Holiday Planning 

It’s that time of year again! Even if you’re the type of person who won’t tolerate Jingle Bells until after Thanksgiving , it’s important to plan all of your events early, especially if you’re trying to juggle family and work activities. That’s why we’re kicking off this three-part holiday series by talking about what you can do to have a stress-free holiday season at work and at home.

The key to getting through the holiday season with ease is planning ahead. Even though it may seem early to some, you’ll thank yourself in a couple of months. It will also ensure that you can remain focused at work without having the details of your family’s holiday plans constantly on your mind.

If you’re wanting a fresh family photo to put on the Christmas card, October is a good time to get that knocked out. Find a photographer and give them a couple dates that work best for your whole family. Doing this all now will give you time to pick out outfits, take the photos, order them, and then lick, stamp, and address to all your loved ones!

Start taking inventory now of all your holiday decor. When pulling out the jack-o’-lanterns and scarecrows for your October decor, take a look at your Christmas supplies as well. Don’t spend any money on decorations, gifts, or wrapping paper when you don’t know what you have tucked away. Take stock of damaged and broken items so you have time to find replacements before the shelves get cleaned out at the store. It’s also smart to buy holiday items after the holidays when everything goes on sale—stock up for next year!

For businesses, when the holidays come around, one of the best things to do is to create a warm and inviting environment with a holiday display that really stands out. However, creating a memorable holiday display at the office, with set up and tear down factored in, can be time-consuming and difficult. This is where Ambius comes in.

Tiffany Falconer

“Ambius is an award-winning designer of holiday displays that take care of the design, installation, take down, and storage,” said Tiffany Falconer, district manager for Ambius in Omaha. “ We are your local holiday decor experts and have been designing and installing decorations for commercial businesses for over 25 years. Many of our professional Christmas decorators have completed hundreds of holiday design projects. They work with companies and organizations of all sizes, from extravagant displays for businesses with multiple locations to a simple hallway tree.”

Whether you are trying to create the perfect retail experience or just want a display for your building’s lobby, Ambius has a design consultant who can help.

From a simple display to an expansive design project, the holiday professionals at Ambius will be there for you throughout the season. Ambius holiday design services include but are not limited to:

  • Trees
  • Custom displays
  • Winter scenes
  • Poinsettias
  • Exterior decor
  • Wreaths, garlands, swags, and floral
  • Decorations for Hanukkah, Kwanza, Easter, etc.

Part of the magic of the holiday season is the ambiance, and a winter scene can play a big part. Ambius’ winter scene rental services allow you the opportunity to have an elaborate holiday display in your space without having to worry about storing decorations all year long. When a Christmas tree just isn’t enough, let Ambius bring in a scene that your employees and customers will not forget.

Not only will your own coworkers feel like their employer really cares, your brand will receive a boost because of the positive impression you’ll make on visitors and clients. Cheerful holiday displays have the ability to draw in customers and give your reputation a boost.

Now is also the time to start planning all of your holiday activities if you haven’t already. For businesses, it’s common to do a fun outing or office Christmas party. Things like venue and activities will vary based on the size of company you have. Large companies will likely want to rent out a venue that will fit all their employees and a plus-one. Companies also need to decide if they want this to be an elegant affair or more casual. Definitely set a date as early on as you can so everyone can mark their calendars and plan ahead. It’s likely that not everyone will be able to attend due to competing holiday events and travel plans, but setting a date way in advance will allow your staff to plan their activities accordingly.

Whether you’re in charge of planning something for your office or your family this holiday season, don’t forget to keep things simple as much as possible. Make a timeline and a list of tasks that must be done to make your party a success. Delegate some of the tasks to others. Remember, it’s the people that make the party. Forget trying to make everything perfect and just concentrate on helping everyone have fun. You don’t have to come up with all the activities yourself, either. There are places in Omaha that provide fun activities for you!

A popular destination for activities and party venues this time of year is Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch. There are so many things to see and do within Bellevue Berry’s 80 beautiful acres of trees and farmland. The ranch also has four indoor facilities of varying sizes that have outdoor areas with seating and fire pits. Bellevue Berry can accommodate a wide range of holiday party sizes, from small, intimate affairs to large gatherings with guest lists in the hundreds.

The ranch embraces all that the autumn season brings in the most natural way. Your group will enjoy all the fall foliage, 25 acres of pumpkins, the best hayrides around, and a ton of haunting stuff to discover leading up to Halloween. The haunted attractions at Bellevue Berry, when it becomes a “Ranch of Terror,” are open on Fridays and Saturdays from 6:30 to 11:30 p.m., and Sundays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. through October 31.

