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Deck the Halls

Deck the Halls

Tips on Dressing Up Your Bar from One of the Season’s Most Festive Spots

With the holidays upon us, operators are once again tasked with creating a warm, welcoming environment that gets guests in the mood to celebrate—and spend. As one of the first things a customer sees upon entering—and the last they see before leaving—the bar provides the ideal place to make a good impression.

Managers across the country are doing just that, with creative displays ranging from traditional to modern, elegant to out-of-this-world, and everything in between. We spoke with Chelsea Lavin, communications manager at Soho House Chicago, to get some holiday design tips from Fox Bar. The cozy, late-night spot tucked in a corner of Chicago’s Chicken & Farm Shop always goes all-out for the season, and reaps the benefits with spirited, upscale crowds every night. Take note, then go forth and be festive.

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1. Feel free to go a little crazy and others will follow.

“Every December, our public-facing drinking den, Fox Bar, gets ‘littered’ in Christmas cheer for the holiday season. We prefer an over-the-top aesthetic, as it’s our one month of the year to go crazy with decorations, and it aligns well with the humor of our small bar team. The spirit is truly infectious.”

2. Plan your work and work your plan.

“We work with a local landscaping and design business called Bottle & Branch, who completes the install per our design brief. The most impactful design feature, visually speaking, is the excessive amount of ornaments we suspend from the ceiling.”

3. Make a connection.

“The theme carries out to the menu, which offers yuletide libations with playful names, like "Joe Pesci’s Gold Tooth," made with brown butter-washed VS cognac, port, cane sugar and walnut bitters. All drinks are served in vintage holiday glassware as well.”

4. Let guests do their Christmas shopping while they drink.

“Something we started this last year, which we’ll look to bring back in December, is branded holiday merchandise, which bill well as stocking stuffers. Last year, we offered Fox Bar beanies, a winter tee shirt (depicting a Fox riding a Zamboni), shot glasses and camping mugs.”

5. Dream big

“Our pipe dream, which we’d very much like to execute this year, is to set up a toy train to traverse the perimeter of the bar. Here’s hoping for a Christmas miracle.”

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