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Seasonal suggestions

Pub, restaurant and bar operators across Great Britain may face an uncertain trading environment this Christmas, but consumers are still likely to spend an additional £562m on drinks alone out-of-home, with some 211 million visits expected to be made to pubs, bars, and restaurants over the festive period, according to statistics from CGA. Ensuring that your establishment enjoys a very merry Christmas requires planning, planning planning. We bring you advice, tips and some tasty menu suggestions to help you prepare for what should be the busiest time of the year.

Planning for success

Dan GillDan Gill, founder of catering and hospitality management company Dine, gives his top tips for perfect planning for the festive season.

1. Keep up-to-date with the latest news
Although you might expect consumers to pay more on food and drink during the festive period, always pay attention to the economic and political climate and be prepared to offer good value for money. Make sure you consider and plan for Brexit uncertainty and the potential impact this may have on consumer spending. 

2. Look back at the trends of 2017
Take inspiration from the trends of 2017 when planning your festive offering as this will give you an idea of what consumers are looking for when dining out, even at Christmas. Local produce, unusual ingredients and experiences, and technology to improve efficiency have all played a major part in the hospitality sector and its offer to consumers. 

3. Early planning is essential
Plan and order in stock well in advance so that you have everything you need when the first booking comes in. An effective festive marketing campaign should also be planned early to give potential customers time to assess your festive offering and choose you as their caterer this Christmas.

4. Think creatively
While turkey remains a popular festive meat with approximately 10 million consumed last year, consumers are increasingly looking for festive feasts with a difference. Why not try a traditional goose, rich game such as venison or a succulent rib of roast beef? 

5. Vegetarians matter
VegetablesMore than 2.1m people in the UK are now estimated to be vegetarian and this trend is expected to continue. Make it easy for vegetarians and vegans, or those simply looking to try Christmas without meat, to book with you by including enticing alternatives. Look to indulgent dishes such as mushroom wellington and vegan haggis for that alternative to the traditional meat centrepiece. A plentiful selection of vegetables, vegetarian gravy and stuffing should always be on offer to encourage more people to book their festive feast with you. 

6. Leave out the gluten
Young people are increasingly aware of the health implications of gluten and are leading the trend towards buying gluten-free products so make sure to include this target audience in your planning. The 5% of the population that suffers from coeliac disease will also be very grateful that you are catering for them. Offer vegetable and fruit-based canapés, make sure your pigs in blankets use gluten-free sausages and use rice in stuffing to make sure you cater for the gluten-free consumer. 

7. Serve up something sweet
Christmas is still a time for indulgence and sweet treats will always be especially popular. When planned right, desserts can be an effective method of driving up your profits. While it’s important to include traditional desserts such as Christmas pudding and chocolate yule log, make sure to offer something that will cut through the rich food. Our zingy Lemon Posset is perfect for ending the festive feast on a lighter note. 

Lemon PossetLemon Posset 

Serves 8 

INGREDIENTS
600ml double cream
140g caster sugar
2 large lemons 

METHOD
1. Place the sugar and cream into a pan over a low heat and bring to the boil slowly. Boil for around three minutes until removing to cool. 

2. Add the lemon juice and zest of the two large lemons. 

3. Whisk for a few minutes then add the mixture to serving pots or glasses. 

4. Put in the fridge overnight (or until set). To finish, add some candied lemon zest and serve with a shortbread biscuit or brandy snap.

Established in 1998, Dine caters for more than 100 corporate events and 200 weddings a year as well as offering exclusive private dining. The company provides event services for organisations ranging from English Heritage and the National Trust to the owners of some of the UK’s most notable private houses. www.dine.co.uk

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