Into December, the ranch is decked out in Christmas lights and some of its own festive decor. Overall, this venue is an ideal destination for groups who are looking to have a fun, casual time. Whether it’s for a work outing or you go with your family, you’ll enjoy all the ranch has to offer. With campfire sites that can be rented out and hayrack rides to add a fun activity to the mix, groups get so much more than just a venue to gather inside of. It’s also a plus for many that Bellevue Berry is kid friendly, complete with play areas that are lit up at night, a corn maze, kids train ride, bounce pillow, and more. They also welcome pets! In addition, Bellevue Berry has many great food stands featuring their famous BBQ and sweet treats. The Pirates Pub is open on the weekends serving adult beverages, turkey legs, and more.

Holiday parties aren’t complete without good food and drinks, so you’ll be happy to know that Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch has great catering options and can offer drinks in each of their event barns. Bellevue Berry takes pride in their team’s culinary talent and use fresh ingredients, many of which are grown and raised on the farm.

Some smaller businesses, or companies that have the room for it, will choose to host their holiday party at their office. When it comes to making sure you have everything you need at your office to make a holiday party possible, Honeyman Rent-All has a large inventory of party items that can be rented. These items include chafers, chairs, tables, dance floors, event lighting, games, and more. With their large selection of linens, you can find tables cloths that match the colors of the holiday you’re celebrating. They even have a karaoke machine for some fun sing-alongs with coworkers.

It’s recommended to lock down catering right away when organizing an in-house event. The holidays are a busy time for restaurants and caterers, so don’t wait until the last minute to get the food you need to feed all your guests. This applies for all personal planning as well! If you’re responsible for preparing the holiday meal, take some of the pressure off yourself by getting certain things catered such as the dessert.

Michelle Kaiser
The Omaha Bakery

It’s no surprise that the phone at The Omaha Bakery is already ringing off the hook with holiday pie and treat orders! When we talked to the bakery’s owner, Michelle Kaiser, she told us that there is still time to place an order of one of their delicious, made-from-scratch holiday pies for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but hurry!

“As the holidays approach and we prepare for another new year, we hope you’ll think of us for cookie trays to share at the office, cinnamon rolls for those busy mornings, and pies to grace your tables as you gather with your families,” said Michelle. “When you’re out and about shopping and running errands, stop in for soup and a sandwich. Our hope is that when you spend time at The Omaha Bakery, you feel at ease, and when you leave you feel recharged. We not only want to nourish your body, we want to nourish your soul!”

“We have a variety of seasonal offerings and we can make an assortment of them for your special occasion,” Michelle added. “Mini pastries, mini mousse tartlets, mini coconut macaroons, bars, cheesecakes, brownies, bread puddings, and cannolis—all of these options will make the holidays a little sweeter!”

Michelle also encouraged our readers to stay healthy during the holidays without having to give up the sweet treats we all love. This is possible with the keto items that The Omaha Bakery features on its menu. Keto foods are high-fat, have adequate-protein, and are low-carb. The goal is to get more calories from protein and good fats than from carbohydrates. It works by depleting your body of its store of sugar, so it will start to break down protein and fat for energy, ultimately causing weight loss.

The holidays are known as being a time when people gather and eat a lot of food. This isn’t something that will likely change anytime soon, but we can help ourselves by integrating some healthy substitutes.

“We have started to regularly offer keto-friendly desserts that are gluten free, sugar free, and low carbohydrate, and we continue to add new keto treats to our offerings,” Michelle told us. “People are loving our keto pumpkin cinnamon rolls, loaves of keto Oneda Bread, and keto pumpkin chocolate chip muffins! All of these would make a great addition to a holiday spread.”

The Omaha Bakery has evolved over the years and is now a full-service bakery, deli, and tasting experience for any occasion. One thing that has been a mainstay is Michelle’s passion for people and her family-oriented approach to all things in business and in life.

If you’re looking to cater in some of your more traditional holiday foods, the Garden Cafe has what you’re looking for. With chicken fried steak, glazed ham, pot roast, fried chicken, roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and buttered corn as some of the choices, Garden Cafe can take care of all the cooking while you focus on other party planning details. You can 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! The Garden Cafe in Rockbrook Village has been an Omaha tradition since 1985.

There is no rule that you have to have the traditional holiday fare for your occasion, though. Mix things up with Cajun cuisine from Acadian Grille! Offering catering, Acadian Grille specializes in authentic, made-from-scratch Cajun food. From gator bites, crab cakes, shrimp and grits, traditional gumbo, and crawfish to homemade dressings and desserts, Acadian Grille can really add some flavor to your holiday.

