The Pros and Cons of Adding Holiday and Seasonal Items to Your Menu

holiday menu concept with place setting and holly berriesWhen done well, holiday or seasonal menu items can bring in new customers, increase servers’ PPA, and even establish greater customer loyalty.

At the same time, devising and testing new menu items can also be resource-intensive. That’s why it’s important to look at the pros and cons of offering your guests holiday or seasonal items.


Your customers get to try something new.

This, of course, is the main reason that restaurants add seasonal items: to give their customers a new dish to try. Hopefully, their experience with this dish will be good enough to keep them coming back even when it’s no longer on the menu.

Avoiding menu fatigue is also important for your regular customers. If your menu never changes, a certain percentage of your regulars will get tired of eating with you – and there’s no guarantee that they’ll return once they’ve left.

Holiday items can create a festive atmosphere, spurring increased guest spending.

Holiday-themed items can make your guests feel more festive, which often translates to a willingness to spend more than they usually would. (Marketing Vitals’ software solutions can help you pinpoint exactly how your holiday items are related to higher PPAs.)

By choosing and marketing items that are clearly inspired by the holiday season, you can also appeal to customers looking for a spot to bring visiting relatives or friends.

You can increase customer and staff engagement.

Seasonal and holiday items can increase your engagement levels, as staff will spend more time explaining the dish and customers may have more questions. If you’re featuring a traditional holiday item, some customers may even share their own memories of that dish. This can improve their relationship with your restaurant.


Some customers will always want familiarity.

At any restaurant, there will always be some customers who prefer familiarity every time. For these customers, seasonal or holiday items may be of no interest to them.

If these customers make up a significant portion of your clientele, then investing time and money into a new holiday dish might not be cost-effective. Make sure you know your customer base before deciding to add to your menu.

Staff may need additional training.

Depending on how extensive your holiday or seasonal offerings are, your staff may need some additional training to be able to sell those menu items.

Are you creating a full holiday menu, or just a special entree and appetizer? If you’re going for a full menu, make sure your managers and trainers have the time to run every server through the new offerings.

Customers might not like it.

As with any new menu item, there’s a certain amount of risk involved. What if your customers don’t like your holiday offering?

Well, if they don’t, it’s not a disaster. But it can be hard on your bottom line, especially if you’ve had to order new foods or have your chef train back-of-the-house staff on a new preparation technique.

One way to make it more likely that your seasonal or holiday menu items will succeed is to use Marketing Vitals’ menu analysis. The program can analyze your menu to show you which menu combinations work best, what’s being ordered the most, and more. Using this data, you can craft seasonal and holiday specials that will have the greatest chance of success in pleasing your customers.

Want to learn more about making your menus more effective? Read “Menu Engineering 101.

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