Surviving Christmas in a pub


As one of the busiest periods in the pub year, Christmas and New Year can be key to hitting sales targets but it is also important to preserve both your own and your staff’s sanity!’s Ana, Faye and Rachel put their heads together to share some of their collective wisdom. (Disclaimer any similarities to real people or situations are purely coincidental!)

Surviving Christmas in a pub

When taking bookings for Xmas dinners organisation is key. Don’t overbook just because you think the profits are too good to miss. Quality definitely reigns over quantity. Don’t over commit yourselves. Having manageable, realistic numbers will make the entire event a more enjoyable experience for everyone, and you are more likely to get repeat business.

Young? Single? No family commitments? Make the most of your availability to work the shifts for the extra cash. And don’t forget that normally working the Xmas Day shift or New Year’s Eve is double time! Enjoy it while you can earn it!

Keep your standards high if you really want those tips and don’t want to deal with complaints on top of everything else. If you do get complaints make sure that your staff are well-equipped to deal with them, keep that Christmas spirit flowing.

Putting up Christmas decorations is all fun and games; until you have 5 Christmas trees to put up in 2 hours across various rooms. It’s far more stressful unravelling endless amounts of fairy lights in a time frame with customers waiting on the other side of the door. As a word of advice, always play the “I put them up I’m not taking them down” card. Or do as someone we know once did and left the Christmas trees erected in the staff room until somebody else gets fed up of trying to eat their dinner around them and takes them down.

Don’t rush to get customers served. It’s daunting when you are 5 deep at the bar and Sally’s ordered 3 Pornstar Martinis. But, if you rush around with your shaker trying to find the correct glass, turn around that bit too quickly and throw the contents of the shaker over another member of staff, then you’ve just made yourself more work, you have an angry – yet fragrant - member of staff and you’ve got to also find the mop. And Sally still wants those Martinis…

Christmas does seem to be the time for workplaces to have their only work night out of the year. So, prepare yourself to try and balance 10 pints of Bitter on the bar, whilst Jill will “have a wine” and you use telepathy to try and figure out what colour, type and size. Managing all of this whilst shouting across to Jim who’s now halfway through a rendition of Slade to come back to the bar to then order a Guinness whilst swearing that it is the last drink, is a talent. Once you have done this order once, either remember it for your own sanity or run every time they come to the bar.

Your bar team do become like your little family over the Christmas period – even more so than usual. You’re going to see them more than anyone else over Christmas and they are going to nag you to wear the flashing Christmas antlers. Wear them, because when the beer’s just gone, you’re trying extremely hard to get it back on as quick as possible – the customer will stand there distracted by the flashing lights. Which usually leads to a nice long conversation about how the staff down at the Dog and Duck aren’t wearing those and haven’t made an effort like you have.

It is stressful, hard work and long hours working in a pub over the Christmas season but with the hard work do come the rewards. Your regulars will always appreciate your time in making their Christmas fun – usually buying you drinks and tipping. There’s nothing more entertaining (albeit slightly irritating the 43rd time) than watching fully grown men singing Christmas songs and trying to chat up women that chances are they would not attempt to talk to any other time of the year. You have your own little TV show unfolding before you – enjoy it; because in January, you’re going to be cleaning shelves 5 times a week to make the time pass a little more quickly.

Get in the Xmas spirit, wear your jumpers, light up your antlers and most importantly wear your smile, even if you don’t want to be there because you would rather be the other side of the bar, remember you’re making other people’s festive periods better. And if someone offers to buy you a drink – TAKE THE DRINK!

Lastly back to those tips. Christmas is a time of kindness, of giving, of sharing. Do just that with tips – share them. With all your staff.

So, there you have it Christmas in a pub, hard work, great fun, generally quite eventful and over before you know it do your best to try to enjoy it! Ho Ho Ho!