A Christmas Day Checklist for your Restaurant

As anybody who works in hospitality or catering will know, Christmas day is one of, if not, the busiest and most stressful days of the year.

You don’t want to be the one responsible for anything going wrong on Christmas day, so it’s crucial to ensure all of your team members are prepped and ready for when the guests arrive.

Every member of your team can help in their own way to ensure that Christmas day runs smoothly. There are some key components that every section of your restaurant can complete to help tide service over at an acceptable and commendable pace.

Front of House/Waiting Staff

  • Set your tables as early as possible – if the visual appeal of your restaurant floor relies on a perfectly set table, make sure you do this in advance to spare time in the morning. As soon as your last sitting leaves, don’t just leave the table clean, set it for the next day. It may mean everyone stays behind for an hour the night before, but it’s one less thing to tick off the list in the morning.
  • Make a list and check it twice – run over your reservations at least once before, and once before everyone arrives. Ensure your tables fit the right amount of covers for the party size, and make sure you know when each table is meant to be arriving, so you can schedule the right amount of staff to complement the capacity.
  • Always have someone on the restaurant floor – whether it’s extra gravy, a top up of wine or a photo that needs to be taken, don’t ever leave your customers without a server who they can see. Keep the magic of Christmas alive for your guests by going above and beyond to provide a top-class service.

Bar Staff

  • Stock up on festive spirits – during Christmas, the drinks you hardly sell the rest of the year will make a comeback for this period. Baileys, brandy, mulled wine and prosecco are the usual Christmas drinks of choice. Ensure you have enough of these tipples in stock, so they’re always on hand, it saves an impatient customer and saves you having to run to and from the liquor cabinet.
  • Keep ice/garnish levels replenished – this speaks for itself. If possible, cut enough garnishes the night before to avoid losing a pair of hands to do this on the day. Guaranteed customers will be impressed by your preparation and speed should this be completed in advance.
  • Dedicate someone to wash and polish glasses – there would be nothing worse than running out of the correct glasses on a day like Christmas. Part of the appeal is the perfectly presented food and drink, so make sure to have someone constantly replenishing glasses (and stock should they have time!) to help with efficiency on Christmas day.

Kitchen Staff

  • Prep in advance – when it comes to Christmas day service, every second counts. Save stress on the day itself by preparing as much as possible the day before. Cranberry sauce or chopping veg, every step sorted in advance will both help with efficiency and save time to rectify any last-minute disasters on the day.
  • Defrost in time – it would be a kitchen nightmare if, on Christmas day, the turkey (or anything else for that matter) that hasn’t finished defrosting. Make sure you leave enough time for this to avoid a Christmas day disaster!
  • Remember to preheat – This could be another turkey disaster, and it can be avoided by remembering to preheat the oven. Allow enough time for any ovens to reach full temperature before cooking your food to ensure the best quality possible.
  • Factor in rest time – some joints of meat like beef need adequate rest time to guarantee the most tender meat as moisture is retained in the muscle fibres. Remember to factor this into your serving times to avoid serving less than perfect quality meat.

If you tick off all these points, you will sure to have a smooth dinner service on the big day, but, most importantly enjoy your Christmas day and remember to celebrate after the dinner service.


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