Dan O’Brien
Acadian Grille

“We are ready to celebrate the holidays with you here at Acadian Grille,” said Owner Dan O’Brien. “Not every business can afford to rent out an entire venue for their holiday party or do something elaborate, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do something special. The holidays are all about coming together and being grateful for what we have. Meals are great at bringing people together, and it’s hard not to have a jolly time when enjoying delicious soul food!”

The holidays are also about giving, which means it’s also a time for spending money. Help take the stress out of the holiday season by creating and sticking to a holiday budget. Begin by making a list of all of your expected holiday expenses, such as traveling expenses, gift exchanges at work, and charitable donations. This will give you a basic idea of things that you will need to pay for in addition to gifts. Many people only think about the gifts and wonder why money is so tight in December, but that’s because they didn’t think about all the other extra expenses the holiday season brings.

Set a spending limit for yourself and then stick to it! Knowing how much you have to spend on each gift will help you narrow down ideas before you shop. Then, make a shopping list with one or two gift ideas in mind for each individual you plan on gifting. As you begin to purchase gifts and spend money, be sure to subtract the amount from your running Christmas budget total. This will let you know how well you are sticking to your budget.

Other good holiday budgeting tips include:

  • Don’t put gift purchases on a credit card. It makes it easier to overspend.
  • Add some generic gifts to your shopping list in case you realize you forgot to buy something for someone. That way you don’t have to make an extra trip to the mall or scramble last minute.
  • Be upfront about a spending limit with groups you’re a part of that want to do a gift exchange like Secret Santa.
  • Take advantage of Black Friday sales.

You may be tempted to do a lot of your holiday shopping online. This is understandable as there are probably a lot of good deals and you can get a lot done quicker, but don’t forget how important it is to support local businesses! There are so many shops and vendors in Omaha that sell items that would make amazing gifts.

With R.U. Nuts Co., you can give the gift of delicious coffee and gourmet nuts, chocolate, candy, trail mixes, snacks, dried fruit, seeds, grains, and beans! R.U. Nuts, a family-owned company, began small batch roasting and called it Ahroma Specialty Coffee. Ahroma roasts delicious and dense “specialty grade” coffee beans in small batches, blending signature and house blends to match whatever profile of flavor you desire. They have over a hundred blends and flavors available to be paired with top brand names that they carry like Big Train, Torani, Monin, and many more.

Good coffee is something every office should have as a perk for the entire staff, but it’s especially good to have around when entertaining guests and clients. During the chilly holiday months ahead, you’re likely to go through coffee pretty quick! Make sure you stock up. You can purchase whole bean or coffee grounds by 8oz, 1lb, or 5lb. R.U. Nuts also sells frappuccino, chai, and cider powder, fruit smoothie mix, cocoa, Italian syrups and sauces, and much more. Order some for your office or your next event!

Charlotte Ralston - R U Nuts

Charlotte Ralston
R U Nuts & Ahroma
Specialty Coffee

“No celebration is complete without snacks!” Charlotte Ralston, owner of R.U. Nuts, exclaimed. “Let us help you put together a combination of delicious chocolate, gourmet trail mixes, nuts, and freshly roasted coffee for your next event! Use our stackable tubs or fun food-filled baskets for a centerpiece. Great for an office party, client gift, or holiday family gathering, our gift baskets have something that everyone will enjoy. We can include your promotional item, company mug, or other items you provide. Your name is your most important asset, so we can customize any label with YOUR name.”

Also, don’t forget that gifting a shared experience is just as special as something that can be wrapped and put under the Christmas tree. A gift idea for a group of friends is treating them to a spa day! Creative Hair Design Salon & Spa offers special group packages that will allow you to experience their full range of hair, skin care, body care, and nail services. Not only would this make for a great gift, it’s also a time for you to relax your mind and body and enjoy yourself. These are important things to do in the midst of all the hustle and bustle!

At Creative Hair Design, all spa services are offered on their luxurious second floor spa in comfortable, private rooms. A spa coordinator will work directly with you to ensure that you have the most pleasant experience possible. For optimal results, book as far in advance as possible (6–8 weeks beforehand is recommended).

It might seem silly to “pencil in” time for yourself, but as you are making your holiday lists, decluttering the basement, purchasing decorations, and coordinating with your family, you may find that free time is hard to come by. It’s important to take care of yourself, body and mind.

On that note, another great way to avoid stress this holiday season is knowing how to say no. In your social life, you may find yourself invited to various holiday dinners and parties, but you don’t have to attend them all. Keep your budget in mind and your workload. It’s okay to nicely decline commitments that are not high on your holiday goals list so you can focus your time and energy on the things you really value this holiday season.

By making some positive steps toward getting your holiday plans and needs in order now, you can spend more time enjoying family and friends when the season actually arrives!