Holiday Cheer in Omaha, NE

While there’s plenty to do during the holidays that necessitates being out and about, with shopping and parties being the main events this time of year, many of us are also inviting people to join in the celebration at our own homes. Entertaining does take work, but far less on the part of the host who utilizes the talents of our local businesses and puts them to work doing what they do best!

{Your} Home for the Holidays

Whether staying with you while in town or invited over for a gathering, if you’ll be opening your home to holiday guests, you’ll need to prepare accordingly.

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, fare, drinks, and entertainment.

Charming Atmosphere

When going out we focus on getting ourselves presentable, which by definition means “fit to be seen.” Those who are entertaining in their homes not only have to look the part, but must also ensure that the surroundings do too.

As such, the emphasis is on cleanliness, creating a comfortable and welcoming ambiance, and of course during the holidays, festive décor is a must too. However, since this is a space that’s lived in daily, preparation in terms of the party setting can be quite the formidable challenge.

Also, there’s the all-too-familiar panic-induced cleaning session the night before or day of the arrival or event that can suck all of the remaining time, energy and attention away from anything else that might be just as deserving of priority status. Unless you thrive in this type of situation, it’s to be avoided if at all possible.

Hiring a cleaning company that performs services for residential clients around the holidays may be the option that’s right for you. With cleaning taken care of, which as we’re all aware can be a huge time suck, it will free up valuable time that you can spend on what’s probably a lengthy list of other things that will demand your attention. Whether it’s just key areas of the home that will be trafficked more with visitors, such as the kitchen and bathroom, or a full-scale cleaning session, there’s generally no requests that are too small or large to accommodate. You will want to look into booking these services as soon as possible because as you might assume based on the convenience factor plus the fact that most people don’t really like to clean anyway, they’re in high demand this time of year.

As far as décor and ambiance go, holiday lighting is major. If you’re making an investment in lighting based on the potential of hosting guests at some point or for a planned event, you may as well enjoy it all season long. As with cleaning, this is another area where hiring a professionals can make life a lot easier. Arriving at a home that’s all decked out in a professional display of twinkling holiday lights is a fantastic way to welcome–and dazzle—your guests! This month is the ideal time to have holiday lights put up at your residence, and since you can simply turn them on or leave them off as you like, no time is really too soon to set the appointment. Once you’ve got the outside lighting taken care of, you can focus on putting your decorating skills to work on the inside of your home, which is usually much more fun anyway!

Speaking of which, when assessing what you need for décor along with the other party essentials and where you’ll go to find those items, keep in mind that rental may be a better options than purchasing outright in some instances. Whether you’re in need of practical items for your party, such as extra tables and chairs or place settings, or you’re looking for just the right accents to set the mood, finding a good place to rent these things for a short period of time will save you from spending money on something you may never use again.

Honeyman Rent-All is a leader in party and event rentals, serving clients in the area dating back to 1968. The company’s inventory is extensive, and can be viewed on their website––under the Party Rentals tab. The equipment rental process is easy and designed to be as hassle-free as possible. Items are provided the day before the event and clients are allowed to return them the day after while only being charged rent for one day. There’s value in the cost savings, but also in the convenience of this arrangement. Categories of interest to those hosting parties this year might include bar service, centerpieces, chafers, linens, chairs/tables/dance floors, china and porcelain, décor, entertainment, event lighting, games, and more. There are so many possibilities there just waiting to be put to use!

Party Fare

Appetizer spreads galore. Platters of pretty treats. Classic holiday feast staples. This is exactly what we all have to look forward to during this year’s festivities, no surprises there!

As with the fare for any type of party, you can get as creative as you please since the Omaha Metro is rich with culinary talent. If you’re going all out this year, get to it and start talking possibilities with the businesses at the top of your list to ensure you can still get on the books for the date(s) you need. Catering and having meals prepared in the home for parties, and even incorporating cooking classes into the mix, have also becoming much more popular and requested services; all of which would definitely take your party to the next level. Or, if you simply want to treat your guests to a few good meals during their stay but don’t want to slave in the kitchen to make that happen, no problem there either. In any scenario, working with someone who has done it before and can guide you through the process or alert you to things that may not have crossed your mind is highly recommended.

