Your guests are excited, baby sitters are hired, and Ubers are at the ready. It’s New Year’s Eve, and it’s time to celebrate in style. Here are six ways to make your restaurant a New Year’s Eve destination this year!

Live Entertainment

Create a lively and festive ambiance with live music! Bands and musicians book up fast for the holidays, so hire talent soon. Consider the vibe you want to create--smooth, romantic jazz or up-tempo covers? Many bands have YouTube videos of live performances so that you can ‘audition’ them on your own time. Have the band or musician stop by on off hours to test equipment and run a trial set-up so you don’t have any surprises on NYE.


Set a fun, exciting tone for the evening with giveaways. Gift cards are great for this. You can put an envelope under guests’ seats or somewhere in the place setting, or you can connect a giveaway with a call to action to inspire your guests to post their NYE experiences to social media. If there are businesses you work closely with in the community (neighboring shops perhaps, such as retail stores, hotels, salons, etc.), offer to do a gift card swap with them. Or, consider offering a branded item for guests to remember the night. You can get champagne flutes (and just about anything else) printed with your logo and custom messaging.

Call on the Early Adopters

Contact last year’s guests and offer them the best seating times and tables for this year’s festivities. Share pictures from last year if you have them and include any insight into this year’s menu and/or beverage pairings.

A Bite to Remember

Your New Year’s Eve menu is the place to pull out all the stops. Indulge your guests with the best, most memorable offerings. Let your chefs be creative and have fun. This should be a night to remember! Just do your diligence on the front end to make sure you’re covering costs. Cost out new menu items in advance to make sure your price per head is reasonable. You can either offer beverage pairings as part of the ticket price, as an additional ticket price (designated drivers and other sober guests might appreciate the option), or a la carte. Just make sure everyone who wants one has a glass of champagne to toast the New Year. (Count those flutes in advance!) As soon as you have your menu in place, share it with returning guests, newsletter subscribers, and social media followers.

Make Your Restaurant a New Year's Eve DestinationMake Your Restaurant a New Year's Eve DestinationA Special Moment

Plan a special moment for your New Year’s countdown. Create a game plan so that you know how your guests will experience the big moment. Will you watch the televised version, or will you do your own countdown? There are several NYE countdown sites online so you know your countdown will be right on time. Next, decide if you’ll drop balloons, hand out confetti (it gets messy) or noisemakers, and then make sure you have the proper amount for each guest.

Photo Opps

Your guests will be wearing their sparkly best on NYE. Help them remember the moment for years to come by setting up a photo station. If there’s a business that offers photo booths in your area, contact them for pricing. If hiring someone isn’t in the budget, setting up a DIY photo booth is actually pretty simple:

  1. Create a backdrop—This can be a solid color or pattern. You can also include signage or simply the name of your restaurant in the background, possibly with a banner of some sort, for example “The Four Seasons New Year’s Eve 2017!” A 4’ x 6’ backdrop should do the trick, but do some test shots to make sure you are seeing what you (and your guests) want to see.
  2. Add some props—Thought bubbles and word bubbles, big 2018 glasses, feather boas, and funny hats.. You can find some great props at craft stores, party stores and big box stores in the NYE party section.
  3. Create a hashtag—You want to be able to follow and possibly share some of these when your guests post them. Create a hashtag that reflects your brand and the occasion.
  4. Buy an instant-film camera that has a timer feature, and make sure to have plenty of film! In this Instagram-obsessed world, people really value a printed photo. It has that old photo booth charm. An instant film camera is a pretty modest investment ($100-$250) that creates a ton of fun. Set up the camera on a sturdy tripod and have a printed instruction sheet so that guests can manage the booth without staff assistance.
  5. One national company offers a booth in a box option that might be good middle ground between hiring a business to set up a photo booth and doing it yourself from scratch. Designate someone on staff to check on the photo booth several times during the evening to make sure things are running smoothly.

Once you’ve got your party plan in place, be sure to let local press, guests, and prospective guests know what to expect.

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