Now that we have officially celebrated the first holiday of the season, holiday entertaining and gift buying will be major themes in our lives for the next couple months.  That being said, it should be an enjoyable experience; not one to stress over.  When done right, holiday preparations can simultaneously provide a chance to take in all of the enjoyable reasons why we love the holidays in the first place.  However, finding the right resources to help you check everything off of your holiday list makes all the difference in the world.

Entertaining Guests for the Holidays

One of the best parts of the holidays the quality time we get to enjoy with others.  This doesn’t mean the time we spend with others in the never-ending lines at major retailers everywhere, although that definitely provides time to get to know the shoppers around you.  Rather, it is the time we spend sharing holiday cheer and celebrating the holiday season with the people who are a special part of our lives.  Entertaining is a major part of the holiday season!  Whether you are a novice entertainer or seasoned at hosting guests, you can always improve upon your skill set or change things up from one year to the next.  Furthermore, there are many things that go into the preparation of a successful event.  A great entertainer is always impressive, but the best trick is finding people to help you with all of the details so you look like the one who has it all together.  That gives you a chance to enjoy the most important part—the people you are entertaining!

marsha fiocca americinn and suites omaha nebraskaThe AmericInn Hotel & Suites Omaha is the perfect place for holiday guest overflow, as well as a wonderful place to host a holiday party or event.  Marsha Fiocca, General Manager for the AmericInn Hotel & Suites Omaha says, “We want the AmericInn Hotel & Suites Omaha to feel like a home away from home, so we pay attention to the decorating details in our lobby and meeting spaces. The hotel is decked out festively for families and parties all the way through the first week of January.  This is a very busy time for everyone and we want our guests to feel special and cared for.  Arrangements can be made for all types of events that include catering and music.  And it is certainly wise when partying to have an event here so guests don’t need to get back on the road and drive.”  The AmericInn staff is available to help the guests in any way possible from complimentary gift wrapping to clearing their vehicle of snow during the winter months.  She adds, “We recommend that guests reserve early as holiday dates fill quickly.  We have several packages designed around shopping and the holidays. Our location is in close proximity to many fantastic venues and easy for visitors to navigate. Our lovely, refreshed guestrooms are the perfect solution for staying the night after an evening of celebrating here.”

marleen white uncorked paint and sip studio omaha nebraskaWhen friends and family come to town, show them a fun and unique experience at Uncorked Paint & Sip Studio!  Marleen White of Uncorked Paint & Sip Art Studio says, “With everything going on during the holidays, Uncorked offers a hassle-free opportunity to relax while expressing your creativity and enjoying your company.  Whether you want to host a private party or simply gather with a few friends or guests visiting for the holidays, Uncorked is a fun way to spend quality time and you leave with your own painting and a memorable experience.  We can even personalize your private holiday party to meet your needs–feel free to give us a call to discuss all of the details!  You can also give the gift of art to your loved ones with a gift certificate for a session at Uncorked.  This allows them to choose the painting they would like to try and a time that works best. Join us for painting and partying this holiday season at Uncorked Paint & Sip Art Studio!”

addie neeman cut spike distillery omaha nebraskaCut Spike Distillery and Lucky Bucket Brewery also have you covered for the trifecta of holiday entertaining, parties and gift giving.  Their tasting room is available to rent for private parties and company events, and is literally inside of the distillery.  This provides the opportunity for a brewery tour during your private party, and a chance for your guests to sample local handcrafted beers and spirits made right here in LaVista.  For gift giving this holiday season, Cut Spike Distillery has just released their rum, vodka, and whiskey so you have an excellent chance to share something new.  Furthermore, gift certificates provide the perfect opportunity to choose from their line-up of beers, spirits, merchandise, or tours and tastings.  Addie Neman of Lucky Bucket Brewery & Cut Spike Distillery says, “Give your loved ones a little something different this year with our locally handcrafted beer or spirits!  We offer 5 different bottled brews, growlers, and bottles of our newly released signature spirits for purchase as well as Lucky Bucket merchandise including t-shirts and hats.  You can’t beat the fact that locally made brews and spirits simply taste better.  Our beer is made, bottled, and packaged right here, which means it’s not sitting in a warehouse for months before your get to drink it.  It’s as fresh as you can get…and fresh beer is great beer!”