One place in particular where you can find all of the traditional holiday fare and even some unique twists on classic favorites is none other than Just Good Meat. Pick-up, delivery, catering—they’ve got you covered!

Sean Fuller - Just Good Meat

Sean Fuller
Just Good Meat

“Providing our customers with the highest quality meats and side dishes for their holiday dinners and parties is our specialty this time of year, and we absolutely love it,” says Sean Fuller, owner of Just Good Meat. “While our farm fresh and smoked turkeys are by far the most popular of our offerings, especially this month, we always have a wide variety of meats to choose from including bone-in turkey breasts, bone-in or boneless old-fashioned dry cure ham, smoked prime rib and whole beef tenderloins, duck, geese and capons, just to name a few. Even better, every year we run specials on these items around the holidays as an added bonus. Along with the vast selection of main dishes to choose from, we have plenty of homemade sides available from garlic mashed potatoes to sage stuffing with sausage mixed in, all the way down to rolls and desserts. With the option to stop in and pick up items in the store, schedule an order for pick-up or delivery, or schedule our catering service, all with the ability to completely customize your meal, flexibility is our forte. While the majority of our offerings are always available at the store any time you pay us a visit, it’s important to be aware that some of the items such as the turkeys and smoked prime rib are by pre-order only. As we’ve just begun taking pre-orders for our turkeys at the beginning of November, there is still plenty of time to give us a call and get everything in place. However, especially for larger parties, you’ll want to place your order as soon as possible to ensure that you get exactly what you want, right when you need it.”

As far as holiday treats and desserts go, again, there’s really nothing that comes to mind that can’t be done by one of the fantastic local bakeries here in the Omaha Metro.

While some people love doing the actual baking themselves, others may prefer enjoying the finished product when it comes to holiday goodies. The Omaha Bakery not only delivers specialty treats that are to-die-for, but also takes great pride in providing the best customer service around.

Michelle Kaiser

Michelle Kaiser
The Omaha Bakery

“Party trays and dessert bars are great for those hosting parties in their homes,” advises Michelle Kaiser, owner of The Omaha Bakery. “You can mix and match for a nice selection of seasonal goodies, which gives you a better chance of making everyone happy, and the presentation is sure to delight your guests! With such a wide variety of offerings, just stop by 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! As with almost anything to be done during the holidays, the sooner you get in contact with us the better. This is particularly true if it’s something that calls for creativity, customization, or for larger orders. If you do find yourself short on time, not to worry, we’ll put something nice together for you to pop in and pick up. We take pride in putting special touches on all of our creations, and we’d be honored to assist you in treating those you’ll be entertaining this holiday season!”

Along with fantastic catering offerings and everything available for guests of the restaurant, Garden Café also has a full-service bakery at your service during the holidays. Well-known for producing delicacies that are just as pretty on the table as they are delicious to eat, a tradition that dates back to 1985, their amazing cakes and pies are always favorites during the holiday season. You can also arrange to pick up party trays or place a carry-out order for a meal that’s ready to serve, and to make your event that much easier, there’s even the option of home delivery. Service areas include Omaha, Chalco, Ralston, La Vista, Millard, and Elkhorn, NE and Council Bluffs, IA. It’s a great spot to treat your guests to breakfast or brunch while they’re in town too!

Celebratory Drinks

What’s a holiday party without a great toast? Being in the company of those we hold dear, mingling while sipping festive drinks, is the epitome of holiday soirees.

Setting up a bar or drink station at home or preparing a special concoction to serve at your party requires a bit more planning than heading over to your neighborhood bar and lounge, but it’s almost as easy with the help of those who have plenty of experience in this area.

