I don’t know how many shopping days there are until Christmas, but as I leave mine to the last minute, it’s kind of immaterial. However, I know that the season of good cheer can be make-or-break for licensed premises.  Here’s a run-down of some key factors in effective Christmas planning.

Licence hours/conditions

Many on and off licences have quirks in terms of hours of trade permitted around Christmas and New Year. For instance, some licences restrict hours on Christmas Day, whilst because New Year’s Eve falls on a Monday, many licences will have more restrictive hours than if we were to be toasting in the New Year over a weekend.  On the plus side, some licences might allow for extended hours over the key dates around December. It’s worth checking carefully to see what your licence permits to ensure that where necessary you can make provision to extend your hours as needed in good time. Also, that you are making the most of any permitted extensions you already have! 

Conditions on your premises licence may also need some consideration to make sure that you are not planning something that would be in breach of your licence. For example, you may want to put on DJs and your licence may have conditions relating to recorded music that either need complying with or removing. Also, do not forget that there is some leeway with the Live Music Act and recorded music exemptions to provide entertainment without a licence, but only up to 11pm. TENs can be used in both situations. 

Temporary Event Notices (TENs)

Using TENs to extend hours or avoid conditions on a licence may be necessary for your planned seasonal events.

Submission must be made at least 10 working days before the event for a TEN to be valid. As such, the key final dates for submission are: 

Last Friday before Christmas (21 December): Thursday 6 December

Christmas Eve: Friday 7 December

Boxing Day: Monday 10 December

New Year’s Eve: Wednesday 12 December

You can apply for late TENs up to 5 working days before an event, but it is not recommended. Late TENs can be refused if the police or environmental health officer object. 

Applying early is the best way to ensure you are able to offer all the events you want to put on.


Each year, the onus on both on and off-licence holders to ensure that they understand and deal appropriately with vulnerable customers increases. Christmas is a particularly difficult time as people who don’t normally drink or socialise together will be out in force. Looking out for obvious signs of drunkenness is a must. Also, the potential for inappropriate behaviour increases and with it the likelihood of complaints to staff about unwanted approaches/touching etc. Putting in place procedures and briefing staff on how to deal with these matters is critical to proper planning.

On that note, have a safe, profitable and happy festive season!