The holidays are here!  You might not be as ready for the holiday season as you’d hoped, but there’s still plenty of time to get your affairs in order and also plenty of fun to be had in the details.  November is a great time to kick things into high gear and get as much of the details handled as possible so that you have plenty of time to enjoy yourself and the company of others!

Creating Your Own Unique Holiday Event

Holiday parties are a special treat, whether you are hosting your friends and family or employees and clients.  Especially in the corporate world, all business owners know that attracting new talent and keeping experienced workers is significant to their overall successful growth.  Some of the best businesses to work for are recognized by the perks they give their employees; and in turn these perks create loyal and happy workers.  The holidays are a great time of the year to show your employees your appreciation for their hard work.

By choosing to host your holiday event at a unique facility it allows you to create a lasting memory for your colleagues or staff.

Photo_Amanda_Duensing_The_V_Entertainment_Omaha_Nebraska“At The V Entertainment, we specialize in unique events that feature ‘fun’ at the center of everything, which truly does allow your group to walk away thinking ‘that was a great party!’” says Amanda Duensing of The V Entertainment. “People are always looking to move away from the more formal type of event into something where guests can have fun and interact with each other. We have a lot of groups that are asking to create more of a ‘team building’ style event where we put together fun competitions like Laser Tag or Bowling tournaments. It’s a great way to get everyone mixing and mingling and of course having fun!  The V features 16 main bowling lanes, a private lounge with four private bowling lanes along with pool and shuffleboard, a gaming area with over 70+ arcade and ticketed games, attractions like Laser Tag and Atomic Rush (interactive arcade game), and a full service restaurant. There is something for every style of group!”

She advises, “Food is a big part of the event that should always be paid attention to because your guests walk away talking about it. We make all of our food fresh from scratch each day for our events to ensure that element is just as good as the entertainment and atmosphere. When planning holiday parties, I highly recommend asking your group what items they might be interested in having as a part of their event. Even a quick survey to your attendees of what a facility has to offer will give the planner a better idea of what items to incorporate into the event.  The V can create a custom package for any size of group, from six people up to 600. Facility buyouts are available as well so please contact the Sales office at (402) 255-3220 to inquire!”

Sam & Louie’s takes pride in offering easy and affordable catering services that are ideal for upcoming holiday gatherings and parties.  “Most people are realizing that Sam & Louie’s can actually save them money with our catering,” says Leah Parodi of Sam & Louie’s. “And they are also saving time, which sometimes can mean more to them than saving money.  With so much going on from Halloween all the way through New Year’s Day, it is easy to forget the small details.  We have a catering manager on staff to help make sure all of the details for each of our events are covered and that nothing is forgotten. Our party rooms are the perfect place to hold a holiday party for your business as well as for your family or friends.  We do everything—cook, clean and serve—you just show and up and enjoy!”

She adds, “Sometimes the smallest details can really make a party great.  With respect to planning, it’s just as important to have fun, relax, and enjoy yourself as it is to make sure everything is covered.  You work hard all year and entertaining should bring you as much joy and entertainment as it does for your guests.  Our catering services give our clients that peace of mind in knowing that they do not have to cook and serve.  We will do that for them, whether it’s catering in a home, office, or in one of our party rooms.  In addition to our reasonable prices, we deliver and set up at no extra charge.  We have appetizers, lots of buffet dinner options, and of course, cannolis!  If you need bartending services, we can even make arrangements for that as well. And for party favors or holiday gifts, don’t forget about our Holiday Gift Cards, which are back this year by popular demand.  For many pizza would be considered the perfect present, and we are also offering a special—buy $40 and you get $10 to share or keep for yourself!”

