Bakers Journal

Concepts for Success: Handling the holidays

November 24, 2021
By Diane Chiasson

Nine quick tips on how your bakery should handle the holidays with minimum stress and maximum sales

Make sure you offer treats from other cultures, such as laddu or laddoo. Have Diwali, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and even a New Year’s Eve theme for your goods. Photo: Elena Sistaliuk / adobe stock

The holiday season is in full swing, and that means it’s time to get into the festivities at your bakery store. This year’s holidays will certainly feel a little different, but people are very eager to go out now and experience some of the familiar holiday treats your bakery offers. 

Here are nine quick tips on how your bakery should handle the holidays.

1. Review 2020, and plan from it
I am positive that you have your last year’s holiday sales. By accurately tracking and using past data, you will be able to create a realistic forecast. You will be able to configure promotions and staffing levels to ensure optimal productivity, staffing and service. These documents should be the most important papers that you need to review. You need to assess when you sold and how much you sold as it is the only way to predict what you need to order and make for this year’s holidays. You should get input from your employees, so they feel like they are part of the plan and eventual solution.

2. Understand the importance of scheduling properly
Proper scheduling is vital to the successful management of your bakery operation during the holiday season. Review your to-do list and schedule, high-priority and urgent activities, essential and accurate bakery production, inventory and maintenance tasks, employee schedule, and customer service. Avoid taking on more than you can handle. Understand what you can realistically achieve with your time and make sure to have enough time for essential tasks. Always add contingency time for the unexpected. Try to achieve a good work-life balance by having enough time for your family and friends, exercise and hobbies. 


3. Get in the holiday spirit and set the stage
’Tis the season for decorating! Remember that how you decorate your bakery for the holiday season will influence your customers’ buying habits. Make sure your bakery store is inviting with a cheerful ambiance and feels holiday-friendly. Your storefront should be super clean and welcoming, and your store’s interiors encourage the upsell with fun and festive decorations, twinkle lights and holiday music. A bit of greenery and bows may be all you need. Just remember that your customers don’t just want to eat holiday-inspired food: they also want to experience the holiday season.  

4. Entice taste buds with holiday specialty baked goods and drinks
Isn’t it the perfect time to bring in a special menu? Introduce or reintroduce the best-selling holiday menu items from all previous years. Make sure you offer treats from other cultures. Have Diwali, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and even a New Year’s Eve theme for your goods. Focus on making a variety of treats for each relevant holiday. You will not only create additional sales, but you will make someone’s day as well. Unleash your creativity during the holidays, but don’t forget the classics in your haste to be original. Espresso-based beverages such as gingerbread latte, peppermint mocha and eggnog promote a festive mood. 

5. Prepackage your baked goods
This year, it’s a must to sell prepackaged goods. It will be beneficial for customers who want to limit the time they spend around other people. Emphasizing that your baked goods are prepared with a personal touch and a little history may strike a chord with customers seeking traditional items. Nowadays, bakeries are seeing greater demand for individual servings and prepackaged items. In addition, customers really like fun novelty items like cake pops, and you can make them with Rice Krispies on sticks in different Christmas shapes dipped in chocolate and packaged individually.  

6. Promote gift cards and encourage gift-giving
The festive season is traditionally a time of higher spending. While there is a perception that gift cards are impersonal, they are some of the most requested gifts of the season and are particularly popular among those aged 18 to 34. In addition, many gift card receivers will spend more than the value of their gift card once in the store. Gift cards are the quick and easy gift that everybody loves to receive. Place a prominent gift-card display at the cash register to encourage spontaneous gifting. You can also quickly sell gift cards online. Now that your customers are in the holiday mood, make gifting easier by displaying an assortment of holiday-exclusive gift baskets in different sizes and price ranges, showing your brand’s personality. These can contain your coffee, brewing supplies, mugs, t-shirts, baked holiday goods and any other items you carry.    

7. Keep your staff happy
Are your employees in the holiday mood? The season is about happiness and merriment, so make sure your employees put their best foot forward throughout their shift. When you have adequately stocked and staffed your bakery store, your employees won’t feel overwhelmed. This will help them stay smiling so that they can better help your customers. As you know, being properly staffed is key to a great customer experience. Ensure that you have all of your staff members before your competitors scoop up the most reliable talent. Make sure that all of your seasonal employees are well trained. Don’t forget that the better informed your employees are, the better the guest experience will be. 

8. Advertise your delivery and curbside pickup
If you have an online ordering system, delivery is another great contactless option. Your customers can place their orders without leaving their homes and without spending time on the phone. If you can do curbside pickup, it’s a good idea to designate a pick-up area that requires as little contact as possible. Ensure your customers know the process for picking up their baked goods before they get to your bakery. 

9. Update your website and boost your social media presence
Your customers spend an enormous amount of time on social media, so make sure to have a strong social media presence, particularly on Facebook (now called Meta) and Instagram. Having an updated website with an efficient online ordering system will ensure your customers are able to connect with your brand directly. Don’t forget that you will also keep 100 per cent of the profits instead of getting orders via a third-party company. Finally, don’t neglect to update your Google My Business Page with accurate holiday hours.

With so much to do – planning, scheduling, bakery product development, merchandising, packaging, employee training, promotions, delivery and curbside pickup – your bakery will be very busy until the end of January 2022.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 35 years by providing innovative and revenue-increasing food service and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns. Contact her at 416-926-1338, send her an email at, or visit

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