by David Klemt

Program for Unique Holidays: May 2023

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

Do you want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Change how you think about your May holiday promotions.

Several holidays are set against every date on the calendar, and May is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to esoteric.

Pay attention to the “weird” or unique holidays to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing? Why program only around the same holidays as everyone else?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, strange or otherwise. Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

You’ll find suggestions for promotions below. However, the idea behind our monthly holiday promotions roundup is to inspire you and your team to get creative and come up with unique programming ideas.

For our April 2023 holidays list, click here.

May 5: National Silence The Shame Day

Much progress has been made when it comes to reducing the stigma around mental health issues. However, there’s still much more work to do.

The focus of this holiday is just that: removing that stigma. You can use this holiday to encourage the conversation, raise awareness for issues close to you and your team, or to raise funds for a charitable mental health organization.

May 6: World Naked Gardening Day

Okay, so, unless you own a very niche restaurant, bar, or resort, please don’t celebrate this holiday naked while at work. Instead, celebrate the spirit of this holiday: reconnecting with and honoring nature.

One easy way to do this is to feature cocktails made and garnished with fresh ingredients: rosemary, citrus, juices, etc. And again, you can raise money for any number of conservation organizations dedicated to safeguarding natural resources.

May 8: National Have a Coke Day

Rum and Coke. Bourbon and Coke. Jack and Coke. Whiskey and Coke. If you’re a Coke restaurant or bar, you know what to do on this holiday. If you’re not, well… I guess you can program against it and launch National Don’t Have a Coke Day.

May 10: National Third Shift Workers Day

Depending on your hours of operation, this is an easy holiday to program around. To offer up just a few ideas: healthy meal options; restorative beverages; third-shift-specific LTOs.

May 16: National Do Something Good For Your Neighbor Day

Restaurants, bars, and hotels are the heart and soul of communities around the world. Use this day to give back to those who support you.

May 17: National Pack Rat Day

I’m sure if we all look around our homes we’ll see that maybe we have too much stuff. This is another excellent holiday to give back to our communities.

One way to do this is to host a clothing, canned food, or other resource drive. Donations can be rewarded with LTO items to encourage participation.

May 20: National be a Millionaire Day

Well, you probably can’t turn your guests into millionaires. However, you can certainly help your guests drink like one. While you can shine a spotlight on your super- and ultra-premium spirits, there’s another way: the Millionaire cocktail.

  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 0.75 oz. Grand Marnier
  • 0.25 oz. Absinthe or pastis
  • 0.5 oz. Grenadine
  • 0.5 oz. Egg white
  • 0.5 oz. Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to garnish

Prepare a coupe by adding ice to chill it. Dry shake all the ingredients, minus the nutmeg. Add ice and shake again until well chilled, then double-strain the prepared coupe. Garnish by grating nutmeg over the top of the glass.

Want to kick things up a notch? Offer the Billionaire cocktail:

  • 2 oz. Baker’s 107-proof bourbon
  • 1 oz. Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 0.5 oz. Grenadine
  • 0.5 oz. Simple syrup
  • 0.25 oz. Absinthe bitters
  • Lemon wheel to garnish

Prepare a cocktail glass by adding ice to chill it. Add all ingredients except lemon wheel to a shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled, then strain into the cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

May 25: Sing Out Day

I mean, if there was ever a day to promote karaoke, this is the one. Even better if you can design a competition around it to maximize engagement.

May 26: World Lindy Hop Day

Alright, I’m going to do it—I’m going to suggest you leverage TikTok and Instagram. The Lindy Hop is a dance, I can tell you right now that there’s at least a fair chance that people will be featuring this dance (or variations of it) on social media. So, time for you, your team, and guests who want to participate to learn the Lindy Hop.

May 30: National Mint Julep Day

There are a few easy ways to celebrate National Mint Julep Day. The first, of course, is to perfect your venue’s Mint Julep. The second? Offer a variety of Mint Julep riffs: chocolate, peach, tequila, mezcal, sage, basil… Come up with three or four and your LTO is all set.

A third way is to feature this year’s Kentucky Derby $1,000 Mint Julep Experience recipe, Secretariat’s Mint Julep:

Pack a Julep cup with crushed ice, making sure to make a dome over the lip of the cup. Add the whiskey and liqueur to a mixing glass and stir. Pour over the prepared cup. Garnish with one sprig of mint and one stalk of Virginia bluebells. ($1,000 price tag optional.)

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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