3 Profitable Holiday Catering Best Practices

Published on: 09/08/2023 in Featured, All

20031 Rtc Turkey Break Roast White Dark Netted

It’s time to get ready for the season’s cheer. Do you realize that on average, the holidays account for 20% of a restaurant’s annual sales, according to a survey of 300 independent and small-chain restaurants conducted for spoton.com? For fine dining establishments, the holiday contribution to annual sales is much higher, accounting for 49% of their annual sales on average.1 To make the most of the season and boost profits, position your restaurant as the top source for festive fare this holiday season with these best practices.


Feature menu claims

Incorporating high-quality ingredients with claims consumers want can provide an elevated feel to your offerings. Consider, instead of just having a choice of chicken or beef, being able to promote no antibiotics ever chicken and angus beef or organic chicken and grass-fed beef. Having tiers of options for premium proteins can support higher prices and higher margins.


Panera, for example, offers multiple catering options year-round and exclaims its ingredient story throughout its website and marketing materials.2 Known for the use of seasonal ingredients, cage-free eggs, and chicken and turkey raised without antibiotics, Panera presents as an elevated casual option for catering business and social events.


Customize your menu

Consider giving the standard turkey a makeover according to your culinary style. In New York City, Japanese-Italian fine dining eatery Kimika turned porchetta into Turchetta by forgoing pork in favor of a turkey breast for an Italian Thanksgiving version.3 If barbecue is your style, consider offering a whole pit-smoked turkey.


You can also make the sides equal culinary standouts. In Jersey City, New Jersey, Maritime Parc featured walnut butter-roasted Brussels sprouts on its Thanksgiving feast.3 Appetizers also play a role in coaxing additional catering sales. For large gatherings, consider offering three different appetizers and provide a mix of cheesy, crunchy, crispy and sweet items. Including red and green holiday colors can get people in the festive spirit.4


For better operational efficiency, consider purchasing value-added ingredients like salad mixes, pre-cut fruits and vegetables, and pre-breaded and cooked proteins. You’ll find that labor-saving ingredients can help you succeed during the holiday rush even if you’re short-staffed.


Special bundles and combos

There are many ways to provide holiday catering solutions for customers who are looking to outsource part—or all— of their holiday cooking. Farmhouse Feasts, for example, is Bob Evans’ brand name for its collection of holiday fare. This includes a cold-packed choice of turkey, pot roast or hickory-smoked ham and a variety of sides with fresh-baked rolls and pumpkin pie in quantities to serve four, eight or up to 10 people. Customers can heat and serve the meals in two hours or less. Hot family meals that feed up to six people are also available for curbside pickup, carryout or delivery during Thanksgiving week.5


In the event a family or gathering has the entree covered but would like to supplement it with some traditional sides, Bob Evans also offers family-size versions of dressing and of mashed potatoes with gravy that start at $9.99.5


Effective promotions

Make your brand more visible by promoting your holiday offerings on-site and across digital channels. At a minimum, make sure you announce your offerings on social media with plenty of time for customers to make orders. If you do email marketing, be sure to personalize the messages, not only individually, but by segment. For example, use one email to target your subscribers who engage with you and another for those who don’t.6


Don’t forget to promote your holiday catered offerings on-site beginning in October or early November. Consider the following ideas to ensure your promotion is effective:


● Train and incentivize front-of-house staff to mention it.
● Announce it via posters and with postcards in check holders and takeout bags.
● Include a QR code on your print promotional materials to direct customers to a holiday party page on your website.6


Seek to enhance your year-end profits by positioning yourself as a key contributor to your guests’ successful holiday celebrations. Begin with the superior meal quality strategically packaged into versatile bundle options. Then dynamically promote these offerings with all the resources at your disposal for success.




  1. 2022 State of Restaurant Tech Report, https://www.spoton.com/blog/2022-state-of-restaurant-tech-report/
  2. The Familiar, Made Fantastic™, Our Food, Panera, https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/food-values/food-beliefs.html
  3. “How Your Restaurant can Offer Holiday Catering,” pos.toasttab.com, https://pos.toasttab.com/blog/on-the-line/catering-holidays
  4. “A Holiday Party Caterer’s 10 Tips for Making Your Party Festive and Fun,” Amysculinaryadventures.com, https://www.amysculinaryadventures.com/post/a-holiday-party-caterer-s-10-tips-for-making-your-party-festive-and-fun
  5. “Bob Evans Restaurants is Putting the Focus Back on Family Time with Complete Holiday Meals to Go for Thanksgiving and Holiday Gatherings,” Bob Evans, Nov. 4, 2022, https://www.prweb.com/releases/2022/11/prweb19000853.htm
  6. “8 Holiday Party Tips to Drive Restaurant Profit,” sevenrooms.com, Oct. 6, 2021, https://sevenrooms.com/en/blog/8-holiday-party-tips-to-drive-restaurant-profit/