With the Christmas season fast approaching, bakeries of all sizes across the country are preparing for the busiest time of the year to satisfy the 23% of consumers seeking out festive flavours1, so it’s important to prepare your bakery for the festivities. Read on to discover tips from British Bakels to boost your bakery this Christmas.

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1. Last year upgraded

Take stock of your inventory sales from last year during the festive season. Think about how much you sold – and when – and use it to predict what you will need to order ahead of time, including ingredients or getting extra help with staffing. With various economic challenges facing consumers and, equally, businesses, festive treats this Christmas will prove to be an even more popular gift and moment of excitement for your customers seeking comfort this year.

The value of a gift from your bakery may be greater than ever, as consumers look to prioritise their Christmas lists in the face of challenging times for households. Providing a freshly baked and delicious-looking product is sure to lift their spirits. And don’t forget to offer bakery alternatives to cater for your customers’ needs, including dairy-free, gluten-free and plant-based options. A selection of sourdough breads is also a way to boost sales as people look for quality produce to offer to their guests, as it continues to grow in popularity.

Your shoppers may well include people who work in local businesses and schools, so why not provide leaflets about your offering that they can share? You could even offer some freshly made samples in a cakebox with your name on it. Put the details of your Christmas range on your website and announce them on social media. These days a presence on Facebook, Instagram and the increasingly popular TikTok can really help support sales if you target your content correctly.

Get your team involved too! Encourage them to give you their ideas on promoting the business across all channels – this is a great way to get your team engaged with the business at Christmas and, who knows, they might be keen to do more in the New Year and beyond.

2. Keep the classic festive treats but don’t be afraid to get creative

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Sweet mince pies, fruity Christmas pudding, spicy gingerbread men, and decadent yule logs are all staples of the Christmas dessert table, with traditional flavours like nuts, chocolate, warm spices and red fruits remaining a popular choice.

But don’t let it stop you from adding creative festive twists to your products. Research from Innova suggests that over half of consumers want to be more adventurous in future choices2 and evidence suggests that some traditional sweet flavours, like marzipan and nougat, are falling out of favour, making way for sweet flavours such as caramel. During this time of year, consumers are interested in new creations to share with family and friends. They are increasingly seeking out amplified experiences, including new favourites like mixed spice. Following Covid and the financial difficulties of this past year, each bite of a new festive treat will provide sparks of happiness and joy this festive season.

3. Top flavours to experiment with this festive season

To help with building creative products, remember that pumpkin spice, caramel, chai spice mix and nuts are all the top flavours and ingredients to work with this Christmas. With winter days arriving, consumers are turning to warmer, comforting foods to help them brave the weather. Including these in your range this season will be a festive hit.

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● Caramel: ‘Brown’ flavours are booming, and their growth in popularity shows no signs of slowing down. Positioned at No.3 in the list of seasonal and limited-edition flavours for Q1 (2022) and No.7 in the rankings of leading flavours3, specifically at Christmas, caramel chimes deliciously with the trend for nostalgia and indulgence and is a powerful magnet for consumers.

Its versatile nature and mass appeal lends itself perfectly to a whole host of festive bakery applications, small and large. Caramel is something of an old favourite in the flavour world, but like the other flavours you can reinvent it this Christmas with improved provenance, or by combining its reassuring flavour with a twist on the familiar – for example, offering salted or chocolate caramel versions of popular festive bakery lines.

● Pumpkin spice: Originally used to create pumpkin-flavoured cakes and pies, pumpkin spice has become a popular ingredient during the festive season, used in lattes, beers and pancakes. This spice mix contains cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Some blends don’t use all the spices, but will contain at least one or two. While the flavour has been popularised in hot drinks, there’s nothing stopping your bakery from incorporating it into your festive selection.

● Chai spice mix: For those long winter nights, using chai spice mix in your bakes will provide a comforting respite for your customers. Although ‘chai’ means tea in Hindi, the chai spice mix used in warm food and drinks is actually composed of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and black peppercorns.

