Are you prepared for more customers to walk through your doors than at any other time of the year? Your diners come to celebrate the season and the Christmas break with colleagues, friends and family. They book Christmas parties, or they arrange your services for outside catering. Your best strategy is to prepare your chefs and your establishment for all the excitement of the season. 

It’s never too early to start thinking about supplies. You could be doing triple the trade over Christmas and your suppliers may not be running regular hours, so it’s important to get your orders in and stock up. It’s also important to make sure that perishable ingredients aren’t overordered, because they’re easily wasted which can lead to losses. This planning stage is crucial for the smooth running of your enterprise over the festive season.

Check the dates that suppliers will accept last orders, their holiday closures and when they gear up again in the New Year. Even if you close your restaurant over Christmas, the week you reopen is just as important as the week before you close. You want to be ready to start the New Year strong.

You can also look here to restock your pantry, all year round. 

Your existing customers will have chosen to have their Christmas party or catch up with friends at your restaurant for a reason – because they love your dishes! Christmas is definitely a time to keep doing what you’re already doing so well. But, at the same time, it’s good to create a sense of occasion by introducing some new dishes to cater for diners’ expanding tastes. Why not try offering Executive Chef Mark Baylis’ best-in-class pork crackling recipe? Adding new recipes to old favourites creates fresh excitement and keeps diners returning.

Good management systems are crucial when dealing with an increase in customer numbers, especially front-of-house. How you manage customers is key and communicating clearly with them is your secret weapon. If they need to wait for a table, let them know how long it will be, advise them of any changes that arise and then, when they’re seated, be clear about how long it will take for their order to arrive.

Christmas is a time for spur-of-the-moment celebrations as well as pre-planned ones that people will be really looking forward to. Your challenge is to keep everyone happy and in the festive spirit! Manage customer expectations by running a wait list and putting a dedicated staff member on whose job is to keep everyone informed. 

If you're based in a holiday destination, many of your customers will be first-tmers rather than regulars, an added challenge! You want to serve as many people as you can but also impress them enough that they consider making a return visit. So, make sure that no matter how busy you get, your team is ready to perform at its best - with clear procedures, and a great manager who leads by example. 

Social media is the best way to inspire your customers and tell them what you’re offering this Christmas. Don’t ‘tell’ them what’s in store, ‘show’ them with photographs and quick videos so anyone walking in can get an idea of what to expect for the holiday season. 

The Christmas trading period puts everyone under pressure, customers included. Planning ahead and having good systems in place helps your staff perform well and prevent meltdowns. It's called the silly season for a reason, but it's also a time to spread joy and good cheer among your staff and customers alike.