Row of Red and blue Christmas baubles with pine cones

Decorating your pub for the classiest Christmas

Any retail merchandising expert worth their salt knows that the best way to your customers’ hearts at Christmastime is by making them feel welcomed into a festive winter wonderland. And it’s no different for pub goers.

A Christmassy pub is a place people want to go. And, this year perhaps more than any other in living memory, making people feel festive and welcome is something we as Pub Partners are all desperately keen to do. If not just for the sake of our self-employment, then for the sake of giving people a sense of normality in what has been an incredibly challenging year for virtually everyone on the planet.

So, without further ado, let’s look at how to turn your pub into a veritable grotto of beer and good cheer.

Professional pub decorators

Some Pub Partners have enough on their plates with the general everyday running of the pub, especially at this time of year when there’s menu and events planning to do, staff holidays to coordinate and, this year, COVID-19 regulations to consider. So handing over decoration of your pub to a professional pub decorator like Yorkshire firm K.D. Decoratives can make all the difference to your stress levels. Coming in at somewhere around £1,500 for a full Christmas makeover, it might make for a somewhat pricy investment, but the efficiency and simplicity of having a company do the work so you don’t have to might well be worth it. It also means you’re assured of a great result that will add real wow factor to your yuletide environment.

Go traditional all the way

If you search online, you’re sure to come across advice that gives you all kinds of varied guidance on what looks good for what kind of pub, but trust us… you cannot go wrong with traditional Christmas décor. Yellow lights or multicoloured fairy lights instead of white or blue ones will make your pub feel warmer and more inviting on the cold winter nights. Green, gold and red décor will be far more attractive to the average Christmas pub goer than a pink or purple tree with neon banners. It’s all about maximising your appeal, not indulging your own taste.

Twinkle, don’t dazzle

The exterior of your pub should not look like the Blackpool illuminations. Anything too dazzling will just put certain types of customers off. A classy Christmas pub with mass appeal should look, from the outside, like a sanctuary from the rubbish British winter weather outside. It should be the kind of place that makes people think, ‘I bet it’s warm and cosy in there.’ By the same token, it should also not be so subtle that would-be guests fail to notice it as they pass by. So, when you think about lighting the outside of the pub, consider it in terms of how it twinkles. Subtly twinkling yellow outdoor fairy lights or strings of multi-coloured solar-powered bulbs running the length of the pub will do the trick. You don’t need a giant fairy-lit Father Christmas sitting on your pub’s roof to let people know you’re celebrating.

A real tree properly decorated

Pick the perfect spot for your tree – somewhere that’s not going to be too disruptive to seating but still highly visible and then measure the height of the space. Pick a tree that almost touches the ceiling – giving just enough space to put the fairy on top. One lovely way to involve the local community would be to put out messages on your pub’s social media asking customers to make their own traditional decorations to hang on the tree (nothing scruffy or obscene, of course) and offer the prize of a turkey for the best one. You could even involve local primary schools and get the children to make your decorations.

An open fire or something like one

You might not be able to roast chestnuts on a gas or electric log-burner-effect stove, but it certainly does look cosy and that’s what Christmas is all about. Feeling warmed and cosy and all wrapped up in a silly Rudolph sweater that’s too warm to wear indoors with the fire on, but you wear it anyway because it would be rude not to. So, even if your pub doesn’t have the traditional open fire that some of your more naturally Christmassy competitors’ pubs do, consider setting up a space for just such a stove. It will also help keep your guests feeling toasty once they get settled with a pint. And decorate its surroundings with mistletoe and sprigs of real holly (though never touching the hot surfaces or within reach of open flames!)

Chalkboard signage

A lot of publicans these days tend to feel a bit reluctant to splash out on a chalkboard artist. After all, times are tough and how important exactly is chalkboard art in today’s modern pubs? Thing about Christmas is, it’s not modern – it’s as traditional as it gets – and presentation is everything if you want to remain competitive, so a great chalkboard artist, like Neil J Arms, can make all the difference at Christmas. Check out his brilliant Macauley Culkin portrait from Home Alone. Does it get more festive than that?

Bespoke Christmas uniforms for staff

Putting your staff in a cheap felt Santa’s little helper hat or having them walk around with a length of uncomfortable tinsel wrapped around them like a scarf is one way of doing things. It’s not necessarily the best way of setting the Christmassy tone in your pub though. Consider getting bespoke Christmas jumpers for your pub made. They can double up as fun gifts for the team and will tell your clientele that this is one seriously classy Christmas pub that really sets a grotto-like tone.

Shop for Christmas 2021 in January

The wise men and women of Marston’s tend to do their Christmas décor shopping a good 11 months before the event itself. That’s because that’s when even the most luxurious, high-end Christmas decorations are at their cheapest. Whether you’re buying from a wholesaler or from a retailer, you’re sure to find some amazing festive bargains in the January sales that will give you the competitive edge come next Christmas.

These are just a few of our top tips for a Christmas 2020 wonderland in your pub. If you have any suggestions of your own, we’d love to hear them. Send them to communications@marstons.co.uk  and we’ll share the best in next year’s Christmas décor round-up. In the meantime, a very early Merry Christmas from everyone at Marston’s.

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