It’s the biggest night of the year, so make sure your New Year’s Eve event is an occasion to remember! Whether you are having an informal gathering or a ticketed event, planning the occasion correctly to suit your customer’s needs is crucial.
“It is very important to give your customers a great experience on New Year’s Eve, because that way they will continue to book with you for the rest of the year,” said Steve Wilmot, chef-proprietor of Korova Restaurant, London. “But mess it up, and you’ll never see them again!”
What to eat?
If your establishment is not having a formal, sit-down meal then create a food offering that is as easy, and stress-free as possible. Bar bites, nibbles, sharing platters or easy-to-eat finger food such as hot dogs, burgers and pizza are perfect – or even consider a good old fashioned buffet! Add premium to food by offering sweet potato fries rather than the standard chip, or spice up your wedges with seasoning and a dip.
Stocking up on Prosecco is a given, however, make sure you have a selection of sparkling wines and even bottles of Champagne chilled and handy too. Remember, it’s a long night, so make sure you have enough for the new year toast! Cocktails will be in full swing so make sure your bartenders are prepped and ready. Pitchers are a great idea. Not only do they reduce queues, pitchers will be bought in quantity for ease and value. Visit takestockmagazine.com for tips and recipe ideas to make sure the till is ringing and customers are happy. Don’t forget to stock up on bottle beers and lager, and apply the same theory to beer buckets as pitchers! A good selection of brandy is essential and a selection of whisky too. Visit takestockmagazine.com for ideas.
Not everyone will be drinking on New Year’s Eve so make sure the non-drinkers are catered for and you have stocked up on a varied choice of premium soft drinks and hot beverages. Remember, if customers are driving then they will be driving drinkers home so you want them all to stay (and spend) until the bar is closed. Steve Wilmot from Korova Restaurant is serving a hibiscus spritz – a hibiscus flower and syrup with soda water served in a Champagne flute.
Publish your event (whatever shape or size) via your social media channels, in-house POS material and word of mouth. Is all your event information clear from starting and closing times, to food and additional costs? The sooner you advertise the night, the sooner you can get organised once you know the size of event you are dealing with. In the chaos of Christmas, designate a member of staff to manage the new year numbers and orders – the last thing you want is to not have stocked up for the big night. If you need temporary staff for the night, book them in now! Good staff will be snapped up if you don’t act soon.
“Our thing is picking something that is relevant to the local area and what the local community want, rather than us dictating what we think they want,” said Sarah Brookfield-Almond, marketing manager for Individual Inns Ltd. The Spread Eagle at Sawley, Lancashire had an all-request New Year’s Eve last year. As part of their set price dinner – which included a glass of bubbly – they put slips of paper on every table and guests requested their favourite tunes from the DJ all night long. “The idea of letting customers choose their own music guaranteed a really successful evening, as the dance floor was constantly full and that created a real party atmosphere – so we are planning the same for this year,” added Sarah. They also had a photo booth with fun accessories so guests could take pictures and take them home as memorabilia for the evening. The Wheatsheaf in Brigsteer had an open mic night. The historic, village pub spread the word among its locals to bring in an instrument to play, sing a song, or even read a poem, during the evening celebrations.
Keep them entertained
Whether you are throwing a 1980s party or a karaoke night, if you are playing music of some sort then you need to check whether you need to apply for a music licence. Visit takestockmagazine.com/let-music-play/ to find out more information. Board games and activities will keep the party spirit going. If you are having a firework display, again visit takestockmagazine.com/bonfire-night-safety/ for all the safety information.
A thank you
“New Year’s Eve can be a tricky night for restaurants, as everyone who books is going to have pretty much the same schedule, so you will need a menu that is opulent, but not too difficult to get out there,” said Steve Wilmot, chef-proprietor of Korova Restaurant. “New Year’s Eve is just another night so we don’t charge any entrance fee or bump up our prices. For us, it’s a chance to look after the people that have decided to spend this important night (and their money) in your venue.”
If you choose not to serve food then having snacks available to buy is a must – so stock up now! Nuts, crisps, pork scratchings and even mixed olives are all essential snacks to have readily available. Make sure to buy a variety too, as people love something different. Chilli peanuts to hot and spicy flavoured crisps are all great choices for the celebration.
Care to party
For care home celebrations, timing is key to making sure everyone enjoys the fun. “Helping care home residents celebrate New Year’s Eve can be quite tricky, as most will be in bed by midnight, so a tea party in the day is a good idea,” said Sue Dunk editor of Care Home Catering. “Colourful streamers, party hats and sparkly table decorations will help to make the place feel special – residents could get involved and help make some glittery DIY decorations to transform the dining areas and lounges.” She suggests a finger food buffet as an ideal meal as it lets residents eat at their own pace. “Mix up the traditional favourites – such as sausage rolls, sandwiches, vol-au-vents, cheese and pineapple sticks, cheese straws, pork pies, mini scotch eggs, chicken drumsticks, etc – with seasonal specialities from other countries,” added Sue. For a tipple, she recommends fruit punch or sparkling grape juice. “This will keep residents hydrated throughout the busy occasion. A glass of bubbly during the day (medication permitting) is OK – but probably not at midnight!”