Restaurant Guide for the Holidays: 6 Checklist Items [2023]

October 19, 2023 | By Sam Pelton
People toasting at restaurant

Here’s a cheery restaurant stat to lift your holiday spirits…

According to CNBC, new restaurants have a failure rate of approximately 60% within the first year, and 80% within the first 5 years.


But there’s a silver lining to that! It doesn’t mean that you have an 80% chance of failure but rather that you need to do what is necessary to be a part of that 20% that succeed.

So what can a restaurant do to help set themselves up for success in a highly competitive and difficult market—especially as the holidays approach?

In this guide, we’ll walk you through a few tips to help make sure you get the most of this holiday season for your restaurant. Because the holidays are a key strategic time to help make sure your business as a whole finds the success you’re looking for.

The first tip we’ll emphasize is to take full advantage of SMS.


SMS can be highly impactful for your business. Yet only 29% of restaurants report using SMS to “keep in touch” with customers.

With SMS, you’re able to reach people directly on their phones in a format they’ll actually see. (Unlike emails which are often ignored or social media posts which sometimes get barely any impressions.)

Since it has reported read rates of up to 98%, there’s virtually no more effective way to reach the people you’re trying to contact.

So it’s time to start brainstorming how you can better use SMS as a solution to improve your marketing and communication!

And some additional great news is that SMS can be used for multiple different purposes (as you’ll see below).

How Can Restaurants Use SMS for the Holidays?

Here are some examples of ways that restaurants can use SMS.

Holiday Promotions

Hungry for a delicious meal? We've got you covered! Enjoy 20% off any dine-in or takeout order of $30 or more during the week of Thanksgiving (Nov. 21st-27th). Claim deal here: [link]

SMS allows you to get your promotions right into the hands of your audience—that way, they’ll be more likely to see and take advantage of it.

Customer Notifications

Great news! Your table is now ready. Please see the host to be seated. We're looking forward to serving you! Ho-ho-hope you enjoy your meal! 🎅

There are all kinds of notices you can send to help improve communication with your customers—confirmations of their table being ready, reservation reminders, order delivery updates, survey/review requests for recent visits, and anything else that you’d want to notify your customers about.

Staff Updates

Reminder! Mandatory health safety meeting today at 10am. Let your manager know if you’re unable to make it.

You can use SMS not only to communicate with customers but to help you coordinate staff as well (which is especially important with the busyness of the holidays!). This type of notification can include meeting reminders, HR updates, shift notices, weather cancellations, or any other internal communication need.

Restaurant Holiday Checklist

In addition to making full use of SMS, here’s a checklist of 5 things you can do that will help set your business up for success during the holidays.

1. Create and Promote Holiday Menu Items

Holiday menu items

The holidays give you an opportunity to connect with your customers’ nostalgia by offering menu items that remind them of the good feelings associated with those holidays.

Here are some examples of the types of food or flavors you can incorporate for the holidays…

  • Pumpkin (especially pumpkin pie)
  • Roast turkey
  • Glazed ham
  • Gingerbread
  • Eggnog
  • Cider
  • Hot chocolate
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar cookie
  • Peppermint

2. Play Up Your Marketing

Play up your marketing

You can play up the holidays in your marketing plan over the final months of the year.

Consider creating holiday-themed promotions, running contests, offering special discounts, and hosting fun events.

3. Maximize Your Decor and Ambiance

Maximize your decor and ambiance

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Deck out your restaurant with holiday-themed decorations to create a festive atmosphere. You can also use lighting and music to set the mood.

Consider hosting live music or entertainment to enhance your customers’ dining experience.

4. Run Gift Card Sales

Run gift card sales

You’ll likely see an uptick in gift card purchases over the holiday season.

You can run gift card promotions (such as giving an additional $20 gift card for every $100 gift card purchase) to encourage more of these purchases.

5. Create Holiday Content

Create holiday content

Use the holiday season to give you an easy theme for content creation.

You can create holiday videos, make social media posts, and/or write blog articles that your customers would find interesting and enjoyable.

Treat People Like People

One last tip before we wrap up (no pun intended!).

In the hustle and bustle and busyness of the scheduling and marketing and promoting and planning… don’t forget to treat both your customers and your employees like real people.

They aren’t just numbers. They aren’t just a means to an end.

And if you treat people well, they’ll be more likely to be loyal to you and your brand.

Interested in taking the first small step to solidifying your holiday marketing plan? Get a free SMS platform account here so you can see how it would work for your business.

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Start sending mass text messages to your entire list today!