top of page

How to Prepare Your Restaurant for Holiday Catering

It’s beginning to look a lot like the Christmas season (as we know it) again, so make your restaurant the centerpiece of this year’s festivities by getting ready for holiday catering.

Food, football, and family… that’s what an all-American Thanksgiving is all about.

Early November is the perfect time to start getting down to the business of planning your catering menu, promoting your delivery and take-out offerings, and sharing it all with your customers via social media and email sequencing. From increasing sales to raising awareness about your restaurant’s new or improved delivery services, catering for the holidays could quickly turn this season back into the most wonderful time of the year for your restaurant.

Here are some great tips to get started.

Plan your holiday menu.

Consumers will be spending more time socializing with family and friends in restaurants this year. Annual corporate and social events that drive more catering orders are back to business as usual. And time-strapped guests will rely on takeout and delivery simply to get dinner on the table.

Supplementing an existing menu to emphasize appetizers, sides, and shareable and small plates can help boost sales during this key period.

Start making plans with your chef and kitchen staff to create new menu offerings that are a fit for the holidays. Decide on offerings now so you can start creating marketing promotions around them.

  • Add seasonal items: Create menu items that bring in flavors of the season such as peppermint, pumpkin, gingerbread, vanilla, hazelnut, and cranberry.

  • Create dinner bundles: Everyone craves the classic dishes served at Thanksgiving, but few relish the time and effort that goes into preparing them and cleaning up the mess. Your restaurant might not normally offer items like mashed potatoes and gravy, candied yams, or pumpkin pie, but this is one day where making an exception is likely to pay off with reservations or takeout/delivery orders.

  • Limited-time offers: Take your seasonal menu up a notch by creating limited-time offers that customers will want to visit to try “while they last!”

  • Think family-style: Many families and groups plan gatherings over the holidays. Create family-size menus that serve 4-8 guests to tap into this customer base.

  • Create or optimize catering menus: Go bigger than family size by creating a catering menu that can serve parties of all sizes.

  • Create a variety of catering packages: Create full-service catering packages for larger holiday events, but keep the individual in mind too. Many people would be happy to incorporate a few of your items into their holiday dinner spread to save on time and hassle, so be sure to advertise this option to give more customers a chance to consider it.

  • Get creative: Consider coming up with holiday-inspired dishes like a mashed potato or pie bar. Ask your kitchen staff for input to increase morale during the holidays.

  • Don’t forget drinks and dessert: Guests are in a celebratory mood during the holidays, so expect interest in desserts and beverages to be high - and plan accordingly. Seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice and peppermint, premium ingredients, and over-the-top festive presentations are among the ways to hit the sweet spot. Desserts to go like whole cakes, cheesecakes, pies, cookie trays, and other crave-able pastries designed to feed a group—are another way to drum up sales and provide convenience for customers. Drinks are a great way to increase order sizes. As you create food menus, add both alcoholic and nonalcoholic specialty menu items.

Get ready for holiday reservations.

Now is the time to start booking your dining room for holiday reservations. Consider the different groups that will be looking for reservations during the holidays.

  • Companies looking for private spaces for office parties

  • Large families and groups looking for tables to accommodate large groups

  • Small families and groups looking for a place to celebrate on the day of a holiday

Decide which type of reservations and groups you want to target this holiday season, and begin to put both policies and marketing initiatives in place to support those plans.

Get ready for large take-out and delivery orders.

  • Create deadlines for catering and large take-out orders and start sharing your policies and plans on your website and social media.

  • Order additional delivery packaging.

  • Hire additional delivery drivers.

  • Get help with delivery platforms like Sauce that can complement your own in-house delivery crew and save you money on high commissions for third-party delivery platforms.

Get the word out

It’s not enough to set up holiday initiatives; you need to get them in front of your customers who are most likely to be interested in your holiday offerings.

Once you know what holiday initiatives you want to run this holiday season, it’s time to plan the marketing tactics that will help you promote your initiatives.

  • Create landing pages to promote your holiday initiatives.

  • Create a social media content calendar.

  • Use social media and email blasts

  • Use geofencing marketing to reach customers right around your restaurant.

  • Utilize cross-channel marketing

Prepare your staff and holiday scheduling early

Between your normal delivery orders and catered events, your front- and back-of-house staff will be busier than usual. And now is the perfect time to check in with staff to make sure everyone is up to date on expectations and is ready to go for the holiday catering season.

Consider bringing on a few temporary staff members to ensure your restaurant is prepared for the holiday rush. Whether it’s washing dishes or delivering food, the extra hands should help things run as smoothly as possible in your restaurant.

If you’re unsure where to seek help, try posting positions on college job boards. Students who are on break may be looking for ways to earn a little extra cash for the holidays.

By Eileen Strauss


Thanks for subscribing!

Get a Taste of Our Secret Sauce
Stay up to date with the latest restaurant delivery news

Bringing in






Driving Repeat Business

Making Delivery Work

*Sauce recovers over 98% of restaurant delivery refund claims.

Commission Free Direct Delivery

Access To Unlimited Supply Of Delivery Drivers

Live Mobile Order Tracking

Live Delivery Support

Refund Reconciliation Management

Virtual Telephone Answering

Feedback Collection & Management


bottom of page