denise duvall lied lodge omaha nebraskaLocated on 260-acre Arbor Day Farm, Lied Lodge & Conference Center is in the midst of a gorgeous, natural setting that becomes a festive wonderland for the holidays.  Denise DuVall of Lied Lodge & Conference Center says, “Having everything under one roof certainly makes Lied Lodge ideal for all types of holiday gatherings and gift giving. At Lied Lodge we provide private rooms to enjoy time together, meals prepared and served by our professional staff, a scenic place to go for a winter stroll, fireplaces that have already been loaded with wood from the timbers, and an indoor pool for a refreshing swim.  And you can sleep in the next morning knowing breakfast is waiting in the dining room!  We also have a trolley available for our guests to take a tour of the holiday lights, which is extremely popular.”  She adds, “Our gift cards to Lied Lodge are particularly appealing because they can be used anywhere on Arbor Day Farm! This includes reserving our guest rooms with access to plenty of amenities and attractions, as well as a variety of popular spa services and our own Arbor Day Farm wines that are perfect gifts for friends, family, employees or clients who appreciate wine and local products.  We have heard many comments from guests that they look forward to getting a gift card to Lied Lodge or they have given a card and enjoyed the look on people’s faces when they open the gift and see it is to Lied Lodge.”

angela roeber strategic air and space museum ashland nebraskaWhen it comes to the holidays, experiences are incredibly important as they form lifelong memories that are cherished for generations.  Another great place to share with holiday visitors, or to host your holiday event, is the Strategic Air & Space Museum.  Angela Roeber of Strategic Air & Space Museum says, “Why stress over cleaning, cooking or entertaining? We have it covered and your guests will have a blast!  Located only 25 minutes from either Omaha or Lincoln, the Strategic Air & Space Museum offers a number of options for your holiday party. With over 300,000 square feet of space, planning an event is easy and allows for a range of possibilities. We can accommodate a group anywhere from 20 to 2,000.  One of the best features of the Strategic Air and Space Museum is the glass atrium at the entrance of the Museum. This offers a unique and intimate setting for your guests underneath the SR-71 Blackbird. For larger groups you have the opportunity to rent one of the Museum’s display hangars. Both hangars allow you the opportunity to dine under the wings of our aircraft. No matter what location you choose it’s sure to be inspiring.  We also offer free parking, open catering, and all of our parties have access to our interactive exhibits and simulator rides.  This includes access to our special MathAlive! exhibit, which will be featured at the Museum from now until January 5th and is fun for all ages.”  Roeber also encourages everyone to share the museum with their friends and family by giving the gift of a Strategic Air & Space Museum membership. This gift is one that your friends and family can enjoy throughout the entire year, and is sure to be an unexpected surprise that will provide an experience you won’t find anywhere else!

angie lewis the corky canvas omaha nebraskaAnother unique place to host your holiday party, or to entertain guests who are visiting for the holidays, is Nebraska’s first paint and wine studio The Corky Canvas.  According to Angie Lewis, owner of The Corky Canvas, “Holiday parties at The Corky Canvas are unique in that we paint, drink wine, eat and mingle all while listening to good music!  It is a great place to bring your friends and family for a memorable experience together during the holidays. While sipping on a glass of wine and snacking on catered food of your choice, our instructors will walk you through a painting step-by-step. No artistic experience needed–really! We provide a fun atmosphere where everyone is encouraged to try something new.  The best part is everyone gets to take their paintings home with them to remember the fun time they had at your holiday event! She adds, “A trend we’ve been seeing is booking holiday parties in November in order to take a group picture of everyone holding their finished holiday painting to use for a holiday card. It really does make for a perfect greeting card! We provide holiday entertainment for many types of groups–everything from friends and family to doctor, dental and dermatology offices, and insurance companies from all over Nebraska.  While this includes a lot of women, guys really seem to like it too! Some groups book private parties and others go to dinner and then join one of our high energy night classes, but there are definitely options to best accommodate your specific needs.  Check out the “Book a Party” page and calendar page on our website for more information and to check availability.  A paint brush in one hand and a glass of wine in the other makes for a memorable holiday party!”

