It’s never too early for Christmas planning 

With the summer sun still shining – some days at least – the prospect of starting to plan for the Christmas and New Year trading might seem a little premature. However, operators who aren’t already starting to focus on the peak trading period at the end of the year may find they are already behind the curve.

The major catering suppliers have already published their Christmas catalogues, full of everything needed to serve up everything from mince pies to a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings. On-the-ball hotels, restaurants and pubs are now starting to put out feelers to their corporate clients to get those all-important function bookings in the diary.

As well as the party season in the run-up to Christmas, with offices, organisations and groups of friends getting together for food and drink, the Christmas Day occasion itself has become increasingly important for the hospitality.

Research by reservations specialist Bookatable show that there has been a fivefold increase  in the number if consumers eating out on Christmas Day since 2010,  with a third of people now saying they would consider going out rather than have the traditional Christmas Dinner at home. Industry analyst Horizons also reports that 72% of consumers ate out at some point during the two week run-up to Christmas 2016.

Add in New Year’s Eve parties, and the opportunity for operators who can gear up early enough to secure their share of bookings is clear. However, with competition high, consumer confidence uncertain as the rate of inflation continues to outpace wage growth, and wholesale prices for food and drink rising, careful planning to get the offer right is essential.

The challenge is to plot a careful course between offering seasonal menu options that create that all-important sense of something special, while also offering a range of price points in order to accommodate different customer budgets.

  • Portion control: As always, there are plenty of choices on offer from both the major catering suppliers, as well as increasingly from specialist catering butchers, when it comes to added-value products. These range from basic portioned-and-stuffed turkey to a variety of more exotic glazed, marinated and coated centre-plate options taking in not just turkey, but duck, goose and a range other choice. While these added value portioned and stuffed products are often pricey compared to a fresh bird, it’s also worth remembering that they can help save staff costs in the kitchen, minimise food waste and make GP planning and portion control very straightforward.
  • Dietary choice: With many people eating out in groups at Christmas, whether it’s with family, friends or the annual office do, those with special dietary needs can often decide the choice of where to eat for a large group, so they need to be accommodated on Christmas menus. Operators will find more gluten free choices than ever on offer from suppliers this Christmas, as well as vegetarian and seafood options.
  • Buffet options: These can be very popular with groups trying to celebrate the festive season on a budget, and it is definitely worth having a range of buffet choice available as an alternative to the full sit-down experience.
  • Dessert delights: Booze and bling seem to be the watchwords for desserts this year. Afters with a little something extra added include alcohol-infused cheesecakes and pastries with added sparkle and glitter.


Whatever the approach, the sooner you can have a menus and pricing in place, the better – and don’t keep the news to yourself. As well as having menus visible in the pub, post them online and highlight the options through social media, as well as emailing or dropping off menus with local businesses and organisations, to secure bookings.

It’s also not too late to consider switching suppliers in order to get the best deals and counter the challenge of rising prices. The newly-launched Lynx Purchasing Savings widget, on our home page at, enables operator to work out the average annual savings that can be achieved by buying at prices negotiated by Lynx Purchasing, based on the operator’s annual purchasing budget and our proven track record working with a whole range of businesses.

When planning seasonal menus. keep track of costs and maintain margins using the Lynx Purchasing GP Calculator App, available FREE for Apple and Android devices. Endorsed by the Craft Guild of Chefs, the App helps chefs to monitor margins, particularly specials, using their smartphone or tablet in a busy kitchen. You can download from the App Store or Google Play, using the links below:

For iPhones: Lynx Purchasing GP Calculator App for Apple iPhone and iPad

For Android: Lynx Purchasing GP Calculator App on Google Play  

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