While Christmas might still hold the top spot as the nation’s favourite, most lucrative holiday, Halloween has been steadily growing in popularity over the years — and for good reason! When the darker nights start closing in during autumn, the glow of a cosy pub or restaurant is more inviting than ever. So, why not delight your customers even more with some seasonal decorations?
You don’t have to spend a fortune or buy a host of plastic decorations to get your establishment involved in the Halloween fun. Instead, getting creative and investing in a few staple pieces can actually save you money while still making your venue look the part. Below, the catering experts at Alliance Online have shared some affordable, sustainable ways the hospitality industry can get involved with the festivities this October.
Another way to get your venue involved in Halloween is to let the season inspire your menu. This way, you may not even need many decorations, as your delicious food can create a cosy autumnal vibe all on its own. Using local, seasonal produce is also a more sustainable way to use food as it reduces the number of ingredients imported from abroad. Plus, seasonal produce often tastes better, because it is fresher and has been harvested at the optimum time for the best flavour. Seasonal fruit and vegetables include butternut squash, parsnips, apples, and pears, so using these to create warm, hearty dishes is a great way to give your restaurant that autumnal feeling.
Halloween is also a great opportunity to showcase some local delicacies, like Cheshire cheese or a locally farmed chutney. To create a seasonal autumnal salad with a local twist, try pairing roasted pumpkin or squash with a sharp, salty local cheese, like Burt’s Blue or John Bourne’s Blue Cheshire. The sharp taste of the cheese pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the squash.
Ditch the plastic
The first step in making your Halloween décor more sustainable is to avoid single-use plastic. Often, Halloween creates a lot of plastic waste because of the number of single-use decorations, lights, or costumes. So, to ensure that your bar or restaurant takes a greener approach, you can get a bit creative and opt for more eco-friendly materials.
For example, if you run a café or pub, you might have chalkboards or whiteboards that display your specials, hot drinks, or cocktail menu. A very affordable way to get involved is simply buying a fresh pack of coloured chalks or markers and enlisting the help of your most artistic staff member. They can then draw a border of cobwebs, spiders, or bats around your menu, or dedicate a whole sandwich board to a Halloween greeting with their best illustration of a pumpkin, bubbling cauldron, or black cat. You could simply write ‘Happy Halloween’ or pick your favourite fun slogan such as ‘Eat, Drink, and Be Scary’.
Hanging posters or wooden signs with spooky designs can also be a great way to bring some colour and a festive atmosphere to your establishment quickly, easily, and affordably. These pieces of décor can also add a rustic feel that compliments the autumnal theme, and you can lean into this even more by repurposing things like delivery palettes to display pumpkins and other decorations. As well as getting creative with what you already have, if you invest in versatile decorations made of good quality material, you can store them away to use for next year (and the year after that).
Repurpose your pumpkins
A Halloween theme wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory pumpkin, and as it’s technically a fruit, this is about as sustainable as decorations can get! Get your whole team in on the fun and have a pumpkin carving session before or after you close for the day, as this can be a great way to get everyone in the mood for the spooky season. Display your pumpkins at the entrance to your establishment, at the bar, or on any other surface that won’t get in the way of your day-to-day service. You could even add a name tag under each pumpkin and allow customers to vote for their favourite one via labelled tip jars, organising a prize for the winner!
While they might be a Halloween staple, simply using pumpkins to carve and display can also result in a lot of food waste. One way you can combat this at your establishment is to squeeze as much use as you can out of each pumpkin, and ensure that you dispose of them properly. Firstly, don’t just throw away all the flesh you scoop out when gutting and carving your pumpkin: you can make a puree by simply removing the seeds and blending the flesh in a food processor. This can be used in everything from pumpkin pie to bread and hummus, or even Halloween cocktails. Don’t forget about the seeds, either: you can turn them into a healthy, high-protein snack by simply rinsing, seasoning, and roasting them in the oven until golden brown.
As for your carved pumpkins on display, once they’ve started to dry out and wilt, don’t just throw them in the bin. You can chop it up and leave them out for local wildlife like birds and squirrels to nibble on, compost them, or even bury them to enrich the soil in your back garden.
Create a seasonal menu
Another way to get your venue involved in Halloween is to let the season inspire your menu. This way, you may not even need many decorations, as your delicious food can create a cosy autumnal vibe all on its own. Using local, seasonal produce is also a more sustainable way to use food as it reduces the number of ingredients imported from abroad. Seasonal fruit and vegetables include butternut squash, parsnips, apples, and pears, so using these to create warm, hearty dishes is a great way to give your restaurant that autumnal feeling.
Sometimes, though, the little details are enough to put a smile on your customers’ faces. If you don’t have the time and resources to introduce brand new dishes or drinks to your menu just for Halloween, you can always add some spooky touches to the ones you already have. For example, if you run a café, bakery, or restaurant you may want to teach your baristas a simple piece of latte art and add this to coffees throughout October. Or, they could use stencils to create designs with chocolate or coffee sprinkles. Whether it’s a cute ghost or a witch’s hat, customers are sure to love these and may even post photos of their drinks to social media, which can be great exposure for your business.
“Decorating your bar, café, or restaurant to match the seasons is a great way to create a fun, welcoming environment for your customers. Making a few simple switches — such as avoiding unnecessary plastic and using your pumpkins wisely — can help you get involved with Halloween both more affordably and more sustainably.
“As well as fun touches like rustic, spooky décor and a seasonal menu, you may also want to introduce some deals or discounts during October. This can be a good incentive for people to brave the colder autumn evenings and still visit your establishment all year round.”