Planning Your Memorable Holiday Event

kimmylea konsel limelight expressionsWhen planning any event, there is a laundry list of items to consider.  That list may get even longer if you are planning something for your co-workers or corporate clients in addition to family and friends, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. One very important task of planning your to-do list is choosing the right people to assist in your holiday party planning process.  When choosing companies to assist in your holiday party needs, always think local first! Not only do you support the local community but also you have the added benefit of having better customer service. They can meet face-to-face as well as get you your product or service more efficiently.  One local company that can make your holiday party planning a little less stressful is LimeLight Expressions. Kimmylea Konsel of LimeLight Expressions says, “We are a family-owned and operated company right here in Omaha. LimeLight Expressions can assist with any event planning needs from start to finish so you can enjoy, relax and show your guests a wonderful time without all the hassle of planning your event during the holiday season.”  Additionally, LimeLight Expressions customizes everything for each individual or business–from invitations to decorations, they have you covered.  If you still need those holiday cards, either personal or business or even holiday party invitations, think of LimeLight Expressions. Everything they design is hand drawn and completely unique for you. Plus, you’re not only receiving a quality product or service with LimeLight Expressions but you support a local business and the local community. For every dollar spent with LimeLight Expressions, 10% of the net proceeds go to a charity of your choice and during the holiday season, 20% of all net proceeds go back to the local community.  Let LimeLight Expressions put you in the limelight by thinking outside the box for you and making your holiday party something that your guests will truly remember.

Are you looking for some holiday party ideas that will keep your guests talking about your event throughout the years? Kimmylea provided us with several great examples:

Live Entertainment: Creating the right atmosphere for any event is key. Why not create an electrifying atmosphere with a live band or DJ for your holiday party. Did you know some of the top live bands are right here in Omaha? It’s true! We have unbelievable live bands that will not only create an uplifting atmosphere but will have the dance floor swinging all night long. Don’t be afraid to get everyone up and moving around!

Ice Sculpture: For unique and fun centerpieces or a rare adult beverage dispenser, who doesn’t love a creative ice sculpture? Ice sculptures are a real crowd pleaser and if a sculpture isn’t big enough for you, you could feature your company logo in ice or an entire bar made out of ice!

Interactive Experiences: If involvement is what you seek, there are many ways to make it happen!  Interactive game shows can be set up for your party at local venues or even in a home setting. Local scavenger hunts are a great way to get out and see the sites of Omaha during the holidays. Cook-offs are a great way to tickle your guests’ taste buds with a little fancy feast. We have amazing culinary artists in town that are remarkable. Not only can they come in and do a cooking demonstration, but you can also choose to have your guests participate. It is a fun, interactive way to learn new recipes and participate as a group or allow a top chef to cook for your guests.

Flair: Have you ever seen flair bartending or flairtending? It is a fun way to WOW your guests and get delicious cocktails for the entire evening. It is sure to please all your guests as they juggle, flip and flame through the evening.

Theme: A holiday party theme is a wonderful way to really have fun and get your guests involved. Find a theme that makes it interesting to come to your event. Everyone loves the ugly sweater parties and winter wonderlands. If your budget allows, turn your home or venue into a unique setting of wonder. This is a sure way to make your holiday party different and your guests will be talking about your event for years to come. Plus, the invitations with your one-of-a-kind theme will peak your guests’ interest to mark their calendars right away.

If you are looking for some additional holiday party ideas or want to try one of these suggestions but are just not sure where to start, contact LimeLight Expressions to assist in your holiday planning!

Honeyman Rent-All offers an extensive selection of rental items ideal for holiday parties or entertaining including tables, bars, chairs, linens, china, chafers, lighting, slush and soft serve machines, and much more.  They also offer delivery and on-site set up of all necessary equipment, and will take everything down after the event.  A really useful service they offer is planning for the layout of the event, as they have a program that can tell exactly how many tables and chairs will fit in a particular area.  Bill Reynolds of Honeyman Rent-All explains, “All we need is the dimensions of the area and the type of tables, and the program does the rest!” He adds, “Our items that are the most popular around the holidays are linens, chafers, and anything that revolves around food.  We can provide items as simple as a tablecloth or two for a small gathering all the way up to an elaborate arrangement of tables with settings and skirted serving tables complete with chafers and centerpieces.  We strive to make renting equipment hassle-free as we provide items the day before the event and let our clients return them the day after while only charging rent for one day.”