For your holiday party spirits and refreshments, you’ll find an amazing selection to choose from at Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal. As knowing what to serve and the exact quantities needed can be quite the dilemma, the experienced staff at Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal will not only help you decide the best fit for beverage offerings but also the proportion of beer, wine, liquor, punch and soft drinks while also staying within your budget. In addition to carrying all of the classic party favorites, you’ll have convenient access to party goods such as tableware and professional bartenders are also available for hire. Furthermore, whether your choice is a complete bar set-up or a simple punch bowl you can count on the staff to provide a variety of great ideas.

For those who are all about simplicity, but still want to serve up a mean drink for guests to enjoy, Margarita Man offers the best of both worlds.

Margarita Man provides commercial-grade frozen beverage machines and a selection of 23 gourmet flavors that can also be mixed and matched for a signature party drink. Along with delivery and pick-up of the machine(s), they’ll take care of set-up on-site, provide the cups and straws, and will even mix up your first batch so it’s ready to go by the time your guests arrive. The ability to self-serve delicious frozen cocktails or drinks makes the party much easier to enjoy as a guest and especially as the host. After the first batch, mixing the product is the only work you are required to do to enjoy countless frozen drinks until your party ends. You can even leave the cleaning to the professionals, that’s included too!

Dan Cheloha-Margarita Man

Dan Cheloha
Margarita Man

“The ease of serving beverages is a major benefit, particularly because you won’t have to worry about a bartender or running out of ice,” explains Dan Cheloha, owner of the Margarita Man Nebraska franchise. “For a party where both kids and adults will be attending, our Grand Fiesta Package with two machines is a great choice because it allows you to serve adult drinks in one machine and a non-alcoholic option in the other. We always strive to schedule the delivery of the machines early enough to help ensure that there is one less thing to worry about when getting ready for your guests to arrive. It’s easy, affordable, and the team at Margarita Man does all of the hard work for you, leaving you free to fully enjoy your party!”

On the other side of the coin, as a guest in someone’s home during the holidays, it’s customary to come bearing gifts. Bring a beverage of choice along to share with everyone or as a gift for the host, depending on what called for on that particular occasion. With great seasonal wines and limited edition gift arrangements this time of year, you’re sure to find something that will be a big hit at our local retailers.

Festive Entertainment

You’ve got everyone together, food and drinks have been thoroughly enjoyed…but there’s still something missing. What to do now? While sometimes conversation is all that’s needed for a great party, it also doesn’t hurt to plan on some entertainment to keep things interesting. For events hosted at a private residence, space is likely the determining factor, but there are still ways to incorporate fun and festive forms of entertainment. You can’t go wrong with holiday music—karaoke, sing-alongs, dancing to all of the classics, or even live music courtesy of carolers, local bands, or professional musicians if you’re going all out. Games are usually a great time too, and there are certainly plenty out there to choose from.

Tyler Calabrese

Tyler Calabrese
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Alternatively, if you’ll have out-of-town guests staying with you during the holidays, getting out and about to have some fun will probably be on the agenda at some point. What to do then?

Going to the movies is a tradition for many during the holiday season, but if you’re going to show them a really amazing time, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is the perfect destination. “Our guests can enjoy dinner, drinks, or any of the popular theatre snacks while they relax and enjoy the movie,” says Tyler Calabrese, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s Franchise Principle for the Omaha Market. “We have casual dining options and a full bar available, with service right to your seats. It’s the ultimate move theatre experience, and is equally as enjoyable for first-timers as it is for moviegoers who frequent our location here in La Vista.”

Brenda McIntosh Lied Lodge & Conference Center

Brenda McIntosh
Lied Lodge & Conference Center

With all of the natural beauty that Arbor Day Farm has to offer and its close proximity to the Omaha Metro, it’s a quick trip to make for an amazing holiday experience. “Guests are always welcome to visit Lied Lodge & Conference Center and enjoy our nature-inspired holiday decorations,” says Brenda McIntosh, Sales Director at Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm. “Sit around one of our four fireplaces and enjoy great company with a glass of Arbor Day Farm Wine or hot chocolate from our Library Lounge. Then climb aboard Arbor Day Farm’s enclosed trolley for a tour of historic Nebraska City during the Holiday Tour of Lights or explore the 52-room Morton Mansion at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, complete with holiday music and vintage décor.”