Photo_Marcus_Powers_Zipline_Brewing_Co_Lincoln_NebraskaNo holiday party is complete without a good variety of libations, and with a dozen different beers offered by local favorite Zipline Brewing Company, there’s a beer on tap for everyone! “Zipline is a popular venue for private parties under 125 people, says Marcus Powers of Zipline Brewing Co. “In addition, we now have a private conference room for rental by small groups.  The conference room can be used for company retreats, business meetings, or just a space to bring in catered food to have your own oasis within Zipline’s taproom.  Having a party somewhere else?  Zipline also sells 5 and 15.5 gallon kegs for private parties straight from the taproom.  A 5 gallon keg provides 50 twelve ounce servings, and 15.5 gallon kegs provide 150 twelve ounce servings.  This is a great way to save money within your holiday party budget, as you can pour our ever-popular Copper Alt for as low as $0.85 per glass!”

He adds, “We also offer many goodies in our taproom for holiday gifts. On the dry side, we have t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and rustic wood mounted bottle openers. There are liquid goodies as well with glass and stainless steel growlers available with ‘free fill’ cards for stocking stuffers. Our coveted Bourbon Barrel-Aged Barleywine will release in November in 750 mL bottles. Can’t decide what to get? By popular demand, this is the first year we are offering an all-inclusive gift card that provides the ultimate flexibility.”

Photo_Matt_Cover_The_Margarita_Man_Omaha_NebraskaIf margaritas are your holiday party beverage of choice, Margarita Man has you covered!  “With Margarita Man delivering, setting up and cleaning the machines there is no easier or better way to serve drinks,” says Matt Cover, owner of the local Margarita Man franchise. “We offer 22 different flavors in which can be combined and or altered with different liquor giving more than 90 different recipes for any and all holiday parties. Also, with a little food coloring you can make any of our drinks into a special holiday drink to go along with the party theme. There’s nothing easier than having a frozen beverage machine during your party because it’s always ready to self-serve by simply pulling down the handle. While frozen beverages are always popular on a hot day, in my opinion they are always more convenient, even during the winter. You don’t ever have to worry about your ice melting, making your drink taste watered down– frozen beverages stay colder longer and will never taste watered down because our machines do not take any ice to operate. Less hassle plus more drinks served equals more fun!”

Photo_Beth_Howie_Maui_Wowi_Omaha_NebraskaSmoothies are another popular party treat as they are simple, fun, can be made with dietary restrictions in mind, and most importantly, they are delicious!  Adding a unique, festive touch to your holiday party is as easy as bringing your guests a Hawaiian experience in the middle of the winter.  Beth Howie of Maui Wowi adds, “Just as ‘Christmas in July’ is fun, ‘July at Christmas’ is equally exciting. It makes you forget about the snow and cold.  My company brings a tropical flare to any holiday party with the Tiki Hut that I serve the drinks from.  I even top off each drink with a parasol so partygoers feel like they are sitting on a warm beach!”

“The great thing about offering something unique, whether for your holiday parties or gifts, is that it sets you apart,” adds Faith Musil of Smallcakes: A Cupcakery. “There are many creative things you can do over the holidays to achieve this goal:  summer in the winter parties, ugly sweater contests, incorporating your favorite holiday movie as your party theme, and so on.  Smallcakes will be featuring several new, festive cupcake varieties over the holidays–apple, pecan, and egg nog to just name a few! We will also offer pumpkin rolls, mini pies and more delicious surprises to come! For those who are planning holiday parties this year, my advice is to get started early.  I think waiting too late to have this type of event completely organized is the biggest problem that people run into and then the scramble begins. Holiday party planning also offers a great opportunity to allow staff to step up, which can be incredibly helpful as well as enjoyable for all. Consider forming a party committee and let your staff be involved with the developing process.  Most importantly, just remember to have fun.  Also, keep in mind that the holidays are the best time of year to give back to your community! Sponsor a child for Christmas, donate a thanksgiving meal to a needy family, donate winter jackets…there is always more we can do for others in the spirit of the season.”

Should the venue not supply certain party set-up needs, 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.  Troy Honeyman, owner of Honeyman Rent-All, explains, “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.”

Photo_Linda_Smith_Smiths_Superior_Pet_Care_Omaha_NebraskaWith all of the holiday parties, gatherings, events, and special visitors during the next few months, it is important to consider making holiday plans for your pets too. “As humans go into high gear preparing for and enjoying the holidays, our excitement often translates into anxiety for our pets, says Linda Smith, owner of Smith’s Superior Pet Care. “They don’t understand the decorating, extended absences as we rush around buying gifts, packages arriving, wrapping taking place, etc. etc. Not to mention often an influx of people they don’t know. Routine is critical to pets’ health and wellbeing.