If you need to hire a catering service for your holiday party, Sam & Louie’s Event Catering is now available in Omaha!  Leah Parodi, Catering Coordinator for Sam & Louie’s Event Catering says, “Whether you are hosting 5 or 500 people, we can provide everything you need including plastic and paper goods, beverages, delicious food and one-on-one personalized service which involves party set up, service during the event and clean-up.  For a more elegant special event, Sam & Louie’s offers catering coordinators, taste testing and menu selections, elegant and high quality disposable plastic ware and decorated buffet tables with white linens and banquet chafing dishes.  Sam & Louie’s Event Catering is a full service caterer with a large buffet menu, including gluten free items, designed to meet all your needs.  We offer hors d’oeuvres, full and limited bar services, deserts and special buffet options for kids.  Pizza and pasta are Sam & Louie’s specialty, but assorted cold sandwiches, hot Stromboli’s and spicy boneless Buffalo wings are also on the menu.  Each catered event brings personalized, face-to-face service and a variety of delicious, affordable foods that are perfect for your upcoming holiday party.  Sam & Louie’s gives you more time to entertain clients, celebrate the year with your employees or enjoy time at home with family and friends.”

Unique Gift Ideas for Everyone on Your List

gerry phelan midwest woodworkers omaha nebraskaWhen shopping for gifts this holiday season, consider what will be the most meaningful and memorable to those on your list.  Giving someone the opportunity to learn a new skill that they can use over the course of their lifetime is a priceless gift.  If someone on your gift list is creative and enjoys working with their hands, a woodworking class is a fantastic choice.  Gerry Phelan of Midwest Woodworkers says, “We offer ‘hands-on’ classes that even folks who’ve never tried it before can excel in.  In most classes, participants complete a project like a pen, a turned bowl, a carved figurine or even a nightstand right in class.  And it’s not just for guys.  We are seeing more and more women getting into woodworking.  A gift certificate for a class is also an easy and fun way to try woodworking.  Bring out the inner artist in that special person by getting them involved in woodworking.  Check our website for a complete description of all of our classes.  I encourage everyone to give the gift of creativity this year–the benefits will last a lifetime.” Gerry also speaks to the importance of shopping locally for gifts.  “It makes a great deal of sense to shop locally for your holiday gifts. Your local stores offer diversity and service you just won’t find online.  Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know their customers.  At Midwest Woodworkers, we work hard to help our customers be the best woodworkers. Whether that is advice on completing a project, help with a problem or information on tools and supplies, we have years of experience in woodworking ourselves and we are happy to share.  Furthermore as a bonus, your purchases support your community.”  The staff at Midwest Woodworkers are ready to help you find the right tools to tackle any project this holiday season, and will be offering big savings on equipment on Black Friday.  They will also have in-store woodworking demonstrations going on all day and Dennis Zongker will be in the store promoting his new book, Wooden Boxes: Skill Building Techniques for Seven Unique Projects.

suzi bonnett chocolaterie stam omaha nebraskaIn 1913 Amsterdam, Jacobus Stam created Chocolaterie Stam, and 100 years later owners Suzi and Chad Bonnett invite you to enjoy the atmosphere of this unique European style chocolate shop which features pure, Belgian chocolates, European licorice, coffee drinks, and real Italian gelato made with ingredients from Italy and a local dairy.  Whether you are looking for that perfect gift for the hard-to-buy-for person or craving a nice treat in a relaxed setting, Chocolaterie Stam is the ideal place to visit.  Their heart-shaped boxes and Yule log boxes made totally from chocolate and filled with bonbons are beautiful and delicious table centerpieces that double as dessert and are great for gifts or holiday entertaining.  In addition to their wide range of chocolate items, Chocolaterie Stam offers seasonal flavors of gelato made right in the store and they welcome holiday dessert orders.  Suzi Bonnett of Chocolaterie Stam says, “We hand select several different sized gift boxes of our famous Belgian bonbons.  The petite two piece box is perfect for table favors or stocking stuffers, or our gorgeous two-layer jewel box is loaded with up to 32 pieces of Stam’s Belgium chocolate bonbons. There are many other box sizes to choose from and our customers have the option to choose what goes into each box.  We can put together some very impressive corporate gifts as well. Stam has the ability to print anything on top of a solid piece of chocolate. Corporate logos, season’s greetings, monograms, or pictures are beautifully included in a box full of our pure Belgian bonbons. These specially branded treats are also perfect for the office holiday party dessert platters.” She adds, “Special orders are common at this time of year and Chocolaterie Stam takes particular care to assist our customers with their holiday gift shopping.  We offer ideas on gift box sizes, will store the chocolate purchases here in our climate controlled shop until the client is ready to pick up the product, or we can deliver locally.  High quality service and individual attention is what one can expect during a visit to Chocolaterie Stam.  Our products, including the chocolate, gelato, and coffees, are unique in that they can only be found in a Chocolaterie Stam store; not in every grocery and convenience store in the country.  Especially when dealing with a perishable product such as chocolate, shopping locally has the benefit of product freshness plus you are sure to find an exclusive gift meant especially for that tricky person on your list.  When selecting food items such as chocolates, it is helpful to know both the favorites and also the flavors to avoid, especially if there are food allergies involved.  We have an allergens list at Chocolaterie Stam to help with the selection process. Our pure Belgian chocolate has no wax or preservatives and 99% of it is gluten free.  We are also available to make suggestions about pairing wine and chocolates, and can help with quantity and shelf-life questions.”