Decision Time

After reviewing all of the details provided, those who are still reading this likely fall into two categories. First, you may be even more excited to host guests in your home! Of course, we hope that you’re inspired, have new ideas to explore, and also are reminded of important items that can be easily overlooked during all of the holiday hustle and bustle. However, and this is not a bad thing by any means, upon further evaluation of the pros and cons associated with entertaining in your home, you may have decided to abandon ship in favor of proceeding with alternate plans. Should you find yourself in this position, not to worry…yet.

If this means simply finding other arrangements for your guests while they stay in town for whatever reason, booking a hotel room it probably your best bet. Doing so as soon as possible will ensure you are in control of the decision and can pick one with the best location and amenities.

At this point there are still plenty of wonderful options to consider with availability yet this year for private events, whether you’re hosting family and friends or a corporate affair. If a local venue is determined to be the best option for your event, the same advice applies–you’ll want to get your reservation made as soon as possible. Right now many are still planning their holiday parties, but are beginning to kick things into high gear for the most part.

Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch has officially shifted into holiday gear now that Halloween and wedding season have passed, with facilities on the property that are perfectly suited for parties year-round.

Tyson Schaefer-Headshot

Tyson Schaefer
Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch

“With four Western-chic barns on the property, our venue can accommodate groups of all sizes,” says Tyson Schaefer of Bellevue Berry Farm & Pumpkin Ranch. “We’ve been hosting parties for over 20 years now, so our team has had the pleasure of helping many different types of groups with their holiday gatherings, from company parties to celebrations with friends and family.

Our two smaller barns will comfortably accommodate up to 150 guests, our mid-sized accommodates between 175-225 people, and our largest fits a minimum of 225 all the way up to 375 guests. If your guest list surpasses the highest number, we can even work around that too. In the past we’ve incorporated a large, heated tent attached to the barn with an outdoor bar station and additional dance floor. Each of the barns has indoor/outdoor space that’s ideal for a good flow, with a private campfire area right outside to gather around.

As far as feeding your guests, we have that covered too. While our traditional holiday meals are by far the most popular for the next few months, our clients are welcome to choose from anything on the menu including our specialty BBQ fare. We serve the entrees and side dishes buffet style so that people are welcome to seconds and are able to graze or eat whenever they are comfortable doing so. We also can provide a full bar complete with the service of trained bartenders, and if you have a specialty holiday drink in mind, just bring us the idea or recipe and we’ll take it from there.

We are also fortunate to have a very talented decorator available who can bring a festive flare to your party so you don’t have to worry about finding everything you need and putting it together just right. The barns truly do come to life with the right special touches, providing a festive, charming atmosphere that’s warm and welcoming.”

Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm is another scenic destination that comes alive during the holiday season.

“At Lied Lodge & Conference Center, our staff helps create and execute fun, unique ideas for holiday events of any size group and budget,” McIntosh also notes. “With so much here on the property, there are a lot of different options available. We do still have dates open now through January to partake in the festivities of the holiday season here at Lied Lodge. The best advice I can give is to plan early, but to also know it doesn’t hurt to make last-minute inquiries. Our staff is here to help make the planning process easy, from guest rooms to meals and group entertainment. Whether you are looking at planning a party in November, December, or January, we are here to help finalize all details down to the meal and entertainment. For a limited time, based on availability and some restrictions that apply, we are currently offering complimentary event space for holiday parties held through January, which is a fantastic deal!”

Holiday-themed parties at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema are one of the newer options available in the area, so if you want to do something different this year, any choice here definitely won’t disappoint!

Calabrese also highlighted a few of the options available to choose from this holiday season:

Action Pack Quote-Along Movies – Action Pack events include a host, props and games for a fun, fully-interactive experience. We’ve taken your favorite holiday movies and added in karaoke style subtitles for the best lines so that everyone can quote along with the characters on the screen: Bad Santa, A Christmas Story, Elf, Home Alone, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Ultimate Holiday Party – Mix and match the following options for the ultimate party or add one 30-minute option to your event. All events include an Action Pack host to get everyone in the holiday mood.

