Holiday Cheer in Omaha, NE – 2018
Welcome back to part two of our holiday series! This month we are talking about all things cheerful—family gatherings, traditions (old and new), yummy holiday fare, gifts for loved ones, all the pretty lights and festive decorations—are you in the holiday spirit yet?
There is so much going on during the holidays; it’s easy to get busy and forget some of the necessities, like getting gifts for everyone on your list, or some of the preparation steps that go into planning a party, but don’t stress! We have some awesome recommendations for you in terms of gifts and fun holiday traditions, and we can point you in the direction of some local experts who know how to plan a get together for you and your people.
Gift Giving—Some Things Can’t Be Wrapped
Sometimes, the best gifts are the ones that can’t be wrapped. Experiences bring people more happiness than possessions do. As you’re going down your list of people to buy gifts for this holiday season, don’t just think about things they would want—think about something they actually need.
You can’t put a price tag on quality time, either. The perfect gift for someone might just be spending time with them. When we talked to Allisyn Meadows with 360 Clean, she said she feels like Christmas has become too much about the gifts and the amount of money spent.
“In my house, we turn the holidays back around to quality time,” Allisyn explains. “The women and children in my extended family (close friends, aunts, and grandmothers) get together in October or November to make Christmas crafts. We come up with a couple of core ideas and make sure we have the supplies, but everyone can bring whatever craft they’d like to work on. We eat, drink wine, and make a crafty mess! After a couple hours, we are able to walk away with some pretty great holiday decorations without having to spend too much money—and we had fun making them together!
My daughters and I like to handmake Christmas gifts for the other members of our family, like soaps, candles, lotions, cookies, and ornaments. These are always fun gifts to give and receive! My girls love telling people that they made them with their own two hands, and the gift usually has a pampering element so the recipients are very happy too.
On Christmas day, my family makes our usual big breakfast and then we spend the day playing games or baking. These have become holiday traditions that feel like gifts of their own.”
The important thing when it comes to giving, whether it be in the form of gifts, time, affection, etc., is that you know what means the most to the person receiving. Buying the right present for a loved one can feel like a lot of pressure. Since everyone has different tastes and interests, you’ll need to put a little effort in if you want to dazzle your friends, family, coworkers, or whomever it may be.
Here are three tips to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list this holiday season:
1. Make It Personal
When you give someone something that speaks to them personally, it becomes more than just a gift. It sends a message of how much you care about them because you actually put thought behind the money you spent on the gift.
“Make sure you give yourself enough time to come up with a thoughtful gift for the important people in your life,” advises Terry Zuck with Woodcraft. “If you’ve never tried woodworking, I encourage you to consider learning more about this fine craft and make a gift with your own two hands. There is something so satisfying about it! The beauty of woodworking is that you can customize it to fit your purpose. It doesn’t have to be anything huge or elaborate; just knowing that you put the work in to make it will be the most special thing about anything you make for a gift. At Woodcraft, we offer woodworking classes, either for you or someone you know. The gift of a new life skill is something a person can benefit from the rest of their lives. At that point, you’re not just giving someone a gift, you’re investing in their well being.”
Try to add a little bit of your personality in your gift giving, or give “the gift of you” and make your gift an experience you can share with your loved one. A beautiful place to take your loved one all year round for some quality time is Soaring Wings.
This award winning winery and brewery features Acoustic Afternoons every Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. (excluding major holidays), monthly trivia nights, occasional barrel tastings, Italian dinners, holiday events, and annual festivities. With a stacked event calendar like this, there are so many opportunities for you to treat friends or family members, or even coworkers, to a nice evening away from it all (10 minutes outside of Omaha to be exact). They are also a great place for corporate getaways and private/company parties.
“I encourage folks to keep up with our event calendar on our website,” comments Jim Shaw with Soaring Wings Vineyard & Brewing. “We enjoy welcoming new and familiar faces to our unique site.
With outdoor seating and our large Amphitheater we have an exceptional outdoor performance location. We have fantastic views over the Platte River Valley and it can truly be a winter wonderland out here during the holidays.
During these cold months we hold music and events inside our Platte View Room! However, some people enjoy still enjoy the fresh air on our covered deck.
In our tasting room, you may purchase a tasting of five of our wines or beers for $6 and receive a souvenir wine glass! Soaring Wings currently features 22 wines and 8 beers. If you aren’t able to bring someone here to try our offerings, a bottle of one of our signature wines would make a sweet (or dry) gift from a friend or loved one this Christmas.”
