30 years. The trick with a Xmas draw is to include prizes that the customer has to return to redeem during January and February and make sure you have at least one star prize. Giving away vouchers for two for one deals on meals, one in four eats Sunday Lunch free, even a basic birthday party package to be redeemed the following year have been included in my draws.

Of course you will decide how much you want to give away and when, but one star prize that has always managed to generate interest and draw ticket sales has been the “Win A Pint A Day Free for the Year” (and a couple of others just for the month of January). For most customers this will mean a star prize worth over £1,000 – something well worth a £1 punt on a Xmas draw ticket. The trick to this one is to make sure that you have the following conditions apply – no cash alternative, no saving up the pints (if they’re sick or on holiday and don’t redeem their free pint, tough!), non-transferable (I have had customers try to sell their voucher on).

Top Tip – don’t go for raffle ticket books, the best way is to create a grid on a large piece of card and let customers pick squares, write their name in the square; when the time comes for the draw just cut the grid into squares and pop them in a drawing bucket. When one grid is full, put up the next one. Especially useful in multi-bar venues, a draw grid is highly visible (behind the bar), costs very little to make and no hunting around for raffle ticket books.

Christmas Cards

Another good way of ensuring your pub is not like the Marie Celeste during the doldrums months of January and February is to give your customers Xmas Cards with “bounce back” vouchers on the rear cover. Not only do you get to give customers a card back for the inevitable ones you will receive but you also get to build some brand loyalty into your pub. The vouchers on the back of the card can for as little or as much as you feel is appropriate for your business. I’ve given things like 25% off main meals, one in four eat free for Sunday lunch, a free bottle of wine with four main meals to name but a few.

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Out With The Old & In With The New

For many pubs New Years Eve is the busiest and most profitable single trading day of the year, with customers in and out of the pub all day long and staying out until very late. For most pubs a New Year’s Eve party with all the traditional touches such as the bongs from Big Ben and lots of bubbly will be the order of the day. Whatever you decide to do for your New Year’s Eve party there are things that I have always done to ensure you get the most out of the evening.


Just as we shut the pub on Hallowe’en for putting up the ghoulish decorations, so we did on New Year’s Eve. If you have the luxury of a main trading area (for instance a smaller ancillary bar with pool room) clear the main trading area late afternoon. This allows time to clean the main part of the pub (which can often be quite busy during the day of New Year’s Eve), restock the bar, bring up extra glasses, stock and ice, put bubbly in fridges to chill, put up a few balloons etc and generally prepare for the night ahead.

By keeping a small area open you’ll be able to continue to trade and have the added advantage of being able to clear the main trading area so that when door staff arrive for the official start of the party you can start with a “clean slate”. No all-day revellers or “sleepers” will be present at the start of the night which is always a bonus, plus you can carefully control the numbers in the pub as the evening progresses and reach your capacity as dictated by the Premises Licence.

If you don’t have a separate area, shutting for a short period before the night is useful, even if it’s just to give you and your team a short break on what is traditionally a bit of a marathon.

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