Traditionally brewed with milk and sweetened with sugar or honey, this chai spice blend is now used in bread, cakes, chocolate bars, and cupcakes. It’s ideal for customers needing comforting nibbles on a chilly festive day. Chai-spiced baked goods have the same reassuring effects as a cup of the popular chai latte. So by offering a chai spice cake, you’re also capitalising on this trendy barista flavour and appealing to younger consumers too, extending their ‘coffee shop’ experience. Speaking of which, as Christmas approaches, it’s worth taking a peek at your local high street coffee shops, seeing what they’re doing and thinking about how you can do it better…

● Go nuts!: According to Innova, hazelnut and almond occupied two of the top three positions as leading flavours at Christmas time4. Use them to top sweet treats like cupcakes and tray bakes and in fillings for savoury go-tos. Incorporating nuts into your bakery products adds flavour, texture and visual appeal.

Hazelnuts are the most labour-intensive nut to prepare, but they do provide a delicious addition to desserts. Their lower oil content, in comparison to other nuts, also means you can toast them before baking.

Almonds are incredibly versatile and can be used in a whole host of ways, including as a gluten-free flour substitute. Removing the skins gives them a milder taste and lighter colour.

Bright green in colour, pistachios have a cherry-like flavour that isn’t too sweet, and pairs well with fruit or other sweet ingredients. They are great when ground up and used as a fruit tart crust, or even mix them with honey for a pastry filling.

Walnuts have a mild, buttery flavour, making them ideal for baking into cookies and cakes, whilst providing a delicious crunch. Due to their high oil content, they toast much faster than other varieties and, for this reason, it is best to use raw walnuts. For an extra strong flavour, try throwing in chopped black walnuts, as they give a more savoury flavour which cuts through sweet ingredients like caramel or white chocolate.


4. Add festive decorations to uphold the Christmas cheer

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Decorating your bakery will bring on the Christmas spirit. Using themed window stickers, festive lights, decorations and music in-store will entice passers-by to enter your bakery and become immersed in the festive joy. As Christmas gets near, why not get your staff to dress up, as well? Making your bakery feel cosy and welcoming will provide your customers with that much-needed break from the rush of shopping, and help them calm down if they’re feeling stressed. It can also result in some extra sales, especially as most sweet bakery treats are bought on impulse.

The way your bakery looks will be key in encouraging Christmas shoppers to come in and buy. And if you have space, cut up a few goodies and allow people to sample them.

5. Be inclusive

While there are various cultures and individuals that don’t celebrate Christmas, most people take a break and get together with friends and family over the holiday period. So use the opportunity to attract customers from a variety of different backgrounds.

Bakery products are at the heart of these occasions and have an irresistible uplifting effect. Offer a diverse range of upbeat products to cater to everyone’s desires, and your bakery will make a much more personalised, and inclusive, impression. And they’ll remember, and come back for more.

Staying with inclusivity, not everyone has a good time at Christmas. As Christmas Eve approaches, why not reach out and spread some joy among your local community with gifts of goodies? Hospitals will have their own catering arrangements, but if one of your team has been an in-patient, or someone close to them is in there, why not give them some goodies to take to the ward, if they’re allowed to? Giving unsold Christmas products to people who will otherwise miss out is a good way to put to use what could otherwise go to waste. Do your homework and find out beforehand what local foodbanks, care homes, night shelters etc are looking for, and then drop round whatever’s left unsold after you close on Christmas Eve. And if that works for you, think about doing the same at New Year’s Eve, and the rest of the year too.

6. Spread your festivities on social media

While Christmas is a time for family and friends, it’s also a time to see how other people are celebrating the holidays. Be present on Facebook, Instagram and the increasingly popular TikTok. Show the world how your bakery is celebrating the festive season by highlighting creative bakes, fun decor and more. Using email is also a great, personalised way to let your customers know what is going on this season, whether it be festive offers, personalised gifting options or simply an opportunity to showcase your range of bakery products.

With video driving huge amounts of engagement on social media, some novel step-by-steps or ‘behind the scene’ clips shared on your social channels will engage customers spending more time indoors during the wintery period and thus be more likely to be responsive to your communications.

For further tips or products from Bakels to help create festive cheer this Christmas, speak to Michael, contact t: 01869356400 or email bakels@bakels.com. More details can be found at www.britishbakels.co.uk.

You can also download a recipe pack as well as social media templates and POS to help your business make the most of the festive season.

1, 2 & 4: Innova – Flavour Insider: Seasonal & Limited Editions Flavours 2022

3: Innova – Emerging Flavours in Sweet Packaged Foods 2022