Holiday Planning in Omaha, NE 2017

Hey there holidays, you’re finally here! With so much to do and so little time, it’s completely normal to feel stressed when you’re being pulled in so many directions and working within a jam-packed schedule. Still, it’s all worth it when you finally get to spend time celebrating with loved ones and others who are an important part of your life and partaking in all of the traditions you hold dear. In the season of giving, it’s also a great feeling to deliver that perfect gift – to all of the people on your list, towards a charitable cause, whatever the case may be.
So, here’s a little encouragement to keep you going – you’ve got this, and our local businesses are ready and willing to help you out with any and all of your holiday needs!

Holiday Gatherings – Let The Festivities Begin!

Your plans for the holiday season ahead likely include a number of different events that qualify as holiday gatherings. There’s a good chance you might be hosting in addition to attending, both of which requiring effort on your part to a varying degree. Either way, prior to the big events, there are of course the plans that will need to be made, and then the things to check off of your to-do list. There’s also the spur of the moment things to keep in mind just in case things don’t necessarily go according to plan, or during holidays in general, that don’t necessarily need to be arranged much in advance, if at all. Having options, and a backup plan, is an easy way to turn a holiday crisis into a great story that’s told for years to come – just reference any of the classic holiday movies, and you probably have some of your own already too.

Holiday Party Planning

If you’re still making arrangements for a holiday party, there are still excellent options with availability in the next few months, although it’s going to be limited at this point. If you’re willing to be flexible on certain things, our local hospitality professionals and event planners can still deliver a magical, memorable holiday event.

When it comes to holiday parties, downtown Omaha’s newest full-service hotel and its team are ready to impress!

At the Omaha Marriott Downtown – Capitol District, each “Next Gen” meeting and event space includes a flexible set-up. With the ability to adapt to a variety of formats and group sizes with pivoting walls, moveable partitions, soft seating and modular furniture, it naturally creates a luxurious atmosphere that can be further enhanced with party décor if you like. Additional outdoor event spaces, including an ice skating rink in the Capital District, and the hotel’s 10,275-square-foot ballroom, one of the largest in Omaha, also allow for diverse and customizable holiday party options as far as the “where” goes.

Megan Gilligan-Omaha Marriott

Megan Gilligan
Omaha Marriott
Downtown Capitol District

“Our meetings team prides itself on the unique ideas and visions we have that push the creative boundaries of the hotel’s event space,” says Megan Gilligan of the Omaha Marriott Downtown Capitol District. “Our main goal is to ensure that guests have an unforgettable experience, taking holiday parties beyond the ordinary.”

The nice thing about having a wide variety of venues in and around the Omaha Metro is the vast options available for hosting parties of any sort. There’s certainly no shortage to explore, that’s for sure. Sometimes you don’t even have to plan much at all to still come through with an amazing event!

Take Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm for example, which has announced a unique event they’ll be presenting this year. Scott Ensor with Lied Lodge & Conference Center explains, “We’ll be hosting a Small Office Holiday Party on December 16 for businesses and groups that may not have the ability to host an office party on their own.

Scott Ensor-Lied Lodge

Scott Ensor
Lied Lodge & Conference Center

The event includes reserved seating, a ballroom decked out in holiday décor, a holiday-themed menu including our popular prime rib buffet, live entertainment, and overnight accommodations.” He adds, “Our team of professionals do a terrific job working with both individuals and businesses to plan and host a variety of gatherings from office Christmas parties to family reunions. My advice is to take advantage of their expertise! It’ll give you the opportunity to sit back and relax with those important to you.”

Home for the Holidays

This year, you might be traveling in town to your destination or hosting the family at your house. Or, you might find yourself in the droves of people who are traveling by plane, train, bus, or automobile to their holiday gatherings.

Many will descend upon the Omaha metropolitan area to join their family and friends to celebrate the holidays. It’s a time when we get to see our loved ones who live all over the United States and even overseas, and we also have the pleasure of running into many friends and acquaintances who are in town visiting their loved ones. After all, there’s no place like home for the holidays.

