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Getting Ready for the Holidays — How Bars Can Prepare for the Season

Just like that, the holiday season is here. For bars, restaurants and retailers, it’s an especially busy time as consumer demand ticks up. It’s also equally crucial for hitting end-of-year sales goals and padding a business’s bottom line for the slower months of January and February. Whether it’s holiday events, special menus or product promotions, careful planning and preparation is crucial for enabling success. Let’s look at ways beverage businesses can prepare in advance for the busy holiday season. 

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Setting the Stage: a Festive Atmosphere Drives Business

Like many holidays, creating a festive atmosphere with holiday decorations is part of the fun. It’s not exclusive to homes! There’s nothing like visiting a bar decked out in garland and lights around the holidays. Creating a festive environment adds so much atmosphere and mood to a bar, restaurant or retail business. Not only does it attract revelers to visit your business, but it also keeps them in the spirit to stay put for another round. 

Bars nationwide pride themselves on converting their bars into holiday-themed ones. For instance, each year, the Chicago Athletic Hotel debuts Happy’s, its holiday-themed popup bar to Chicagoans, bringing warm vibes, seasonal tunes and as many twinkling lights as possible — as well as a menu of special holiday cocktails and bar bites.


New York’s, The Dead Rabbit, introduced the second year of Jingle Jangle, its holiday-themed popup. While the inaugural edition was limited to The Taproom, Jingle Jangle will take over all three floors of the celebrated Irish bar, serving warming, seasonal dishes alongside kitsch-themed cocktails, over-the-top decor and a magical Christmas soundtrack.


Offer Something More with Holiday Menus and Specials

Apart from creating a festive atmosphere, menus are also something to consider when planning for the holiday season. Many bars use this time to curate a special cocktail menu tailored to the season, utilizing ingredients and glassware that exude the holiday spirit.

Brooklyn’s Leyenda offers up special cocktails during their seasonal pop-up, Sleyenda, covering more than just the Christmas holiday. For the first day of Chanukah last year, the cocktail bar promoted a limited-edition cocktail Oy Vey Sbagliato, made with Campari, Manischewitz, passionfruit and sparkling wine.


However you choose to celebrate the season, creating a hyper-focused holiday menu will not only drive business to your bar but also give patrons something to share with their friends and family and promote on their own social channels, getting your business in front of a wider audience. 

The Ultimate Guide to Building a Better Cocktail Menu Discover how to engineer your cocktail menu for profitability, write the best cocktail descriptions and ensure there are options for every guest.

Planning Makes Perfect: Staffing and Training Tips for the Holidays

In order to ensure a successful and stress-free holiday season, planning makes perfect. What exactly should you include in your planning? Staffing and appropriate training are two areas to focus on. 

With the influx of customers, it’s important to ensure that adequate staff are available. Consider hiring seasonal employees or asking part-time employees about picking up more hours. Ask that staff communicate their holiday plans well in advance so that you can plan and schedule accordingly. The more prepared you are, the more nimble you can be should an unexpected absence occur.

It’s also important to train younger or less experienced employees on what to expect during the busy season. Run through exercises and workshops to up their knowledge on menus especially around wine as it’s a time when consumers are looking to spend more than usual on special occasion bottles. Cross-train your staff so that they’re able to step into a role should it be necessary. And if you offer to-go services, ensure your online ordering operations are streamlined and optimized for maximum efficiency. 

Fully Stocked and Ready to Go: Inventory Management is Key to a Successful Season

As vital as staffing and training is for the holiday season, so too is inventory management. Planning your beverage inventory is the key to success. That means finding inventory management solutions if you haven’t already. It also means looking back at the previous year’s numbers to anticipate what moves and what doesn’t. Stock up on high-volume products that you know will move quickly and have a plan in place should you run through any product quicker than expected. Our inventory management spreadsheet resource is a great solution that is intuitive and easy to use. 

This is also where proper training comes into play. Your bar staff should be well aware of how to handle par levels to minimize waste and control costs. After all, your business needs to pull out every cent it can to capitalize on the increased numbers. Take a second look at your beer, wine and spirit prices and make adjustments where necessary for maximum profitability. 

Get The Word Out: Marketing Tips for Promoting Holiday Happenings

It already takes so much to run a successful bar, restaurant or retail business, but it takes just a little bit more to stand out from the crowd. How is this done? Marketing is essential for a business to grow and become profitable. 

With all the effort you put into planning for a fun, eventful holiday season, without marketing, no one will show up to enjoy the fruit of your labor. Make sure you’ve built plenty of room in the budget to allow for marketing and promotion. Digital marketing through social media, your website or email is an easy way to spread the word about your holiday happenings. Whether it’s a holiday event, special cocktail menus, or the over-the-top decorations you put up, make sure you’re posting as often as possible to showcase your efforts. Use your website to update consumers who discover you online first and be sure to leverage your existing customers via email to update them on what’s happening in your establishment. Our bar, restaurant and retail marketing guide will help get you started on the right foot. 

There you have it! These are just a few high-level ways that bars, restaurants and retail stores can prepare for the holiday season. With that, cheers and happy holidays from Provi. 

Corey Hines

Career bartender turned Content Marketing Manager at Provi, covering all things beer, wine and spirits.


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