Holiday visits carry higher human energy levels than typical casual visits and your pets will pick up on that. Cats often retreat to a quieter place in the house, but many dogs simply add to the chaos of arrivals. Your dog is more likely to behave when it has had a nice long walk. It often smoothes over any arrivals if the dog is out walking and comes home tired after everyone has arrived and greeting each other is over. Your guests and dogs will have a better time than if the dog is locked away where it barks, howls or scratches to be let out.

It is also important to be mindful of where you or your guests set down gifts, especially gifts containing food. Even packaged food may entice your dog to maul a box placed under the tree or in another accessible place. Likewise, a gift poinsettia or mistletoe that is hung but falls can be poisonous to your pets.”

She adds, “Having someone take your dog out for an hour or two while you are cleaning and prepping for the party will remove a lot of anxiety for your dog and will keep him/her out from under your feet at the same time. Even during gift wrapping, cooking and cleaning, a dog out for a long walk in the neighborhood or the park will come back much more relaxed than one that has been experiencing tension and turmoil at home—and you’ll be able to give full attention to your preparations and be in a calmer state of mind to enjoy your pet when he/she comes back into the house.”

Finding Unique Holiday Gifts For Everyone On Your List

Whether your list is short enough to cover immediate family and a few friends or extends on to everyone you know; all you need to know is the “who” and the rest is easier than you may think.  Omaha is full of wonderful local businesses that offer a wide variety of unique gifts, and not only that, offer excellent customer service and go above and beyond to make your experience easy, enjoyable and hassle-free.

Here’s a run-down of some unique gift ideas that might be the perfect fit for someone on your list:

Sweets & Treats:

Holiday treats are great as gifts or to provide for your guests at parties, events and gatherings.  The variety of products that can be found in Omaha, as well as the ability to customize these items, is what makes it twice as nice!  From ready-made treats to ordering a unique assembly of items for a party tray or dessert buffet; there’s too much available to go wrong!

Together, Colby Ridge Popcorn & Gifts and Colby’s Candy cover the sweet and salty bases and offer delicious holiday treats in a rainbow of colors and a wide variety of presentation options.

Colby Ridge’s signature popcorn flavors can be purchased ready-made or customized for family, friends, clients, or employees.  Color labels can be printed for individual bags of popcorn and you have the option to include your logo, graphics, text, and colors of choice in order to create a one-of-a-kind gift—or just a really cool party favor!  Colby Ridge places a major emphasis on being extremely flexible, and the staff works directly with each client to customize products in just about any way you can think of—the possibilities are endless.

Why try just one flavor when there are so many to choose from?  Colby Ridge offers plenty of bag sizes for their popcorn, but as an extra bonus they have a wide selection of themed tins that are excellent for gift giving.  Among the favorites are the classic holiday tins and sports team tins.  You can choose from a huge assortment of unique flavors you won’t find anywhere else—pick one or mix several!  Along with their classic white, caramel, cheese and kettle corn varieties, some great choices are cheesy jalapeno, tutti frutti, cinnamon, toffee nut, rainbow, and caramel apple.  When a Colby Ridge popcorn canister shows up, you can be sure nobody will leave disappointed!

Not a fan of popcorn?  Colby Ridge also offers individually hand-dipped chocolate covered potato chip tins, chocolate caramel corn cluster tins, or a five compartment mixture of their chocolate covered delicacies.  You could also consider a candy bar filled with a variety of Colby’s Candy for your upcoming office or holiday party!  With over 200 bins of colorful candy to choose from, you can match your party décor perfectly and custom orders are affordable, unique and festive!

