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The 12 Tips of Christmas Dining

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On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me… a wonderful list of 12 top tips to make any Christmas dining experience flow as well as hot goose fat over golden roast potatoes. So here it is, an early present from us at Trent Furniture.

Menu

The menu should get customers salivating at the thought of what superb food is to come. Be really descriptive and let customers know where their food is coming from, think Marks & Spencer’s luxurious adverts when thinking about wording. Buffet menus can be really cost effective and a crowd pleaser, don’t forget to include à la carte options to cater for different tastes.

Also be sure to cater for a wealth of different dietary requirements, such as vegans and those who require gluten free options. It could be vital in enticing customers and large groups to your establishment.

Pricing

Christmas dinners are notoriously expensive so customers won’t be put off by high prices. Remember that staff will want a higher rate of pay for working Christmas day and putting on a spectacular meal and entertainment will cost a fair bit. Though it’s vital to not overcharge and ensure customers feel they are getting true value for money, getting customers to return year on year is the main goal.

Furniture

Customers paying up to £100 a head will expect the best from their experience. Any dated or tatty furniture will stick out like a sore thumb and it can detract from all your hard work. Get customers talking about the lovely and comfortable chairs (such as the Abrruzzo range), Christmas is a great time to invest in some new fixtures and fittings that will lift the decor.

Decorations

Expectations are high for Christmas and customers will want to feel a special and festive atmosphere when they go out for food. Decorations that go above and beyond will really capture people’s imaginations. Splash out on special Christmas decorations that will give the venue a traditional seasonal feel. Remember to keep décor looking warm; dimmed lighting and fairy lights will give a cosy festive effect that will excite customers as soon as they walk in.

Bookings

Check, double-check and triple-check. This is one day of the year that double bookings for tables cannot happen. Make sure that the tables are all accounted for and remember that over booking tables can stretch staff if numbers are going to be short on the day.

Remember to tell customers that they can book for next year with a small deposit. If they had a great time they will want to book it straight away so they don’t miss out, it’ll also be a great indication of how much the event was enjoyed. Give customers at this year’s dinner an offer for next year, keep them loyal and you’ll have plenty of bookings for 2017 before the year has already begun. Get an online booking system, it will help organise and automate the booking process and it is much easier for customers to use.

Staff

Reward staff for coming to work on Christmas day; double pay or even treble pay can help motivate staff and help prevent anyone from not turning up. Organise the rota for the Christmas period early and let staff know as soon as the rota is done, giving them plenty of notice.

Keep the team as relaxed as possible over the festive period, too much pressure can be a recipe for disaster. Split shifts lasting around four hours can help take the edge off working on Christmas day

Advertise

Do customers know that business is open as usual on Christmas day? Advertise that Christmas lunch is available as soon as possible and get booking forms and menus ready. More people are going to restaurants and hotels than ever for Christmas dinner, so announce an attractive and comprehensive menu for a reasonable price to entice them to choose your business.

Send Christmas cards out to local businesses and as many customers as possible reminding them that the venue is open for Christmas and a personal touch always helps to make customers feel more valued. Produce a promotional video for the Christmas menu, get it posted on social media and link it to online booking. Spend the year compiling a healthy contact book and try some email marketing with discounted offers.

Food

Make sure there are plenty of trimmings for dinner, last thing customers want is not enough pigs in blankets or roast potatoes. Source local ingredients and focus on food quality rather than trying to cut corners with cheaper options. This may be the most important point of all; food quality can trump above all others in convincing customers to return.

Drinks

If drinks aren’t a speciality, do some research and find complementary wines, beers and spirits that go with the menu. Customers spending upwards of £100 on food won’t mind splashing out a little extra on drinks, especially if it’s an extensive collection of seasonal favourites.

Real ales and craft beer has never been so popular so include some recommendations to go with each course and keep everyone happy, as well as bringing in some additional income.

Planning

As every veteran of Christmas day dinner will know, planning is paramount to success. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail. Get as much preparation done as early as possible, make sure all supplies are fully stocked up weeks in advance.

Communication

At some point during the planning stage have a meeting involving the whole team. If last year’s Christmas was chaotic or hard to handle, ask everyone what any problems were and what could be improved on. Sometimes simple changes can make a massive difference and the staff could be holding information that can save time and money.

Preparation

Christmas day is going to be hectic no matter how much preparation can be done, but there are things that can be done to make it a little bit easier. If dinner was getting out late last year, get staff to come in earlier.

