Subtle? Glamorous? How to do Christmas lighting in pubs

By Liam Coleman

- Last updated on GMT

Grahame Nutt at the Jacobs Well opts for decorations that are never "over-lit"
Grahame Nutt at the Jacobs Well opts for decorations that are never "over-lit"

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Christmas decorations are a must in pubs, but the finished look can vary enormously. While that is the case with the two licensees interviewed here, what they do have in common is a huge boost in festive trade as a result.

Grahame Nutt from the Jacobs Well, Honley, Huddersfield

People will come into the pub and say they have passed us so many times and had to come in because of the lights. We go for strictly traditional decorations that are not over-lit.

They take about eight hours to put up with 10 people, so it’s an all-day job, but it’s done in one day. We don’t open all day during winter, so the interior is decorated from 6am-11am, they then do the outside. Come 3pm when we close, they can do any little bits that they’ve not quite finished inside.

We use a professional company called KD Decoratives to put them up because we believe that the investment in it pays back many times. They take all the decorations away, service them and they come back every year virtually brand new and we add to them a little bit every year. It keeps it on a professional basis where the image of the pub is carried on outside as well as in.

It costs us between £1,200 and £1,600 every year to do these decorations and it pays us back all year round. We have people coming in at the start of the summer just as the light is fading and they’re already talking about the lights.

In December when it’s foggy, we turn the outside lights on when we get up in the morning. We will turn them up if it brightens up, but when people are going to work in the morning, it adds a bit of sparkle to the local area. We have a joke that when we switch them on every year, we get an annual call from the Space Station.

Anyone not doing Christmas decorations is really missing a trick. It’s the one time of year when people are willing to spend their money, but they won’t come in if the outside looks tacky. If you’re not sure about your decorations, get a professional in.

Hanging gate best pic
The Hanging Gate had 35,000 indoor lights in 2016

Mark Thomas from the Hanging Gate, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire

We have seven or eight different areas, so we have that many different themes.

We will start off with a new theme in one room and then move it into a bigger room if it works and buy more for it; our new room this year is going to have a woodland theme. One theme will then be discontinued for a while or for good and we try to do a new theme every year and put it in. It tends to cost close to £1,500 every year.

The two upstairs rooms don’t get used as much, so we get Christmas ready up there early. On the rest of the rooms, we start on 1 November and it is not until 18-20 November that we’re finished because we shut a room down at a time for a couple of days. If Halloween and Christmas were just another month apart, it would be perfect because the Christmas decorations can be left up until early January, but the Halloween decorations have to be taken down the day after because we have got to get straight on with Christmas.

We were working out the wiring. We have miles and miles of it and we estimate there’s 35,000 indoor lights, and 7,000 baubles, so there must be about five miles of wiring because there’s that much of the stuff, so it’s quite something to tackle.

Once we’ve taken them down, we’re already thinking about the next year because the revenue from it is unbelievable and pays for three potentially quiet months.

It doesn’t take an Einstein to work out that if you dress the pub, the customers will come.

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