While for many, Thanksgiving is all about spending time at home with family, for many others ordering takeout or dining at a restaurant is ideal.

For that reason, it could be a great marketing tool to stay open on the holiday to serve this group. Either way, the entire month of November offers opportunities to drive sales with Thanksgiving-related packages and promotions. Here’s how to do it.

Make a Plan

● Hours - Decide what hours you’ll be open on Thanksgiving. You may decide to open for Thanksgiving brunch or to stay open through dinner for the no-cook crowd. Come up with this piece of the plan now so you can find staffing.

● Menu - Create specials that represent your unique take on Thanksgiving. Try to marry the elements of your brand with some Thanksgiving favorites to create something special.

● Reservations - Even if you don’t usually take reservations, they can be extremely useful on holidays, so come up with a plan for taking reservations either via phone, email, or using a reservation platform. Think critically about your capacity, especially with regard to staffing, and open up spaces for reservations that will allow guests to dine comfortably, as they may want to linger and visit with family longer than usual for the holiday.

● Ordering - It’s more important than ever to check your inventory and get your orders in for dry goods and packaging as soon as possible. If you wait, you may miss something you need.

Start Taking Orders Now

Offering catering and to-go options is a great way to drive sales over this holiday. Think about your existing menu items and holiday specials and package them up for groups of 4 or 8 people, with pricing that is reflective of a special holiday meal. Cheese and charcuterie boards, family-style side dishes and salads, roasted meats like turkey and ham, and of course, pies and other desserts are all great options for consumers who want to supplement their homemade food with your dishes.

Plan for what you can handle over the holiday and create limits based on your inventory and staffing levels so that you don’t overwhelm yourself over the holiday weekend. Let guests know when ordering is live and when the cut-off is for Thanksgiving orders. Test your ordering process to make sure it’s intuitive and smooth. Give yourself enough time to prepare and package the orders, and make sure you have extra, high-quality to-go packaging on hand.

Host Friendsgiving

One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is actually Friendsgiving, a less formal version of the holiday that allows folks to get together with their friends before Thanksgiving, when people are usually with their families. This could be dinner or even brunch. Have fun with it! Come up with festive cocktails and a special Thanksgiving menu that puts your own spin on Thanksgiving classics. Add decor and create photo ops to create a memorable, immersive experience. Promote the event online and take reservations in advance.

Hold a Giveaway

This is a great time to host an Instagram giveaway, and giving away gift cards is a smart way to drive business while reminding people to buy gift cards for their loved ones. There are many ways to frame the giveaway. You could post a photo and ask people to follow you and to like, share, and comment on the photo. Or you could keep it simple — post a photo and ask folks to come up with a clever caption. Another idea is to have guests share their own content, ideally something that links back to your restaurant. They should tag your business and maybe use a specific hashtag.

Give Back

Thanksgiving is a time when people reflect on what they have and find ways to support their neighbors in need. Whether you collect canned food, winter coats, or cash, look for ways to give back and use your reach and influence to make a difference.

Embrace Black Friday & Small Business Saturday

The Thanksgiving weekend is full of opportunities to connect with customers, from the day-of to Black Friday to Small Business Saturday. Create a plan with unique offerings for each day. For example, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday would be good days to extend brunch hours or to offer exciting lunch specials.

Remember the Kiddos

Guests may tend to stay a little longer at the table over the holiday weekend, so it’s a good idea to plan for potentially restless little ones. Consider printing coloring sheets and investing in some new crayons and remember your smaller guests when building your Thanksgiving menu. You may also want to add in a bit of training for your servers on how to best accommodate families during the holiday. Things like putting kids’ orders in early and/or bringing the table something to snack on while they wait for their orders can go a long way toward keeping kids from getting hangry and their grown-ups from getting grumpy.

Spread the Word

Once your Thanksgiving plan is in place, it’s time to spread the word. Share details on social media, and send a note to local press as soon as possible to get included in local Thanksgiving round-ups and guides.

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