Get your restaurant ready for Christmas 2022 — 14 jolly ideas  

Restaurant Christmas table with a red tablecloth, and a plate with decorated with a spruce twig.
Restaurant Christmas table with a red tablecloth, and a plate with decorated with a spruce twig.
Photo: Johannes Pleino

Deck the halls with…well not quite yet, but even though we still haven’t carved our pumpkin lanterns, it’s time to think about Christmas events and promotions for your restaurant. Read our list and start planning today!

Whether your restaurant is a go-to place for large company Christmas parties, or you just want to plan something extra cosy for your guests in December, there are plenty of ways of creating events and promotions that match your concept, budget and size. Let’s look at some! 

Is your restaurant open on Christmas Eve? 

According to the keyword research tool Ahrefs, the average number of global monthly searches for “restaurants open on Christmas eve” is 13.000. This number shows us that a lot of guests would love to spend their Christmas eve enjoying delicious food and good service at your restaurant. 

Many restaurants already offer everything from traditional Christmas dinners to more alternative menus for adventurous guests who don’t mind surprising their tastebuds with new flavours on Christmas eve.  

Before you decide to stay open on Christmas eve, the best thing is to check how many of your staff members are able to work that day. December is a busy month for most restaurants, and that makes it crucial to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible about their schedule. Ask them already before Halloween, to make sure you’re all on the same page.

A lot of things can be made easier with good planning, which is why starting early is so important:  

December event ideas  

Hosting restaurant events is a good idea all year long. Events give your guests experiences combined with great food and help you attract even more guests. And if any month calls for festive and cosy events it’s dark and cold December! 

Ugly Christmas sweater day 

This day is celebrated internationally on the third Friday in December, but you don’t have to worry too much about that — your guests will find it fun on any date!

Arrange a contest with a prize for the ugliest, cutest or funniest Christmas sweater. People love getting a chance to win something. Your prize could be anything from a free Christmas draft beer to a gift card for your restaurant.  

And yes, your team will also have to show up wearing sweaters with glowing reindeer, dancing snowmen, T-rex Santas or something else that makes everyone cringe in that jolly kind of way. 

A man and a woman dressed in Christmas sweaters. They are a holding wine glasses.
Photo: Polina Kovaleva

The foodie Christmas market 

Jams, pickled vegetables, homemade glögg, gingerbread cookies, marzipan piglets and homemade candy. Put on the Christmas playlist in the kitchen and start creating irresistible treats for a real foodie Christmas market.  

On the day of the event, you can serve a light menu or buffet where guests can taste some of your treats before buying. If you make some less Christmassy treats, you can market these as the perfect Christmas gifts.  

Live Christmas music and Christmas lights will take this event to the next level!  

Christmas beer tasting 

A Christmas beer tasting with beers from local breweries will attract everyone from sourdough-parent hipsters to grandmothers, and university students to your restaurant. 

And why not invite a passionate brewer to give a short lecture on the process of brewing great Christmas beer? Line up IPAs, sour beers, stouts, wheat beer and porter and create snack plates with savoury, fresh and sweet Christmas snacks that match the beers. A perfect event to combine with an ugly Christmas sweater competition! 

Helping-Santa charity event

Contact local charity organisations and ask if any of them need a helping hand collecting Christmas gifts for children in need. Encourage guests and staff to bring used and new toys they want to donate. Serve cookies and hot glögg to anyone who shows up.

Christmas afternoon tea  

Is there anything better than indulging in the joys of a classic afternoon tea with delicious bite-sized treats?

Invite your guests to Christmas afternoon tea with miniature versions of classic Christmas cakes, tea with cinnamon and saffron, small scones with cream cheese and homemade jam, and perhaps even a glass of bubbles with a splash of ruby red cranberry juice!  

Christms cupcakes decorated with frosting and pomegranate
Photo: Edgar Castrejon

Get-through-those-strange-days-after-Christmas event  

Most people can agree that the days between Christmas and New Year’s feel a bit strange. As if time stops and nobody quite knows what they’re supposed to be doing. This is where your restaurant comes into the picture! Host a cosy after-Christmas event with a set menu and a quiz or wine tasting.  

After December’s many plates of Christmas food, your guests will welcome the chance to let their tastebuds experience something entirely different. And why not include a gift-swapping that lets guests swap unwanted Christmas gifts with each other? True, they can do that in the store, but in this way, they might get something they never knew they needed.  

On the Xmas menu 

If you want to offer a special Christmas menu there are many ways to go about it. Here are some ideas:  

Classic Christmas food but make it your style 

Your interpretation of the classic dishes: go through the list of the most classic and traditional Christmas foods in your country and create a menu with your own unique interpretations of them. Play with the same spices and ingredients but serve them in creative new ways. 

Christmas brunch 

Offer a Christmas brunch with traditional and non-traditional brunch foods with a large splash of Christmas! Cinnamon waffles with tangerine jam, greek yoghurt with hazelnut, gingerbread and pomegranate topping, potato omelette with smoked salmon, and small kale pies with Comté cheese and cranberry pickled red onions — or any other ideas you can conjure to give the classic brunch dishes a Christmas twist.

Plant-based Christmas food  

For various reasons, more and more people are adhering to a diet with less meat, also during Christmas. If you offer a delicious plant-focused Christmas menu these guests will love to visit your restaurant in December.

Make a big deal of classic December dishes  

Go all in with the classic Christmas dishes. Make them to perfection with quality ingredients and compete with your guests’ grandma when it comes to making the world’s most delicious Christmas food.   

Christmas elves on the cocktail menu 

Impress your guests with beautiful Christmas cocktails with ingredients in red, gold, green and silver. This doesn’t have to mean artificial colours and cocktail cherries.  Natural ingredients such as cranberries, pomegranate, orange, cinnamon, rosemary, cardamom and saffron will do the trick. Name your cocktails something Christmassy! 

Red Christmas cocktails with rosemary twigs
Photo: Charlotte May

Company Christmas party events 

Will you offer Christmas packages for larger groups and company Christmas parties? 

Many companies start planning their Christmas party already before the flamingos from the summer party have been deflated. Start your marketing campaigns early to make sure companies find your restaurant when they’re looking for the perfect spot for their Christmas party.  

Do you have private rooms in your restaurant? If these are available for Christmas parties, make sure to mention this in your promotions as many companies prefer a little more privacy for their parties.  

Use your social media channels and website to share information about all the benefits of having a company Christmas party at your restaurant. 

Light the Christmas lights on your social media channels!  

When you’ve decided on your Christmas events, menus and promotions, make sure your guests don’t miss out on all the good stuff you’ve lined up for them.  

Be out in good time so your guests can include your restaurant in their December plans.  

Share appetising posts and stories on your restaurant’s social media channels, such as your Christmas menu, teasers for your events and behind-the-scenes content.  

Christmas events and dinners sell like hot gingerbread cookies, so remind your guests to book as early as possible. That will also make it easier for you to plan your schedules and purchases.  

And… suddenly it’s December — don’t forget to take plenty of pictures of your Christmas events when they happen. You’ll need them for next year’s marketing!