Your thoughts on Christmas 2021

Your thoughts on Christmas 2021

Christmas diners

Your Christmas do expectations for this year

It's difficult for hospitality operators to make predictions on what Xmas 2021 is going to be like. There can be no comparison to last year, when Christmas season was effectively cancelled due to the pandemic, but will it be quite like 2019 season.

We've approached you, our panel of Mystery Diners with our latest survey, to hear about your expectations and behaviours for Christmas 2021, in order to help operators prepare as best they can. We've shared the results below with our clients but we thought you'd be interested to hear what you and your fellow guests had to say too.

Work Do's

Less than a quarter (21%) of you report that your workplace is planning a Xmas party this year (however, it is a 17% increase from 2020). Shockingly, more of you say you’re not having a work Christmas party than last year (24% vs. 20% in 2020), whilst the majority (55%) are yet unsure whether their workplaces are organising anything this year.

This could indicate that offices and workplaces are adopting the ‘wait and see’ approach and are intending to book something relatively last-minute, which could mean a surge of Christmas bookings is on its way.


Feeling safer?

Our survey confirms what we can feel instinctively, that people feel much more confident in taking part in Xmas parties in 2021 than they did last year.

9 out 10 (89%) feel safe enough to take part in a (work or personal) Christmas party; that figure was only 72% in September 2020. Within the group of you who are ready to party, there are varying levels of confidence.

Almost half (49%) are happy to go to any venue, as long as safety measures are in place and the prevalence of that sentiment hasn't changed much in a year (47% in 2020).

Over a quarter (28%) are not worried about Covid safety at all, (an increase of 11% from last year), and a small number of you (12%) don't mind taking part, as long as you know the venue well (a 4% increase from last year).

Sadly, 11% of you still don't feel safe enough to take part in any social gatherings, though that figure, unsurprisingly was much higher last year, when more than a quarter (28%) expressed they wouldn't feel comfortable going to a Xmas party.

The most fearless age group is Gen-Z (18-25) as 2 out of 3 (63%) don't feel worried at all about taking part in social gatherings. That confidence decreases with age in a linear trend to only 8% of those aged over 56 who 'don't feel worried at all'.

Over half (54%) of our mystery guests, aged between 36-65 take a sensible approach and report that they’re ‘happy to take part in social events as long as safety measures are in place.' The largest percentage of people who don’t feel safe enough to take part in social events (21%) is within the 56-65 age group, and second largest (13%), surprisingly, is within the 36-45 age group.

As with our previous surveys, the results show that men are less cautious than women, as respectively 30% vs. 27% are ‘not worried at all’; 45% vs 51% would want to know ‘safety measures were in place’, and finally 10% vs. 12% would not feel safe taking part in a Xmas party this year.


Group sizes

Last year Christmas parties were limited to 6 people, whereas this year there are no restrictions, however almost a fifth of you (18%) still prefer to go out in groups of up to 10 people.

A quarter (26%) of our panel are feeling more confident and will be going out in groups of up to 20 people. 17% of you are happy to take part in groups of up to 30 people, and it’s great to see that for 39% customers, there is no upper limit to group sizes, in regards to feeling safe.

Gen-Z (18-25) and Millennials (26-35) want big parties, data seems to suggest, as respectively 47% and 60% say there’s no upper limit to a party size, from a safety perspective. Conversely, people aged over 56 are more likely to keep group sizes down to no more than 20 people.

Women, again, are more safety-aware, and a fifth (21%) would like to limit their Xmas party for up to 10 people, whereas that figure is only 11% in men. 43% of men have no upper limit on group numbers, whereas that figure is 38% with women.


Christmas Do's with family

The number of people who always celebrate Christmas at home hasn’t changed since last year and is still at 86%; however the number of people who dine out at Xmas has increased by 3% in contrast to last year (9% vs 6%). A small percentage of you (5%) who normally would dine out are opting to stay home this year due to safety concerns.

The age group most likely to enjoy their Xmas meal out are the 36–45-year-olds, whereas the least likely are customers aged 56-65.

Men appear to dine out (13%) more than women (8%), according to the survey results.


Choosing a Christmas party venue

Key findings for our clients and the hospitality industry as a whole are what makes guests choose one venue over another for their Xmas party, and what the key considerations are. Here's what you had to say:

1. Meal quality

Weighted ranking of 4.25 out of 5. Half (50%) of you said meal quality was the most important factor in making your decision. In 2020, 'meal quality' was ranked second, right after…

2. Safety

Safety being the second most important factor in decision making, goes to show that the pandemic is still very much an issue for British consumers. This factor got a ranking of 3.32 out of 5 and was chosen as the most important factor by a third of you. As mentioned above, unsurprisingly, in 2020, feeling safe was guests’ top factor in choosing a venue.

3. Location, location, location

Ranking of 3.03 out of 5, so just slightly less important than ‘safety’; it was considered top priority by 8.6% of customers. Interestingly, last year, ‘location’ was the least important factor in decision making, perhaps because people were determined to stay close to home.

4. New and exciting place

With a ranking of 2.25, and having been selected as the primary factor by 4.8%, ‘new and exciting’ isn’t really a priority for the majority of consumers this year. In 2020, ‘new and exciting’ was ahead of ‘entertainment’ as well, as it is this year.

5. Entertainment factor

It appears entertainment for a Xmas party is a ‘nice to have’ but certainly not a key factor in decision making for you this year, with a ranking of 2.15 out of 5, and only 3.4% selected 'entertainment' as their most important factor.


Service expectations

Four out of five (82%) expect table service at your Christmas party, therefore venues with Order & Pay apps may want to consider their service strategy for Christmas parties and to manage your expectations.

In one of our previous surveys (read here), shortly after hospitality was allowed to reopen, customers made it clear that they felt there were no excuses for substandard service – they certainly will not be more forgiving during Christmas season.

That said, almost a fifth (18%) of customers don’t actually expect customer service, so it may be useful for operators to find out their clientele’s preferences, and, where possible, to provide an option.

In terms of age, unsurprisingly, Gen-Z are least bothered about needing table service (63%) in contrast to other age groups, while 46-55 age group were most adamant (89%) to have table service, however opinions didn't differ from a gender perspective.



To avoid hassle during the Christmas party, a vast majority (67%) would like the option to pre-order food / drinks. Out of those 33% who don’t want to pre-order, 21% would like to order from waiting staff, whilst 12% would prefer to order through an app.

Only 53% Gen-Z respondents want to pre-order, whereas that figure increases steadily with age, peaking at 72% wanting pre-orders within the 46-55 age group. The highest uptake for ordering through an app is for the 26-35 age group (15%), and shockingly, the lowest for Gen-Z (5%). Apart from Gen-Z bucking the trend, app adoption gradually seems to decline with age at 14% for 36-45; 13% for 46-55, etc.

From a gender perspective, women are 5% more likely to want to pre-order, and a larger percentage of men (16%) opt for an app than women (10%).

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