Schwartz September 2019

Alternative Christmas Parties

With increasing competition and customers having less disposable income, the need to come up with the perfect party is paramount. Make sure your Christmas isn’t a turkey but a real Christmas cracker.

So it starts – the bumper festive period where corporate bookings, family meals out and parties offer restaurants, hotels and pubs a real chance to cash in on the sector’s busiest time. In addition, it is the ideal time to pave the way for a successful 2013. Christmas provides the opportunity for you to generate excitement, positivity and interest in your business. Impress customers at Christmas and they’ll return in the New Year.

You’ll need to focus on more than your food over the festive period. When choosing where to go, customers want added value. The start and end of December are prime party times. The beginning is dominated by corporate office parties and the end of December sees New Year revellers wanting the ultimate party. In between you should be thinking family meals and catering for Christmas shoppers. According to customer experience improvement agency Retail Eyes, nearly half of adults they surveyed planned to attend a work Christmas party at a pub, bar or restaurant that they had not visited before.

Simon Boydell, marketing manager for Retail Eyes outlines the potential opportunity this provides, he explains: “Our survey results show that there is a fantastic opportunity for publicans, landlords and venue managers to make a real impression on party goers. If they play their cards right, they will sell the benefits of their venue to an eager audience and encourage repeat visits. Christmas is an ideal opportunity to impress potential customers as they enjoy the party season.”

Take Stock looks at what you should consider when catering for parties this festive season


It isn’t enough to provide a disco nowadays. People expect a party in the true sense of the word. You need to think outside of the box and create a truly unique experience. One hotel that has done just this is Rendezvous in Skipton, North Yorkshire. Guests are set for a nautical experience as the establishment is transformed into a ship, complete with captain, crew, cruise-style cabaret and gangway for their cruise themed parties.

The idea is the brainchild of owner Karen Weaving, who wants to offer a fun and memorable experience to guests visiting the 80 room, canal-side hotel over Christmas and the New Year. The nautical theme will also extend to resident guests with ‘Cruise and Stay’ packages which include a choice of ‘staterooms’ with cruise-themed touches, including some with a water-side view. Says Karen: “This Christmas and New Year we want to offer guests something different to the usual festive packages, offered by many hotels. Rendezvous is the largest hotel in Skipton and we felt our canal-side restaurant, ballroom and spacious reception areas were perfect for embracing the cruise theme”.


Make your food suit the type of party you are throwing and don’t just be limited to sit down set menus. Buffets, canapés and hog roasts are acceptable and offer a fun and novel approach to Christmas party food. Look at what your competition is offering and try to be different. Most of all, try and give what your customers want.


This is the one time of the year where customers are not particularly price sensitive, giving you the opportunity to increase your margins. Premium products are particularly popular with many opting for spirits. After dinner drinks should be considered such as Baileys, brandy and a range of coffee liqueurs. Consider creating your own Christmas cocktails or mulled wine to really generate additional revenue. Check out our raving and behaving feature on page 48 for a couple of Christmas cocktails.

Customer service

It’s vital that you deliver fantastic customer service throughout the busy festive period. If people experience bad service they won’t return. It is the time when most pressure will be put on your staff so make sure they respond accordingly. Retail Eyes gives its top 5 tips for great customer service over the festive period:

1 Mind your manners
2 Remember that first impressions count
3 Stay calm at all times
4 Gain feedback if you can
5 Don’t forget to train temporary staff.


Make a point of difference and incorporate some theatre in to your party. This could be fireworks, a magician or a well known band or comedian. Offering a range of party games can be fun as can having themes such as a murder mystery. PapaKata offer bespoke teepees and party events. This year the company is offering Christmas parties with a Moroccan theme. With Moroccan food, live music and atmospheric venue complete with blazing log fires, twinkly lantern lit canvas and separate chill out rooms, this spectacular party really is the party to end all parties. It is an ideal example of how outside space can be used if you hire marquees or other suitable structures.


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