The festive season is the busiest time of year for the hospitality industry, as customers pile through doors in a flurry of celebration to support their local small businesses in mass. The festivities of December 2022 excitedly return after Covid restrictions impacted the hospitality industry in 2020 and 2021, resulting in a drop of 40% in sales and £3bn lost to the industry in comparison to 2019.
Research suggests that customers are preparing to spend time socialising with family and friends this Christmas, with more than a quarter (27%) of businesses seeing a surge in Christmas booking in comparison to previous years.
At Dojo we have found the cities with the best value Christmas dinners across the UK, from independent chains to Michelin-starred restaurants, for every price point this Christmas - we hope you’re hungry!
The cities with the best value Christmas dinner options this festive season
We’ve scored the 15 most populated cities in the UK, using the below data:
- The average cost and rating of Christmas three-course dinners at independent restaurants based on the 20 top rated restaurants as listed on TripAdvisor.
- The overall average cost of Christmas dinners at chain restaurants based on the average prices from the most visited chain restaurants that resided within 5km of each city centre. These chains were identified by using Statista's figure for the most visited chain restaurants in the UK (based on which venues had Christmas menus available).
- The number of Michelin Star restaurants in each of these cities and their dinner price points.
Edinburgh has the best value Christmas dinner
Edinburgh is known across the globe for its abundance of festive spirit whenever December rolls around, offering a range of Christmas activities like its famous Christmas market that attracts 2.6 million people each year. Edinburgh also has a booming food scene, with 1,961 restaurants with an average TripAdvisor rating of 4.68*.
Our research found that Edinburgh is home to the best-value Christmas dinners in the UK, at an average price of £46.92 per head in independent restaurants for a three-course meal. For those in search of decadence when it comes to Christmas dinners, Edinburgh is home to 20 Michelin Star restaurants ranging from moderate, expensive and special occasion costs, such as The Broughton a moderately priced Michelin-star restaurant with a delicious Christmas menu, based in Edinburgh.
When looking at the most visited chains that are in Edinburgh, 14 of the chain restaurants have a Christmas menu with an average price of £27.10. Edinburgh has a range of restaurants waiting to be enjoyed this Christmas, of all different price ranges so you are bound to find one perfect for you!
Glasgow is the second-best city for affordable Christmas dinner options
Another Scottish city, Glasgow, takes a place in the top two. There's nowhere quite like Glasgow at Christmas time- with shimmering festive lights, a whole host of joyful events to get you into the festive spirit, and an array of options when it comes to Christmas shopping and dining out.
Glasgow is home to 1,945 restaurants with an average rating of 4.65* and an overall average Christmas dinner cost of £35.87, over £10 cheaper than the Scottish capital. Michelin Star restaurants in Glasgow offer great value, with many predominantly falling into the budget and moderate price categories. Looking at the most visited chains in Glasgow, 10 of these chains have a Christmas menu with an average price of £26.90.
London is the city with the third best value Christmas Dinners
Rounding off the top three best cities for Christmas dinners in the UK is London. Renowned for its busy and bustling atmosphere all year round it's no surprise that Christmas in London is no different! There are expected to be up to 3 million visitors to Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park alone, so as tourists travel far and wide to take part in London's festivities, their dining options will not disappoint .
London is home to a staggering 20,523 restaurants with an average three-course Christmas meal costing £59.37, the highest on our list, and a 4.78* rating which is also the highest on our list! For festive foodies looking for a cheaper alternative this Christmas, somewhere more familiar is a great option, as the research found that out of the 105 chain restaurants analysed, the average price for a 3-course Christmas dinner is £27.71.
For those ready to treat themselves to something a bit more luxurious this Christmas, there are 47 ‘expensive’ and 113 ‘special occasion’ price point Michelin star restaurants.. However, visitors can still indulge in the 13 budget and 190 moderately priced Michelin Star restaurant options too.
The cheapest places for an Independent Christmas dinner
Our research found that Coventry has the lowest costing Christmas dinners, at an average price of £30.55 for a three-course meal. With 576 restaurants in the city, you’ll have plenty of options. A good meal doesn't have to cost a fortune either; Coventry’s independent restaurants having an average rating of 4.33*!
Leicester has the second lowest priced Christmas dinner, at an average cost of £31.12 for a three-course meal, only 57p more expensive than Coventry which took the top spot. Leicester has 1,073 independent restaurants in the city, with an impressive average rating of 4.45*.
Sunderland rounds off the top three cities with the cheapest Christmas dinners at independent restaurants, with an average price of £32.47 for a three-course meal and 354 restaurants to choose from in the city, with an average rating of 4.3*.
The places with the cheapest Michelin Star options
If you’re looking to treat loved ones to a luxury experience this Christmas, but are aiming to keep costs low, we have revealed the places with Michelin Star restaurants offering the lowest-priced Christmas dinners.
London came out on top, with 13 Michelin Star restaurants falling into the budget-priced category, leaving you with lots of options for where is best suited for your celebrations. Restaurants such as London-based Krickets fall into the budget category and are offering some great festive additions to their regular a la carte menu.
Manchester followed in second place with 5 budget-priced Michelin Star restaurants such as El Gato Negro serving tapas dishes and a special Christmas menu! Bristol followed in third with four Michelin Star restaurants falling into the budget category, including Root, a great vegetarian option for parties.