2. Do Some Creeping
That’s right, we’re telling you to creep on your friends and family. Go to their Facebook or Instagram. Chances are, they have wish lists on their Pinterest where you can find ideas based on the type of things they are interested in. Do you know what shoe size they are? What is their favorite clothing brand? Favorite color? Do they have a hobby or is there something they like to collect? Maybe they have a favorite band or artist and you can get them tickets to an upcoming concert. If you’re drawing a blank, there is nothing wrong with a little snooping around to get some inspiration.
3. Identify Needs and Wants
Unwrapping something big and shiny sounds nice, but is it something the person can actually use? Or is it just going to end up collecting dust? The best gifts offer a nice balance between needs and wants. There are plenty of products that come to mind that can help people run their lives more efficiently and still serve as a pleasant gift surprise.
Another classic option is getting someone a gift card. Gift cards don’t have to be a “cop-out” gift. If you know someone has a favorite place to shop or eat, why not give them the flexibility to shop for something they like on their own time, or let their next couple meals be on you. In our opinion, gift cards will never go out of style, and neither will ice cream—no matter how cold it may be!
Actually, things are really heating up in the ice cream world thanks to Cold Stone Creamery’s new Hot Stone™ Warm & Delicious™ Desserts! These include yummy dishes that combine indulgent ingredients like chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and chocolate cake with premium French vanilla ice cream.
According to Shawn Williams, franchise owner of six Cold Stone Creamery locations in Omaha, Cold Stone has created something entirely new—a warm, decadent treat with a hint of elegance and a whole lot of whimsical flair! Who wouldn’t love to be spoiled with something this delicious as their holiday present? You can give someone a Cold Stone gift card, or make it a special ice cream date by visiting one of the six Cold Stones in Omaha (LaVista – 126th and Giles, Midtown Crossing – 33rd and Farnam, Northpark – 120th and Blondo, Village Pointe – 168th and Dodge, kiosk inside CenturyLink Center, and kiosk inside Baxter Arena).
When it comes to ice cream, there is definitely a need and a want. Cold Stone Creamery has a lot more than just ice cream, though. For example, they offer cakes that you can customize and order for any occasion!
Holiday Traditions—Make Lasting Memories
Traditions lend a certain significance, spirit, and texture to our everyday lives. Research has consistently shown that families and friend groups that engage in regular traditions build a stronger connection and unity than those who don’t.
Traditions provide a chance for quality interaction, allowing people to get to know each other more intimately, and create a bond that comes from feeling that one is part of something special and even exclusive.
When coming up with a new holiday tradition, try to do something different than you normally do. The more out of the ordinary, the more memorable! That doesn’t mean it has to be anything crazy; it really is all about having fun with the people in your life.
Your tradition can be as simple as driving or walking around town to look at Christmas lights, or you can go all out by renting a venue for a large holiday party. You need to decide with your people what kind of activity fits your preferences and personality the most.
Here are some ideas we came up with:
- Decorating ornaments
- Family game night (board games, charades, puzzles, etc.)
- Holiday-themed trivia night with friends
- Baking cookies
- Go out to dinner in your ugly Christmas sweaters
- Movie marathon of your favorite holiday classics
Sometimes, traditions get formed spontaneously, but a lot of times they take planning. If you’re making plans with family or a big group, you’ll need to start coordinating details ahead of time to make sure everyone can participate.
Holiday parties are the ultimate tradition. They allow everyone to get together at once for a night of celebration. Renting out a venue is an attractive option to most because it means that almost everything is taken care of for them. Look into renting out one of the amazing venues in Omaha for your holiday festivities this year.
Party Planning—Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!
Doesn’t matter if your holiday plans involve staying in or going out, you’ll want to plan ahead. The basics of entertaining remain the same in your home as they do at any other venue around town. Key details to consider include atmosphere, food, drinks, and entertainment.
As for desserts, give your guests something to drool over by ordering your holiday treats from The Omaha Bakery. We know you’ve heard of it! With mouthwatering sticky rolls, freshly baked bread and breakfast pastries, bars and brownies, or an original creation for your special event, The Omaha Bakery has you and your sweet tooth covered for the holidays.
“Our bars and brownies are really popular this time of year and they make a great addition to your holiday dessert spread,” says Michelle Kaiser with The Omaha Bakery. “You can purchase our brownies individually or by the dozen. If a brownie tray isn’t right for the occasion we can do gift baskets as well. The brownies in our baskets are individually wrapped. Definitely try our Walnut Bars. They feature caramelized walnuts on a butter crust sweetened with honey. They taste similar to pecan pie, just with walnuts instead of pecans!
You can rest assured that all our goodies are made from scratch, using quality ingredients!