megan goeke us cellular omaha nebraskaAs mobile technology is embedded in our lives, smartphones and tablets are at the top of many holiday wish lists and businesses continue to rely on technology each day. U.S. Cellular offers a variety of devices for small and medium businesses. Megan Goeke of U.S. Cellular advises, “If you seek a smart holiday gift, keep in mind that 56% of American adults are smartphone owners, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Business owners may prefer smartphones with larger screens to make it easier to use email, social media and Skype with customers and business colleagues. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 features a 5.7-inch display and pairs with the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch via Bluetooth technology for quick and convenient access to notifications, S Voice and many other features. The Samsung Galaxy Mega has an even bigger screen at 6.3 inches. Both devices have an “Easy Mode” to help users have fast access to the features and apps they use the most.  Other business customers might prefer the stellar features of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet when it comes to a wireless holiday gift. Its integrated S Pen has the precision of a pen and control of a mouse, so note taking and emailing is a breeze. The Galaxy Note 10.1’s large screen is great for watching videos, which makes it an ideal device for work and play.  Cellphones and accessories provide numerous holiday gift options for a variety of budgets. After all, there will be more mobile devices on Earth than people by the end of this year, according to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update. Bluetooth headsets, car chargers and cases make great gifts to help small and medium businesses stay connected through calls, emails, texts, video chatting and social media.  For under $50, you can give someone the peace of mind of a home phone with the U.S. Cellular Home Phone service. The device is free and easy to set up with any corded or cordless telephone. Small and medium businesses can access unlimited nationwide calling for $19.99 per month with no Internet connection required.”  She adds, “We will offer a variety of fantastic deals on many of our cutting-edge devices throughout the holiday season that will begin on Black Friday. Our associates are ready to help customers find the perfect gift during the holiday season, whether it be a new smartphone or a cool accessory for a great stocking stuffer. U.S. Cellular will also have extended store hours throughout the season.  We welcome you to visit a U.S. Cellular store during the holidays—not only to find the perfect gift but to learn more about our new Shared Data plans and how they can benefit your business and family!”

All That! Boutique and Gifts, located at 16909 Burke Street in Village Pointe South, offers a large selection of women’s clothing, jewelry and accessories that are perfect for holiday gift giving.  They also have an entire section in the store just for girls with fun and exciting merchandise that you can’t find anywhere else, as well as an infant area with lots of adorable products.  All That! Boutique is true to their name, as they also offer unique merchandise and customized options for home décor, sorority, seasonal items and stationary.  Krista Dickey of All That! Boutique and Gifts says, “We have a wide variety of interesting and unique gift ideas, including some that are made by individuals right here in Omaha.  You can conveniently shop for many different types of gifts in one place.  Check out our advertisement for our Small Business Saturday offer and take advantage of shopping early for everyone on your gift list.  Our regular store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 4 p.m. Our store holiday hours will be extended after Thanksgiving to 8 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and until 5 p.m. on Sundays. We will also have a Holiday Open House on Saturday, November 30th. We welcome everyone to stop in and visit us during the holidays to see what we have to offer…and prepared to be wowed!”

This holiday season we hope you give Omaha’s best resources a chance to enhance your entertaining, party, and gift giving experiences.  As November is a time we give thanks for everything that makes our lives wonderful, we are thankful for all of the local businesses that offer unique items and experiences that you just can’t find anywhere else! We wish everyone a wonderful holiday season filled with the company of loved ones, plenty of chances to entertain and celebrate, and all of the great parties and gifts that will undoubtedly make this year one to remember!