Tricks and Treats
Halloween and Bonfire Night present two opportunities to increase footfall and make a profit.
Spook it up!
Halloween is the third most celebrated holiday behind Christmas and Easter, according to research by him! So whether you are a cafe, pub or care home, make sure you have some ghostly goings-on.
When to celebrate
Halloween falls on a Monday this year, so you could hold an event on the actual day to help liven up a relatively quiet day, or stick with the Saturday before. That way, depending on your business, you can hold a kids’ party in the afternoon and have a fancy dress party in the evening for adults.
What to do
Get into the spirit by decorating your premises – whatever your size. Carved out pumpkins, hanging cobwebs and bloodstained walls all add to the entertainment of the event – especially if you are holding a party. Apple bobbing (add some food dye to make it bloodcurdling red), ghoulish games, face painting and fancy dress are a must for the kids – offer a prize for the best dressed too. 2FOR1 offers on spirits are a given for most pubs and nightclubs – especially if you are holding the event on the day itself, as it will help boost trade.
What to serve
If you are holding a party then finger, snacky food is a must. For the little horrors re-name your usual snacks: Morbid Margarita, Snot-tail Nachos, Freaky Fingers (sweet potato fries) and Bloodthirsty Squash. For the adults you could serve a Dracula’s Punch and Fright Night cocktails. If you are a café or deli then why not have some fun with your menu and rename your usuals? Or put that pumpkin to good use by making these tasty dishes created by Steve Smith, head chef at Bohemia in Jersey.
• Pumpkin Pie – Serve with a dollop of fresh cream
• Pumpkin Pancakes – Puree a cup of pumpkin and mix together with buttermilk and usual pancake ingredients
• Pumpkin Curry – Combine pumpkin with chickpeas and coconut. The longer it is sat, the better the flavours develop
• Pumpkin Risotto – Pumpkin pieces add texture and substance to the rice dish. Perfect for the chilly night
• Pumpkin Loaf – A healthy, alternative snack to a carb-heavy loaf cake. And for those with a sweet tooth, adding a thick layer of cream cheese icing will make it a devilish delight
As Bonfire Night falls on a Saturday this year, it presents the perfect family fuelled occasion.
What to do
If you have the room and the safety measures in place (read our feature on Bonfire Night Safety), a bonfire and firework display brings in the custom – and depending on what you are offering you could even charge. If you hold an event make sure you have outside cover in case the weather turns or enough room inside – the last thing you want is a bunch of wet-through, unhappy customers on your hands! A DJ or live band for the night is a great idea for an event – either to play post-bonfire or to have instead of one. See our feature on music licences.
What to serve
Hot dogs and burgers go hand in hand with Bonfire Night. Quick, easy and filling, they are perfect for families. If you want to set a BBQ up outside, check all your health and safety regulations are in place and make sure children are accompanied by an adult when they are being served food. Pulled pork in brioche buns or jacket potatoes cooked on the bonfire oozing with butter work well, or a big, warming bowl of chilli is easy to make (and serve) and you can charge a premium price by adding garlic bread, wedges and coleslaw. You can’t beat the traditional desserts: sticky toffee apples and parkin, but for something a bit different, chocolate brownies are easy to make, easy to eat and not too indulgent – perfect for care home residents – and a berry cheesecake is a wow dessert for adults who don’t fancy a sticky toffee apple. Warming drinks are the key tonight: hot chocolate with a dollop of cream and a few marshmallows are perfect for children and the non-drinkers. Mulled wine may be a typically festive drink but it’ll work well on this chilly night.
Spread the word
For both events make sure you promote whatever you are doing via social media, your website, in-house posters and word of mouth. Talk to your supplier about relevant POS material for any drinks or offers you are promoting – both events have the capacity to increase footfall and boost profit so make sure you do everything to advertise it. But, as a word of warning, if you are holding a Halloween party make sure the theme is not offensive! Last year, a pub in Bournemouth scrapped its ‘mental patient’ theme after customers deemed it ‘offensive’. The event offered free shots to ‘deranged doctors and nurses’. The pub’s company apologised and cancelled the event.