You’re very likely noticing a lot more faces coming through your doors now that we’re in December. Hanukah has begun, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on almost here, and New Year’s Eve is very much on the horizon. If you want to keep all those faces smiling and spending money at your bar rather than that of your competitors’, you have to grab their attention and show them your appreciation.
Here are 5 December holiday party promotions you need to try.
Ugly Sweater Parties
This is a time-honored tradition. Guests don the ugliest winter, Christmas or Hanukkah sweaters they can find and then come to your bar to celebrate their hideous, holiday-themed apparel. There are plenty of things you can do with this promotion, such as a contest for the best ugly (ugliest?) sweater. You can either offer individual prizes or, to attract more guests, offer team prizes. Drink specials, of course, work well with ugly sweater parties. Not only does this sort of promotion attract large amounts of guests to your bar, it provides fantastic photo ops for your social media (which you’ll only use with permission, of course.
Many cities participate in Santa Claus-themed gatherings, such as Santa runs, dashes, hustles, half-marathons, full marathons, shuffles, and other races. Often times, these events are either centered around or culminate with pub crawls. You have ample time to partner with your local Santa Run, Dash, etc. and become one of the participating bars should they be participating in a crawl. If there is no crawl planned, you can either reach out to bars with which you’re friendly or offer to host the group for a party.
Hundreds of thousands of college students who are of legal drinking age are home for the holidays. You can – and certainly should – capitalize on this. Consider waiving cover charges with a valid college student ID. You can also offer drink specials in conjunction with valid college student IDs to attract more guests. If you’re a sports bar with loyalty to a particular college sports team (or teams), you can offer entry and drink specials to students who attend that team’s college or university and prove it by flashing their identification.
If you’ve ever worked in an office, you know all about white elephant gift exchanges. Well, there’s no reason you can’t adapt this office event to work for your bar. When promoting this event, instruct guests to come to your bar with a wrapped gift (encourage humorous or re-gifted items). If you like, set a price limit for guests. For your part, throw in one or two special gifts. When those guests who are participating in the gift exchange have arrived, offer them a drink special and then start the game.
The rules are rather simple. The first player selects and unwraps a gift. The second player can either select and unwrap a gift or steal the first player’s gift. This continues, with the newest player opting to steal a previous player’s gift or open a new one. When someone’s gift has been stolen, that player gets to select another or steal from someone else. The game is over when the last person takes their turn and the first person goes one more time. There are variations of these rules that you can find online.
It’s fun to receive but often feels better to give, particularly during the holidays. Operators are in the unique position to offer their guests the opportunity to experience both giving and receiving. Food and clothing drives are a great way to show your community that you and your guests care, providing an effective way for all involved to be philanthropic. After reaching out to your local food bank to find out what items they accept, usually canned soup, canned vegetables, canned fruits, fresh produce, frozen foods, dairy within the expiration date and juices with the expiration date. They also often accept clothing and personal care items, so inquire about those items as well. Feeding America is an excellent resource for planning these types of events. Then encourage your guests to participate in your venue’s drive, offering drink and food specials for participants.
The most important thing to keep in mind when planning and executing December holiday promotions is to be creative and make your events fun, interesting and exciting. Also, make sure to have a photo booth on hand – these types of events are perfect for capturing images for use on social channels.