Some will stay in the homes of parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, or other family members, while for others, it’s easiest to book a hotel room. For those who are looking into the latter, selecting a hotel will depend on a variety of things. You might want to find one that’s close to where everyone will be meeting up to spend time, or you might want to stay close to where there is a lot to see and do while you’re not at family gatherings.

As previously mentioned, the new Omaha Marriott Downtown in the Capitol District just opened, so it’s in a prime location with plenty of action to be found within walking distance. Alternatively, featuring brand new signature restaurant and bar concepts in the hotel, it’s got the amenities to enjoy without even having to leave except to go to family events. Or, you could certainly have family join you there for the evening and all go out together! The hotel sparkles with holiday charm and the area surrounding the hotel comes alive during the holiday season, making it a fun and festive area for travelers to take in during their stay in Omaha.

While you’ll likely spend a significant amount of time in the homes of family and friends, as previously mentioned, it’s always fun to get out and go do something together. Catching a movie, grabbing a few drinks at a local bar, enjoying a meal out at your favorite restaurant, going ice skating – these are all family-friendly and so much fun to do together as a group (or if just a few of you need to take a little break from the group…it’s OK, we’ve all been there.).

For a movie theatre experience like none other, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is the place to go. It’s fun for the whole family, or for the adults-only night out. Particularly with the neighboring Liquid Sunshine Taproom conveniently neighboring the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, you can grab drinks before and after, and even be served dinner or snacks and drinks at your seats during – it’s the complete package!

Derek Dillon-Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Derek Dillon
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

“Around the Thanksgiving holiday and throughout December is a great time to head to the movies with your family,” says Derek Dillon with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. “We will also be hosting several of our signature Movie Parties. This includes Planes, Trains & Automobiles on November 20th and The Princess Bride on November 22nd. Either of which would be a lot of fun to enjoy with your loved ones. Many are excited about the new Justice League film that comes out on November 17, so we expect that to be a popular one, and Thor: Ragnarok will probably still be at our theater for those who haven’t found the time to see it yet. We have a number of other film events this month that we’ll be announcing, so make sure to stay tuned!”

Another local favorite that’s stunning when completely decked out during the holidays is Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm. Talk about a way to impress your guests from out of town! It’s also fun for the whole family, a lovely retreat for couples, and a great place to gather with close friends. If this place doesn’t get you into the holiday spirit, not much else will!

“Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm is a perfect location for the holidays,” says Scott Ensor with Lied Lodge. “Many guests come year after year to experience our Grand Thanksgiving Buffet in the Timber Dining Room. We also offer a fun array of winter activities throughout the season that are popular including the Holiday Trolley Tour of Lights, Christmas at the Mansion, and Brunch with Santa.”

All destinations considered, there are so many options for great places to gather locally, and our restaurants and bars here in the Omaha Metro are among the most popular. With such a diverse array of dining and entertainment options, if your guests from out of town want to experience the city, a night out on the town is the way to go. Dining, drinking, both – there’s a venue to fit any mood, whether you’re looking for a low-key spot to relax and unwind, a vibrant place to celebrate, or a wild night filled with music, dancing and champagne toasts.

With so much holiday cheer, the “morning afte r” can sometimes be pretty rough on everyone. Have family in from out of town and not feeling up to everything that goes into preparing and serving breakfast or lunch at home? No problem, dine out! In fact, when traveling it’s always nice to try something new that you can’t find at home.

Hosting Duties & Details

For those who are hosting the family gathering in their homes this year, you’ve probably got your work cut out for you. With so much to do to prepare, while you might feel like you’ve got a good handle on everything, there’s always something that inevitably gets forgotten.

Then there are the larger holiday parties that you might plan to host, whether in your home or another location out on the town.

Preparing for both types of occasions can involve the same local professionals to an extent. If you find someone you really like working with, why not use them for any of your holiday event needs, and on throughout the year too?