Perfect for those looking for the middle ground, London is home to 190 Michelin-starred restaurants that fall within the moderately priced category. Bristol and Edinburgh followed behind as joint second place, both having 9 Michelin-star restaurants within the moderate-priced category.
How to entice customers with Christmas offers during the festive season
Wondering what you can do now to prepare for the festive season, and how you can make sure it is your door that customers are walking through? We at Dojo have created some tips on how small businesses can entice customers this Christmas!
- Create Christmas offers
Create a Christmas offer to show customers that your establishment is festivities-friendly! For example, a special and reasonably-priced seasonal Christmas menu could give you the edge over competitors when it comes to booking Christmas meals. Offering onsite events or the ability for customers to book an area can also make Christmas party planning much easier for people with larger families or looking to book a work-do. You should also consider creating special offers or limited-time discounts on popular items - this is a great way to get customers through the door too.
- Use social media to raise awareness
If you are putting all of this effort into making Christmas special for your customers, ensure that you are posting this information to your website and amplifying your messaging with social media posts to avoid people missing out! Christmas can be a really busy time so make sure you schedule your social posts where possible and use content you’re already putting on your site to create these social posts. This way you’re getting the most return out of any content you are taking time out to create
- Get decorating
Small touches like reusable bunting, Christmas decorations and carefully placed Christmas tree cut-offs can really make a difference to the ambiance of your venue. Plus you don’t need to spend excessive amounts; TikTok has some great DIY hacks for creating paper decorations you can recycle afterwards - check out the ‘#diychristmasdecor’ hashtag. Staff and customers may even feel in an uplifted mood by the restaurant's festive new look and it’s a simple way to show customers how much you care about their experience with you. Be sure to show off the process on social media to keep your customers engaged throughout the festive season.
- Welcome Christmas parties and work events
To increase the number of Christmas parties and work events booked with your business, try offering discounts to large parties. You can also contact local businesses offering them limited-time only deals or deals on beverages to sweeten the deal.
- Keep your momentum
Don’t forget to use social media to readily engage with your customers. We’ve mentioned creating seasonal-specific content - try not to post everything at once. Plan out your content so you keep momentum up and attention on your business. You can do this by posting behind-the-scenes content in the run-up to Christmas and changing promotions your offering so each week of Christmas has something new to offer. You could even try running an enticing Christmas competition to get people sharing and talking about your business.
How to get your small business restaurant ready for the festive season
1. Think about staff first
Ensuring everything is prepared in advance will lead to a less stressful festive period! Ask staff for final Christmas holiday working hours and finalise your Christmas rotas ahead of time. Also, if you need additional Christmas hires to help with the increasing number of visitors, do this with enough time for them to be fully trained and up to scratch, for example ensuring staff are using card machines correctly will help queues flow faster.
2. Keep your website and social media up to date
Make sure your website and social media are fully up to date with the days that you will be open over the festive season. Update your social media and website using imagery to reflect the festive season, to make customers aware that your restaurant is a great place for their celebrations!
3. Stock up
Ensure that you have sufficient stock to meet the increased customer demand during the festive period. Stock up on inventory, especially items you know are popular with your customers to avoid disappointment. Additionally, you should make sure that you are catering to all dietary requirements where possible.
4. undersell your Christmas offering
There’s a huge amount of work you’ll need to put in, decorations to be bought and staff overtime that needs paying. The menu will also probably be bespoke for Christmas too, so, why shouldn’t you charge a little extra once a year for this premium service?
‘Tis the season for a great festive dinner: Small business case study
We spoke to the owners of the independent restaurant Galu, based in Banstead, who shared what they have done to prepare their restaurant for Christmas this year:
“We have prepared for Christmas in a variety of different ways. We have created both Christmas party and Christmas Day menus and arranged florists for decoration. To ensure things run smoothly, we have confirmed availability with all staff and sourced produce for the festive season in advance, while organising pre-orders and deposits.
We have updated our booking system and promoted our Christmas menus on our website, as well as updated opening hours for the festive period. However, we know that there is still more to be done using social media.
Over our 13 years in business at Galu, we have become renowned for good food and a party atmosphere. We often post images to our social media of guests having a good time, then users can see that we would make an ideal venue for their Christmas parties and get-togethers.”
Choosing the right card machine for your business
At Dojo, we understand that not all businesses are the same and have different needs. However, all businesses do need to make sure they can take payments, so it’s important that small business owners take the time to understand which type of card machine they need. We help businesses across the UK with card payments, making it easier to process takings securely.
Independents: To determine the best cities for Christmas dinner options available analysts looked into the average price of Christmas 3-course dinners at independent restaurants in each city based on the top rated 20 on TripAdvisor.
Chains: A Statista report was used to determine the most visited chain restaurants in the UK and which had Christmas menus available. The average price of Christmas dinners at chain restaurants in each city was determined by reviewing how how many of the chains from Statista's report were within 5km of each of the cities and the prices of their 3-course Christmas dinners.
Michelin-starred: The number of Michelin Star restaurants in each of these cities and their price points (budget, moderate, expensive and special occasion) were also noted.
A weighting of 10 was split equally amongst all metrics resulting in each metric having a weighting of 1.67. Michelin Star-related metrics were given a lower weighting due to their application to a niche audience