Action Pack Holiday Pops Sing-Along: We’ve mixed together all of the best holiday songs from pop favorites like *NSYNC, the Muppets, Bing Crosby, and Mariah Carey. With on-screen lyrics and props, your group will be dancing in the aisles in no time!

Action Pack Grinch Bingo: Watch the classic animated How The Grinch Stole Christmas and play along with your own holiday bingo card. Includes bingo supplies, prizes, and interactive games.

Action Pack Holiday Trivia: Seen every holiday special and heard every cheer filled song? Guests can test their holiday knowledge with audio and video trivia. Includes answer sheets and prizes.

Holiday TV Party: Pick up to three of your favorite holiday TV specials from our list and encourage your guests to wear their ugliest Christmas sweater!

{Leaving} Home for the Holidays

Now that we’ve discussed at length what to plan for if you’ll be entertaining at home or at least in the city you call home, let’s talk a little bit about things to keep in mind if you’ll be away from home during the holidays this year. Here is a handy Holiday Vacation Checklist for all of you soon-to-be travelers out there:

  1. Create an up-to-date inventory of valuables, such as TVs, jewelry, computers and other large-ticket items. Include detailed descriptions, photographs, makes, models and serial numbers. Make sure that this information is as organized and exhaustive as possible.
  2. Store items that you consider to be most important in a fireproof vault or safe that’s hidden in a designated spot.
  3. Install automatic light timers and set the timers to go on and off at logical times of the day. If you’re able to control your home’s key systems remotely, make sure to take advantage of that feature to periodically turn the lights on and off; set an alert as a reminder if you need it.
  4. Turn down your thermostat to save on electricity or gas bills. (You may also be able to adjust this from your mobile device if you have a home automation system, but it doesn’t hurt to get in the habit of doing it before you leave for an extended period of time.)
  5. Arrange for snow removal while you’re away so it’s not a telltale sign that no one has been coming or going. (And because it’s your duty as a homeowner in the city of Omaha to keep those sidewalks cleared!) Also, make sure no vehicles are left on the street just in case an emergency parking ban goes into effect while you’re away.
  6. Check your holiday lights for fraying or damage, including cracked lamp holders or loose connections. (When purchasing light strings, extension cords, spotlights, electrical decorations, and even gas appliances or carbon monoxide alarms, look for the certification mark of an accredited certification organization such as CSA International, UL, or ELT to ensure that the products comply with applicable standards for safety and performance.) Also, make sure to follow the golden rule of extension cords: Never connect more than one together.
  7. Trim shrubbery and trees. Overgrown shrubs provide the perfect cover for would-be intruders.
  8. Place a temporary hold on mail and newspaper deliveries or ask someone to pick them up daily for you.
  9. Don’t leave holiday gifts out where they are visible to passersby or can be spotted through the windows. Break down boxes and place them in dark trash bags or recycle bins when you take them to the curb for pick-up. Leaving them out in the open will advertise what’s inside your home.
  10. As you leave, do a final walk-through of your home to ensure all windows and doors are locked, and unplug all nonessential devices.
  11. Activate motion detectors and alarm systems. Download your alarm company’s app onto your phone to monitor your home while you’re away.
  12. Pass the word along to your neighbors so that they know to watch for any unusual activity while you are away.
  13. Be aware of what you are posting on social media; most importantly, your location. If it’s common knowledge that you’re away, you become more of a target for home invasion and theft.
  14. Designate a neighbor or someone you trust to check in periodically while you are gone, or consider inviting someone to stay in your absence. DO NOT leave a key under the mat, in the closest planter, at the top of the door frame, or any other common hiding spot.

{SHOP LOCAL} for the Holidays

Last but not least, now that we’ve thoroughly covered the gatherings, let’s end on an important topic related to finding all of these gifts. During a time when a significant amount of money is being spent, we can all make our dollars go even further by supporting our local economy and the businesses in our community.

