8 Holiday Cost-Efficient Ideas for Restaurant Merchandise
September 21, 2022
The holidays are a prime time to drive additional revenue. Use these creative, low-cost ideas as inspiration this holiday season.
The holiday season is the busiest time of the year for restaurants. It’s also when restaurants can drive additional revenue with creative ideas outside daily operations. One significant opportunity is selling restaurant merchandise. However, during the holidays, when time is limited and resources are focused on increased service, offering merchandise can be daunting and expensive if it’s a new line of business.
Fortunately, restaurants already have all the tools they need to sell merchandise. With creativity, restaurant operators can turn existing assets into unique and memorable merchandise for shoppers. Here are eight ideas for low-cost, low-effort merchandise to sell this holiday season.
1. Signed Cookbooks
If you're a chef or restaurant that has published a book, the gift-giving season is the perfect time to use it to drive additional revenue. First, offer a limited number of signed copies during the holiday season. The added uniqueness drives demand and helps push inventory out the door. Then, take it up a notch and offer the buyer the chance to request a message to the receiver in addition to the author's signature. This simple touch adds personality to the book and provides a touching and thoughtful holiday gift.
2. Recipe Card of Popular Dish
There are more ways than one to profit from a popular dish on a menu. Typically, a mainstay menu item gains a loyal following from guests and can eventually become the dish a restaurant is known for. Often it is these signature dishes that get featured in food media and have recipes that go viral online. One unique way to share the recipe and earn revenue is by designing a branded recipe card featuring the recipe. To keep expenses low, design and print the card in-house. It's a small token — and great for stocking stuffers accompanying a gift card.
3. Chef Curated Gift Basket
Diners and loyal social media followers love to get a glimpse into a chef's lifestyle inside and outside the restaurant. Turn this interest into a profit and share a little about the personal brand of a restaurant with a curated gift basket by the chef or a key staff member. Items could include wine, olive oils, snacks, restaurant partner products and swag—the more creative and personalized, the better.
4. Virtual or In-House Classes
Virtual cooking classes were necessary during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic but have become a mainstay as an added revenue stream for restaurants. Offer a unique or limited series of virtual or in-house classes for holiday shoppers to purchase and gift this holiday season to restaurant lovers and home cooks. Sell tickets for classes and provide a gift certificate for the recipient. To minimize additional holiday stress, schedule the classes for after New Year's Day. Classes can teach any skills you use in the restaurant: knife skills, cocktail 101, bread and pastry, cooking like a chef at home or learning the basics of a restaurant's signature cuisine.
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5. Shrubs, Syrups and Mixers
Take advantage of a restaurant's beverage program and sell a small batch of the program's signature shrubs, syrups and mixers this holiday. Loyal diners and followers will jump at the opportunity to give a home mixologist a sample of a unique and limited supply of a restaurant's beverage concoction. Include a branded tag or card accompanied with suggestions on how to use it in a recipe.
6. Baking Kits
The holidays are a popular time to bake together with family and friends. Offer baking kits for a bake-at-home gift to spread holiday cheer and create memorable holiday moments. Home bakers will love the experience of baking the items they love from their favorite restaurants and bakeries. Include a holiday branded card with recipes and instructions for the receiver to keep with their favorite recipes.
7. Custom Plateware, Art and Staff Apparel
Restaurants are becoming more collaborative with local artists for custom plateware, art and staff apparel. The uniqueness of the custom pieces gains diner and follower attention and is an added revenue stream for the business. Offer a limited quantity during the holidays; the opportunity to add a part of your restaurant into diners' and followers' homes expands brand awareness and transitions a hospitality brand into a lifestyle brand. As a bonus, partnering with artists promotes another small business and drives their holiday revenue.
8. Bundle Existing Merchandise
Repositioning existing merchandise like shirts, hats, trinkets and stickers during the holidays can help increase sales and push the remaining inventory out the door. Bundle similar items and market them with a theme or as a holiday gift set. Imagine offering a hoodie, beanie and koozie for winter campfires or keychain, stickers and socks for stocking stuffers. Catch shoppers' attention by categorizing them with catchy titles and sharing on social media.
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