Immediately after every holiday season—tired as I may be--I think about next year, and I look at December to see where Christmas falls. If Christmas will be on a Wednesday next year, for example, I’m not that happy, because I know that our schedule will not be “clean.” Some companies may be open on the Monday Before Christmas Eve while others may just shut down early, and this scenario means we may have less actual event/drop-off days. We will also have more staff issues because no one wants to work right up to the holidays.
This holiday season is optimal for scheduling, however, because Christmas is on a Monday. That makes Friday, December 22nd, the big day. After that, bookings may be spotty.
I’ve mentioned before that while some catering consultants claim that December should be one of the biggest catering months of the year, I have never found this to be true. Don’t get me wrong—it certainly felt like it was—but by the time the slow last December week was factored in, all we ever did was have a normal and decent month.
This is what happens when Christmas falls on a Monday--like this year:
Week one: November 27th – December 3rd: Too close to Thanksgiving for any holiday parties. Normal business. Most of the week is November and not December.
Week two: December 4th – December 10th: Begin to see some holiday bookings toward the end of the week. Otherwise normal.
Week three: December 11th – December 17th: One of the two prime weeks. Lots of office building buffets and holiday events, in addition to regular business.
Week four: December 18th – December 24: This is the big one. I’ve found that lots of customers want their food on the same day, Friday, December 22nd. You’ll definitely be ready for a vacation after this one.
Week five: December 25th – December 31st: Slow week, leftover events, some short notice calls, and possibly a New Year’s Eve Event.
Since you are basically doing a whole month’s business in three weeks, take into consideration the stress that this is placing on your equipment, vehicles and staff. Keep enough inventory available to handle last-minute orders. Have a staff meeting before the holiday and explain the major events that you already have booked. Continue to educate your staff about the vagaries of the holiday season; update and inform them of schedule changes as soon as you are aware of them. Put off any big picture thinking until after December 25th as your most important job this holiday season is to get the food out on time.
Finally, if you have a great season, spread the wealth, as staff bonuses or a nice night-on-the-town as a group goes a long way.
My staff and I have been through almost 100 cumulative holiday seasons; please do not hesitate to contact us if you need help!