Keep in mind that many local retailers offer the option of online shopping, so you can do all of your normal shopping in the convenience of your home or wherever you may be with a little extra time on your hands while still doing business with the people right here in Nebraska.

Derek Broman DE Guns

Derek Broman
DE Guns

A great example is local firearms sales and service center DE Guns. “We take pride in our user-and mobile-friendly website,, which makes purchasing gifts very easy for our customers,” says Derek Broman, owner of DE Guns. “Both shipping and in-store pick-up options are always available, and our Deal of the Day page always offers great merchandise at the lowest price around. So if you see a good deal on our website, don’t be afraid to purchase online because you can always pick up the item in-store and check it out thoroughly before you leave with it. Furthermore, sometimes our inventory moves really fast so if you see something you like you’ll want to get your order placed as soon as possible. Firearm accessories, cleaning supplies and ammunition (especially defensive, which costs more but is well worth it for the benefits) always make great gifts. A gun safe is a really nice and useful item, and we also have a selection of concealed carry purses in many different styles that have been a popular online purchase.”

Also, there are so many wonderful things to do here in the Omaha Metro that giving the gift of an experience is a great way to go. This could be tickets to a show or game, treating someone to a meal, spa services, a fun activity, a class, or even something that contributes to what they love to do most.

Gerry Phelan Midwest Woodworkers

Gerry Phelan
Midwest Woodworkers

“How many opportunities do you get to give a lifetime skill?” says Gerry Phelan, owner of Midwest Woodworkers. “Giving someone the opportunity to learn a new skill would be a priceless gift.   If someone on your gift list is creative and enjoys working with their hands, a woodworking class is an awesome choice.  We offer fun, hands-on sessions where you don’t just talk about woodworking, you get to make something.  Or, you could take a class yourself and then make a gift.  If you are able to make something special with your own hands, that gift has a value that can’t be calculated.

And woodworking isn’t just for guys.  We are seeing more and more women getting into woodworking.   Can’t make an evening class?  We now have classes during the day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  In fact, we have had to expand to offering classes seven days a week.  Take a class or give a class – it will be a great gift either way.

We get a lot of folks in the store who are shopping for a friend or relative who is a woodworker.  Since woodworking offers so many different disciplines, it’s often difficult for folks to know to what to buy a woodworker if they haven’t been given a specific list.  We’ve had gift buyers who have purchased tools or equipment for their favorite woodworker, but more often we look for special items to enhance their workshops.

We try to have items on hand that any woodworker would value and we always look for interesting and unusual items that are related to woodworking to offer for the holidays so there are some fun and useful gift ideas available. Before I had the store I used to tell my family that a perfect gift would be to just get me a piece of wood from Midwest Woodworkers.  And believe it or not, we have had folks take home a special piece of exotic hardwood as a gift.  It is always fun to help a customer with a gift like that.  And I’m sure it makes for an interesting wrapping problem.

We’re not for everyone, but if you have a woodworker on your holiday gift list, we should talk.  We carry the best in woodworking supplies and equipment and exotic wood that you won’t find anywhere else.  It can be hard to know what your woodworker needs, but we will try to help.  And if all else fails, we have gift certificates that can’t miss.  Our gift certificates have no fees or extra charges and they never expire.

If any of this has piqued your interest, watch for our big Black Friday sale.  We’ll have great deals on awesome woodworking equipment.  Stop in on Black Friday; we’ll also have in-store woodworking demonstrations going on all day.  While all the craziness is going on in the malls you can enjoy peace and the smell of sawdust at Midwest Woodworkers!”

The familiar lyrics of a timeless holiday favorite say it best: “If you want to be happy in a million ways – For the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home.” As we all prepare for our upcoming holiday festivities, keep in mind that there are so many different ways our local businesses can be of service during this wonderful time of year. With gatherings and gifts, there are such amazing possibilities to explore—and the time to do that is upon us.