We have a variety of seasonal offerings and we can make an assortment of them for your special occasion. Mini pastries, mini mousse tartlets, mini coconut macaroons, bars, cheesecakes, brownies, bread puddings, and canolies—with all these options you have a better chance of making everyone happy.
To request any or all of these yummy treats, stop by the bakery or give us a call and we can go from there. You’ll simply need to have an idea of what you might like, what your specific needs are, and the date that you need your order completed. Special requests are always welcome.”
A party isn’t complete without drinks! If you’re hosting an army of people for the holidays, make sure you have enough beverages to last the duration of time that guest will be at your home.
“Knowing what to serve and the quantities needed is most often the dilemma that hosts and hostesses face,” says Jim Sobczyk with Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal. “We can help you decide how much beer, wine, liquor, punch and soft drinks you’ll need for your festivities. We realize that helping our clients stay within their budget while satisfying their guests’ needs is of the utmost importance. Instead of taking your chances and buying the wrong amount, we’ll save you a lot of time and hassle.”
Aside from party needs, Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal is also a great place to find a Christmas gift for the wine, beer, or liquor connoisseur in your life. They even offer DIY kits for those who like to brew their own beer at home, with easy-to-understand instructions that are great for beginners too.
Once you’ve lined up food and drinks, you’ll want to make sure your house is clean for when your guests arrive! You’ll have people using your restrooms and maybe even guest rooms if you plan to have overnight company.
House cleaning can be a time consuming task, so hire the professionals to do it for you. 360 Clean is locally owned and operated, and they are known for quality assurance and customer satisfaction. Plus, as a holiday special, 360 Clean is offering 15% off their services to new customers and 15% off all gift certificates ($60 minimum) through January 1. Call at least two weeks ahead of when you’ll need your house cleaned!
If you’re missing any of the essential party items, or maybe you don’t want to dirty your own, Honeyman Rent-All has a large inventory of items for rent. These include centerpieces, fine china and porcelain, glasses, and linens.
The outside of your home is just as important to decorate as the inside. Think about that curb appeal as all your guests arrive. You want them to see your house and instinctively start humming Christmas carols. It’s all about creating that holiday atmosphere, from start to finish.
Of course, if cleaning and decorating the interior of the house takes time, so does hanging up lights around the exterior and on bushes and trees. Luckily, Festive Expressions can help.
If you haven’t put your Christmas lights up already, the team of professionals at Festive Expressions will do it all for you—display design, installation, maintenance, take-down, clean-up/storage—everything.
“We will evaluate your outdoor space and create holiday lighting and decorating plans that fit well with the unique features of your home,” explains David Hastreiter with Christmas Décor by Festive Expressions.
“Decorating your property helps trigger the holiday mood, which is good for everyone. Plus, more lighting in the darker months of winter increase safety and security for your home. The decorating season is short, and our schedules tend to fill up by mid-November, so hurry and give Festive Expressions a call!”
Being a host has its exciting challenges, but some people prefer to take the pressure off themselves and eat out for the holidays (and we don’t blame them!).
When it comes to a unique dining experience, we recommend Acadian Grille, offering authentic Cajun cuisine in a cozy, modern neighborhood restaurant setting.
“Everything is prepared right in front of you,” notes Dan O’Brien with Acadian Grille. “From crab cakes, steak, Crawfish Étouffée, shrimp and grits, and po’ boys, to homemade dressings and desserts—we are bringing the Louisiana staples to Omaha. We have an impressive selection of fine wine and beer as well.”
If you want to please your friends and family who are in town for the holidays by giving them a taste of our local dining scene, Acadian Grille is the spot. At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t really matter where you decide to celebrate the holidays—what matters is that your celebrating with the special people in your life.
Finally, we know that the holidays might not be a cheerful time for some of you. Maybe you’re suffering from a bereavement or are struggling with mental health issues and the holidays just heighten your sense of loneliness or anxiety.
Here are a few tips for those of you who are struggling as you look ahead to the holidays:
- Don’t overdo it. If you need to stay home, stay home.
- Make time for self care. The holidays are such a busy time, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Don’t forget to relax.
- Look further ahead. If the weeks and months ahead seem like they are too much to handle on your own, envision yourself on the other side of your anxiety. Give yourself hope. Start thinking about a New Year’s resolution!
- On the flip side, take it day-by-day (minute-by-minute if you need) and don’t forget to breathe.
That’s a wrap! Get creative with your gifts and activities this holiday season, and make some amazing memories by starting a new tradition! We’ll pick up where we left off next month in part three of this Holiday Series. Until then, have a Happy Thanksgiving!