Photo_Michelle_Kaiser_Alotta_Brownies_Omaha_NebraskaIf you’re looking for an easy way to impress anyone on your gift list, Alotta Brownies has put together an assortment of Gourmet Gift Boxes that are available at their kiosk in Oakview Mall.  These heavy two-piece boxes come complete with a festive ribbon and gift tag, as well as an assortment of fresh baked signature goodies from Alotta Brownies!  “In addition to our Gourmet Gift Boxes, we can also customize gifts for anyone on your list,” says Michelle Kaiser, owner of Alotta Brownies.  “No matter how big or small the request, we have such a wide variety of product and service offerings that it just comes down to what you like, what your needs are, and the date that you need your order completed.  The key is to get your order in as soon as possible, so you get exactly what you want and have the opportunity to incorporate personal touches and a little creativity too if you like.  We take pride in putting special touches on all of our products, and we’d be honored to assist you in treating those closest to you this holiday season!”

Hobbies & The Arts

Giving a handmade gift from the heart, classes that allow a person to let their creative juices flow or learn something new, or a unique gift that showcases your creative side is also something to consider when shopping for gifts this holiday season.  Furthermore, the chance to try out a new hobby is also a great gift itself!

Photo_Gerry_Phelan_Midwest_Woodworkers_Inc_Omaha_NebraskaGerry Phelan of Midwest Woodworkers explains, “When you are giving presents to people you care about be sure to find the gift that will delight them.  That will delight you in turn.  The key is to discover what they really want and make it happen.

We’ve had gift buyers who purchase equipment for their favorite woodworker, but more often we look for special items to enhance their workshops.  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.

Classes have been very popular as gifts.  They are fun, hands-on sessions where you don’t just talk about woodworking, you get to make something.  Can’t make evening classes?  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.  A gift certificate for a class is a great gift for beginner and more experienced woodworkers alike.”

He adds, “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.

Make sure to watch for our big Black Friday sale.  We’ll have great deals on awesome woodworking equipment, as well as 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!”

Giving the gift of an experience is a wonderful touch for the holidays, especially treating someone to a dose of the performing arts.

“When you give a gift certificate to The Rose, you give a child the gift of imagination!” says Kori Radloff of The Rose Theater. “Gift certificates are available in all denominations and can be used for show tickets and memberships, as well as drama and dance classes. The thing that makes a Rose Theater gift certificate extra special is that it is a gift that lasts well beyond the holiday season; students can enjoy weekly classes, take part in a summer theater camp or have their first theatrical experience.”

Radloff adds, “We are very excited to be bringing A Christmas Story: The Musical to Omaha for the very first time. This fun-filled adaptation of the beloved holiday movie brings all the classic laughs to life on stage. Experience the moment when Flick’s tongue gets stuck to a flagpole, when Dad receives his special award, Ralphie’s disastrous visit to Santa and more. There is something truly special about bringing your child to the theater, and The Rose is the perfect place to enjoy some time together as a family. Give your family the gift of a beautiful – and fun – memory, and bring your family together this holiday season at The Rose!”

Glitz & Glamour

Jewelry is one of the go-to gifts for the holiday season, as it is sure to dazzle and thoroughly impress the special recipient.  With an abundance of inventory arriving especially for the holidays, you are sure to find that special signature piece at Elder Jewelry.  Whether you are going to pop the question over the holidays and are looking for the perfect engagement ring, or seeking out something unique for those special people on your gift list, there are always plenty of exclusive deals at Elder Jewelry on select pieces of jewelry that you can’t find anywhere else.  Jewelry featuring colored stones has become increasingly popular this year–with many more options available than in years past, there’s a gorgeous array of hues and settings to choose from.  Additionally, watches make a great gift for both men and women and are 40% off during the holidays.   Make sure to stop by the store in Bellevue this holiday season for something special that sparkles and shines.

As most things in life, the holidays are only as complicated and stressful as you make them.  This year, try a smoother approach and utilize all of the wonderful local resources available for your party and gift needs—we guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results! As for those who already frequent our local businesses, carry on…but try out a few new ones in addition to your usual favorites while you’re at it.  We wish you all a wonderful month filled with successful holiday preparations and fun times at all of those early holiday events!  And for those of you out there who like to live life on the wild side, make sure to check out our last-minute holiday ideas in the December issue!