At this time of year, pubs, bars and restaurants up and down the country are dusting off their Christmas trees and unravelling yards of tinsel to decorate their venue in preparation for the festive season. Although these may still seem like the obvious and most abundant choices, they may not be the right ones.
Gone are the days of a Christmas tree on a table by the front door promoting the festive menu, as the traditional decorations comprising of baubles and wreaths are possibly losing their appeal. With that in mind, how can you as an operator create an up-to-date look whilst still maintaining a welcoming, timeless appeal?
Enhance the entrance
Using straightforward design tricks or by adding a few simple touches, you can enhance your venue to create a real festive feeling. This often starts before a customer even walks through the door, by creating a welcoming entrance display that really captures the essence of the atmosphere you are looking to achieve. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, full of flashing fairy lights and bold colours; on the contrary, reserved and understated soft lighting that blends in to the overall scene is often the most effective, particularly when combined with rustic and natural decorations, such as evergreens, twigs, berries and solid wooden logs.
Similarly, by lighting a log fire, not only do you create a cosy atmosphere inside and a wonderful aroma, the warm orange glow it produces makes the venue look very inviting from the outside too.
Pick a theme (and stick to it)
Over the past few years, the industry has really embraced the natural and the rustic timber look. Altering florals displays by replacing coloured flowers with twigs, holly and evergreens replicates the natural world during the winter months very well. Although there is no particular colour to avoid when decorating your venue, it is advisable to pick one theme and stick with it as this is the most effective way to avoid your venue looking uncoordinated. Whatever you choose to do, be bold, brave and committed in your choice of theme.
Think outside of the box
If you want to steer clear of tradition and try something a bit quirky, a detail as simple as additional motifs to your exterior signage is very effective, such as a printed Santa hat or mistletoe. Other tricks that have worked well in the past, particularly in bars, is projecting monochrome festive images and videos onto a wall for visual stimulation. If your venue is lacking the space for a Christmas tree, a unique but effective way of overcoming this is by adding festive wall art or additional bric-a-brac to your existing mantelpiece, decorating it with small ornaments and candles. It’s simple to do, and can look visually stunning.
Create the right atmosphere
As well as the aesthetic appeal, it is as equally important to consider the atmosphere you are looking to achieve. Warm orange lighting created by candles on tables, mantelpieces and windowsills forms a feeling of intimacy, and classic smells such as cinnamon sticks, oranges and mulled wine are a great way to emphasise this warmth in an alternative sensory way.
For hospitality venues, Christmas is primarily about the food and drinks offering to its customers. An increasingly popular but still creative way of showcasing this is by using various marketing methods such as small chalkboards on the table or an easel on the bar. This is also a good place to put a plate of mince pies or a glass of mulled wine to entice your customers into buying into your overall Christmas offering.
Ultimately, the way that you design your venue should reflect who you are and the experience you are offering. Whether you are embracing tradition or trying something more original, creating something understated and simplistic is often far more effective than using what is expected. Embracing individualism and designing something a little different is the perfect way to keep your venue at the forefront of your customers’ minds over the Christmas period.