halloween jack o lantern pumpkin and candles

Christmas decorations might already be on the shelves, but don’t forget that it’s actually Halloween that’s right around the corner. As one of the most photo-ready holidays, Halloween gives everyone the opportunity to tap into their creative side and embrace all things spooky. That means that there’s an opportunity for your restaurant, too. With families out trick-or-treating, or adults hosting house parties, you might be asking yourself how you can drive them into your restaurant to celebrate with you and your team. The answer is simple: Consider Instagram your unofficial invitation.

The Power of Instagram

Over the past couple years, we’ve watched the #FoodPorn revolution flourish on Instagram. Over 172 million photos have been tagged with the #foodporn hashtag, centralizing all of the Internet’s most outrageously crafted food and drinks to one place. This wildly popular hashtag is a great fit for showcasing your most creative masterpieces leading up to Halloween.

Manny Navar, CFO at Top Nosh Hospitality in Chicago, understands that the power of social media depends on presentation. “I offer food and drink specials, except they have a Halloween twist,” he says. “Presentation is a key component in driving interest through social media.”

For Halloween, you’ll want to keep a strong focus on your Instagram profile and what you’re presenting to your fans. The most shareable photos are well lit, full of color, and high quality. If you need some help crafting the perfect shot, we have you covered.

couple with phone at table

Must-Follow Halloween Instagram Hashtags

#Foodporn isn’t the only hashtag to use. Need a few ideas for Halloween decor or a spooky food or drink special? We found a few Instagram hashtags that will provide some inspiration for a hair-raising holiday in your restaurant:

  • #halloween
  • #halloween2018
  • #halloweenfood
  • #halloweenbar
  • #halloweencocktails
  • #halloweendecor
  • #halloweenparty
  • #trickortreat

Don’t forget to tag your own Halloween Instagram posts with these hashtags to get more eyes on all of your spooktacular pictures! If you have something worth sharing, using these hashtags is a great way to increase brand awareness.

“Presentation is a key component in driving interest through social media.”

Instagram Restaurant Promotion Ideas for Halloween

Have a Costume Contest

Go back to basics and focus on what everyone loves about Halloween: dressing up! Tell your guests to upload their pictures to Instagram, tag your bar or restaurant, and use a specific hashtag, and announce the winner the day after your event. Make sure your employees join in on the fun and dress up, too!

Throw a Party

Navar worked in the nightlife industry before crossing over to the restaurant industry, and has some great insight on how to draw a big crowd of big spenders on Oct. 31. “I would host bar crawls, create ticketed food and beverage package events with DJs, hire promoters to help fill the room and offer unique bottle service packages to attract the spenders and groups looking to party,” he says.

Promote the night on Instagram using the #halloweenparty hashtag and be sure to tag your city to draw in locals. Let followers know about any drink and food specials, or integrate a contest into your promotion to boost awareness.

Jack O Lanterns Halloween Pumpkin Face On Wooden Background.

If you’re planning to go big, Navar has a couple tips for ensuring success: “The two main factors were that I made sure to stack up events back-to-back-to-back from open to close, and I made sure the staff was scheduled correctly. There’s nothing worse than being short-staffed on a busy day.”

Pro-tip: Give the people what they want. Whether you think pumpkin spice is as stale as a day-old pumpkin muffin, or you start your day with a #PSL on brisk autumn mornings, data shows that pumpkin spice isn’t going anywhere.

Hold an Instagram Contest

Instagram contests are growing in popularity, with a lot of small businesses taking advantage of the platform to increase engagement on their pages and gain visibility with consumers. Check out this great guide for Instagram contest ideas and learn why they should be a staple in your social strategy.

As one of the most photo-ready holidays, Halloween gives everyone the opportunity to tap into their creative side and embrace all things spooky.

Advertise Family-Friendly Dinner Promos

If you’re not in the mood to throw a giant bash, no fear. Between perfecting costumes and trick-or-treating, the last thing on parents’ minds will be making dinner for the family. If you live in an area with a lot of kids, you could easily get the attention of parents by offering a “kids eat free” or free dessert promotion for the night of Halloween.

Halloween-Themed Restaurant Decor Ideas

If you want to give your business a temporary makeover, there is no shortage of decorations to transform your restaurant into a Halloween destination this October.

This “Pick Your Poison” sign available for instant download on Etsy is a quick and easy way to bring Halloween behind the bar:

Pick Your Poison Skull Print
Pick Your Poison Art Print by littlegoldpixel on Etsy

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid of the dark! Dim the lights on Halloween night to set an eerie mood throughout your bar or restaurant.

Letterboard signs are becoming increasingly popular in restaurant decor. If it fits your aesthetic, pick up one from Target or Amazon and DIY your sign:


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If you want to step up your game this year, check out these bars all over the world that that elevated their decor in honor of the ominous holiday.


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Festive Cocktail Ideas for Halloween

We searched through the #halloweencocktails hashtag to find some bone-chilling cocktail inspiration for the upcoming holiday. Whether you incorporate polarizing candy corn or spooky dry ice into your cocktail menu, there will sure to be something to spark the interest of your Instagram followers.

Have Fun with Ice Molds


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Get Your Garnish On


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Start Layering Your Liquor


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Pro tip: Grocery stores will have a wide variety of specialty candy available this time of year. Go ahead and use a gummy spider, snake or skeleton as a garnish in a cocktail!

Safely Experiment with Dry Ice


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Invest in Themed Glassware


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Don’t Forget the Kids


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(Alcohol-free, of course!)

When Halloween is done right, it could mean a big boost in revenue for your business. Navar reveals, “The most successful Halloween I’ve ever had grossed higher sales than my best St. Patrick’s Day.”

What does Navar plan on doing this year? “This year Halloween falls on a Wednesday, so I am going to offer food and drink specials from the 29th to the 31st. There will be plenty of candy for the neighborhood kids at our host stands, and obviously I’ll hang fake cobwebs that will haunt me for the rest of the year.”

Check out Upserve’s Restaurant Marketing Strategies Guide!

Written by   |  
Holly Everett is a five-year restaurant industry veteran turned small business marketing specialist. After working at Seven Stars Bakery in Providence, Rhode Island throughout college, she entered the world of marketing where she led B2B marketing initiatives at companies focusing on growing small businesses. At Upserve, she integrates her passion for the restaurant industry and knowledge of the needs of small business owners to help make restaurants wildly successful.