Any food that can be prepared the day before or in advance, should be. Don’t be tempted to freeze prepared food weeks in advance as customers are expecting the best food that is on offer. Find the right balance that takes some of the burden whilst giving the freshest meal that will keep diners happy and full.

Catering tips for Christmas – 5 festive tips for hosting the perfect corporate party

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‘Tis the season to be jolly, it’s everyone’s favourite time of the year (apart from the scrooges). It’s also the busiest time of the year for venues, thanks to the traditional work Christmas party. For the employees at a Christmas party, they have worked hard all year and a corporate party is a great way for staff to blow off some steam and go into the New Year with a boost of morale. For the venue it’s a great opportunity to show how great their setting is and experiment with different Christmas décor and ideas. We have put together our top five tips to turn you into the host with the most.

Five – Creating a safe environment for event attendees

We all know what office Christmas parties can be like! It’s a well-deserved chance for employees to let their hair down and enjoy themselves as their boss treats them for all their hard work. Most corporate parties go as planned; everyone enjoys themselves and has a drink or two. However, sometimes things can get a little out of hand, someone enjoys themselves a little too much or all that office tension can build up to breaking point.

Make sure the team knows how to handle certain situations in a calm manner. Well trained staff can diffuse a situation and usually a cool head can relax a heated situation. A host can use their experience to work with management to recognise anyone who needs an extra pair of eyes on them, to keep a positive atmosphere at the party. It’s vital not to babysit guests though, it is a party after all and you want to keep a fun atmosphere.

Four – Making functions and staff parties memorable

Remember that for many guests at the event the office party is the biggest occasion of the year and something they look forward to. Making the night something that they’ll never forget can keep the office talking for months.

When they have a great time, they’ll want to come back year after year and word will spread. Don’t be afraid to splash out on some things that will get customers and their employees talking. Try to offer something that no other venue can and make the location unique.

Don’t resort to having mixed furniture that looks like it was the last thing that was thought about; make sure you have plenty of matching tables and chairs for the evening. Folding tables and stackable chairs can be a lifesaver, finish with a lavish cover to give a luxury feel to the event.

Three – Getting the party décor right

A festive spirit and corporate parties can provide that little extra budget to dress up a venue to make it look more joyful and appealing. It may be tempting to raid the local pound shop for tinsel and party poppers, however stay well away from tacky decorations.

If some of the furniture and interior design is looking like its best days are behind it, now is a great opportunity to invest in some contemporary furniture. Create a look fit for any hipster Shoreditch café for less with the new Bella range of tables, stools and chairs in a variety of colours and combinations.

Take plenty of time when choosing furniture, discuss a plan with the sales team and make sure it fits in with the venue. If a complete overhaul is stretching too far, lighting can make a massive difference for a surprisingly low cost. Combining fairy lights with large plants or features, like beams, can create a festive party mood in no time.

Two – Keeping staff motivated during peak party seasons

Without doubt this will be the busiest period for any venue and it’s necessary to take on extra staff to help cope with the amount of parties and events. A team of staff represent the establishment better than anything else and extra staff who don’t understand the key values can hurt a good reputation.

Patience is a wonderful skill to have in the hospitality industry; nerves will be tested among any team so it’s vital to keep heads cool whilst giving the best customer service possible.

It’s difficult to judge just how busy the place will be over the next month and all the members of staff will need to pull their weight. Remember to make sure the rota always has enough staff so they’re not overwhelmed.

One – Creating the perfect corporate menu

Food and drink are the fastest ways to capture anyone’s heart. Budget well for food and drink, find some places to save on and then go that extra mile in other areas to make it a memorable event for the guests.

Prepare a separate menu with a small selection of varied dishes, so there is something for everyone but chefs can focus on producing high quality food. It’s vital to cater for vegetarian and gluten free diners, to ensure all guests leave happy and with full stomachs.

Depending on the employer’s budget for drinks, make sure that there is real value for money and try to work with the employer/party organiser to provide drinks at a reasonable rate.

Providing lots of soft drinks and non-alcoholic options will please any designated drivers and non-drinkers, while also offering an option to help ‘sober-up’ anyone with too much festive cheer.

One idea could be to provide a small amount of food near to midnight or the end of the evening for a surprise treat before the guests leave the venue. A little extra food will help soak up some of the drink and their boss will be grateful if they’re due in to work the next morning.

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