Our clients think up some of the best restaurant marketing ideas. One of our more creative restaurant owners decided that his New Year’s Eve party would have a theme. In his case, he chose a retro theme. He knew his customers well enough to choose a decade that appeal to them. Needless to say, his theme New Year’s Eve party has a distinct advantage over his competitors because it has a special appeal.

On New Year’s Eve, customers want more than “something to do.” And a restaurant owner who has a smart strategy like a theme
party will attract and satisfy more customers. This goes beyond New Years being solely a moneymaker, as customers build an attachment (and memory) to a restaurant when they come there on a day of particular emotional significance. Most people look over their last year (and their life) on New Year’s Eve. New Years is the greatest example of a holiday with emotional importance, but Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas, Independence Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are also memorable in this way.

Even though there is this sense of deeper meaning, customers are chasing fun on New Year’s Eve and they want to celebrate (whether the last year was so great or the next will be better). If they choose to go to a restaurant rather than staying home or going to a private party, the restaurant has to provide a true party.

Theme parties need to be followed through on. Ask any event planner and you’ll hear how the details excite people and make the theme come alive. Details make all the difference. Calling something a theme party and then making the actual event pretty theme-less is a formula for disappointment. So let’s go through the execution (broken down by stages of the event).

Party Details

  1. First Impression
    They arrive at your themed party They pay $50, or $100 or $250 and they are psyched. You should give them something right away that goes with the theme. You cannot get away with just decorations. Perhaps, you give out a free cocktail that relates to the particular theme.  Maybe you chose one for women and another for men. Don’t leave them wondering for a second what the theme has to do with the party.
  2. Get the Customers to Participate
    You may request that customers adjust their wardrobe a little for the theme. We aren’t talking Halloween, but if it’s clothes from the modern era, some customers may jump on board. It wouldn’t do much harm if the women styled their hair a certain way or the men wear a certain type of tie. For a 50s theme, you may even sell cheap thin ties (I saw for $4 online but charging customers $2 is better) after you tell men to wear a collared shirt. Of course, it should be simple and doable.
  3. Get them Moving
    Many New Years parties have a dance floor. Hiring a dancer or two (especially ones familiar with the appropriate dance) can add
    an extra dimension. Of course, most of your music is going to be modern but that does not mean you can’t mix in a little music related to the era. Perhaps you have the dancer teach your customers a step or two. This can also apply to cultural restaurants (teach people to Rumba at a Cuban restaurant). Customers will appreciate learning something new.
  4. Friendly Contest
    Customers like a friendly contest. If it nothing more than making a pose for a (theme-related) picture (say cigar smoking next to a life-size pic of Al Capote), you can get them excited. You judge it that night and offer an award along with sending their photo to other participants. It should have a little skill involved as otherwise it would be a raffle and you do have to designate people to judge it that night. Finding the best picture out of 30 doesn’t take much resources however. There are a lot of similar ideas (like a short video, etc.). Then put it up on social media so other customers know the fun that they missed.
  5. Something to Take Home
    A little something to take home isn’t a bad idea either, if it isn’t too cheesy. Remember you are trying to create a memory for customers and they may be a little forgetful from alcohol. If they think about it in the next few days, they are a lot more likely to remember their experience.

Throwing a Better Party

If you throw a party, really throw a party. You should differentiate it from your competition and if you use a theme, you need to follow through on the theme. Above all else, it should be fun. For themes, you have many choices. During the upcoming year, the Mayans predicted the apocalypse. Why not use themes like that if your customers would find it interesting? Think about your customers’ interests. It is too late to organize and market a themed party for this New Year’s Eve but there is always next year. For those that have already chosen one, I hope this helps you plan the party. Make it a party worthy of New Year’s Eve and your customers will have a special night (and restaurant) to remember.