The holiday season is the most profitable time of year for the majority of catering businesses. While wedding caterers find themselves booked through the summer months, almost every catering business will be contracted for a holiday party, whether it is a corporate Christmas party, a Hanukkah gathering or a seasonal dinner party.
There are several ways to market yourself for holiday catering and ensure that you have pleased your clients. Making sure that your holiday feast pleases your clients and guests is absolutely essential at this time of year. If your catering is deemed a success, there is a good chance that your client will contract with you again next year. Incorporate the following elements into your holiday catering business strategy:
Even before you get a contract, you should consider purchasing seasonal supplies like holiday cookie cutters, tablecloths and party napkins, far in advance. These items often sell out before December even arrives. Furthermore, long before the holiday season begins, you can expect to get contracts for holiday parties, not to mention the clients you will gain at the last minute. For most caterers, this is the busiest time of the year, so make sure you have the supplies and labor needed to cater events back-to-back.
Many people in America like to indulge in traditional Christmas foods during the holiday season. To market yourself to them, you could make up a seasonal menu full of common Christmas dishes. This could include any or all of the following dishes:
- Roast goose
- Stuffed turkey
- Cranberry sauce
- Brown sugar glazed ham
- Buñuelos – (sweet, deep-fried Mexican pastries)
- Candied nuts
- Roasted, glazed duck
- Mexican hot chocolate
- Peppermint bark
- Mashed sweet potatoes
- Egg nog
Make it clear that you can do kosher dishes for your Jewish customers. Create a separate, kosher menu and promote it on your website or advertisements. Offering a kosher menu will give you the opportunity to cater Hanukkah parties and will allow you to market yourself to Jewish clients. Also be sure to include common Hanukkah dishes on your kosher menu. Some of the most common Hanukkah treats are the following:
- Potato latkes
- Kugel (jewish pudding or casserole)
- Sufganiot (Jewish doughnuts)
- Mushroom soup
- Honey glazed lamb
- Roasted chicken
- Challah bread
Holiday tablecloths, colorful napkins, plastic party plates and plastic party cups can enhance the air of festivity at the party by bringing color and iconic symbols to the event. You can also use seasonal plastic table skirting, seasonal cups and red or green plastic utensils. These items will enhance the overall festive nature of your holiday catering.
At holiday parties, any overt religious references may be inappropriate or unwelcome. Unless you are catering a church party or a Christmas or Hannukah party where everyone is of the same religion, or your client specifically requests religious decorations, try to avoid too many overt religious references in your décor and food.
If there will be kids present at the event, consider making fun or playful foods for them, like candy-cane shaped cookies or Santa Claus cakes made from Christmas cake pans. If you will provide full-service catering, you could even dress up like Santa or an elf. Another great way to please kids at a holiday party is to hand out toys or party favors, but make sure you do not give any toys with small parts to children under three years old.
Since next to the wedding season, the holiday season is the busiest time of year for caterers, you should offer some kind of incentive so that you will stand out above the competition. A lot of people are on a tight budget during this time of year, so offering a Christmas special is a good way to get customers. Consider the following promotions:
- Complimentary party favors. If clients contract you to cater their Christmas party, you will provide free party favors for everyone at the event. This can include Christmas ornaments, take-home cookies or candies, candles and other widely loved gifts.
- Gift basket delivery. Advertise that if you cater someone’s holiday party, you will deliver free gift baskets to five friends or family members of their choice.
- Free flair bartending. For many people, the holiday season is the perfect time to throw a cocktail party. Offering free alcohol would not be profitable, but if you offer free flair bartending, the perceived value of your catering services will greatly increase. This is a great method of offering an extra incentive over your competition.
- Visit from Santa or Frosty. If you will be catering a party where kids are present, include a visit from Santa Claus or Frosty the Snowman with your catering services. These loveable characters will not only add another festive element to the occasion, they will also occupy the children so that the adults can enjoy themselves.
If you incorporate all of the above into your holiday marketing and business strategies, you will not only be competitive during the holiday season, but you will also make a good impression on clients that may want to hire you during other parts of the year.
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