When it comes to the holiday meal itself, traditionally speaking it’s the turkey that’s the star of the show. However, it could be ham or prime rib, both of which are also appropriate – and delicious too! All told, your holiday meal can be whatever you want it to be, traditional or  otherwise. Then there’s everything else that goes along with the entire spread, from the meat and cheese trays to the cookies and pies and all of the sides in between. Decisions, decisions.

Sean Fuller-Just Good Meat

Sean Fuller
Just Good Meat

With so many choices available at Just Good Meat, you can get it all in one place and have plenty of time left over for everything else you’ve got going on during the holidays! “Providing our customers with the highest-quality meats and side dishes or appetizer spreads for their holiday dinners and parties is our specialty this time of year, and we absolutely love it,” says Sean Fuller with Just Good Meat. “While our farm fresh and smoked turkeys are in high demand this month and next, we always have a wide variety of meats to choose from including bone-in turkey breasts, stuffed chicken breasts, bone-in or boneless old-fashioned, dry-cured ham, smoked prime rib, aged 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 and twice-baked potatoes to sage stuffing with sausage mixed in, all the way down to rolls and desserts. Then there’s the abundance of options for appetizers, with BBQ smokies, all-beef Italian meatballs, an assortment of summer sausage in different flavors, and a HUGE variety of cheeses. Among the selection of cheeses, many are farm to table, including the Dimock brand fresh out of South Dakota, Jisas Farmstead Cheese made here in Nebraska, and of course, the well-known Wisconsin cheeses.

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 anytime 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 or gatherings, 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.”

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!

The spirits and refreshments are also a must for your holiday soirees, whether you’re pairing them with a meal, having a big party, or just for everyone’s enjoyment while spending time with close family and friends you’ve invited over. You’ll find an amazing selection to choose from at Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal.

Jim Sobczyk-Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal

Jim Sobczyk
Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal

“For larger gatherings in particular, knowing what to serve and the exact quantities can be quite the dilemma,” says Jim Sobczyk with Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal. “Let our experienced staff help you decide on the best option(s) for beverage offerings as well as the proportion of beer, wine, liquor, punch and/or soft drinks needed for the number of guests while also staying within your budget.”

In addition to carrying all of the classic party favorites, at Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal you’ll have convenient access to party goods such as tableware and even professional bartenders 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.

Then there are the practical aspects of your home (or office) that play an important role during the holidays. Safety is important when dealing with things you’d commonly find during a holiday season full of festivities, such as those impressive displays of lights or a countertop full of crock-pots, where you’ll want to be smart and exercise caution. While it might be funny when it’s in a movie, because hey, it’s Clark Griswold, having an electrical mishap to deal with is certainly no laughing matter in real life.

As for the crock-pots, you could always consider having each of your outlets in the kitchen wired to its very own dedicated circuit. Or, just play it safe and try to space them out to different outlets as opposed to configuring any sort of extension cord extravaganza.

As far as décor and ambiance go, holiday lighting is major. If you’re making an investment in lighting within your home of the non-holiday variety based on the potential of hosting guests at some point or for a planned event, you may as well enjoy it all season long, right? There are beautiful and functional options to consider that also are energy efficient.

Speaking of which, with the holiday lights, using ones with LED technology greatly reduces the load on your circuits. Another way to save energy would be to install timers to turn on and off your decorations. Or, you might even consider having switched outlets installed in the overhangs so you can easily turn on and off the decorations with an interior switch!

When assessing what you need for décor in general along with the other entertaining essentials and where you’ll go to find those items, keep in mind that rental may be more advantageous than purchasing outright in some instances. How many times will you really be hosting a house full of people? Let that answer guide whether buying or renting is the best option for you. 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. It will also save you the storage space!

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 at under the Party Rentals tab. The 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!

Holiday Gift Giving – Make Your List & Check It Twice!

There’s nothing like finding the perfect gifts to give, and then presenting them with pride, to make one’s heart full. There are many wonderful people who might find their way onto your list this year – family, friends, neighbors, bosses, coworkers, clients, patrons, all of your favorite service providers, and so on. Let’s just say we all have our work cut out for us. Here are a few ideas to consider that can be found locally, because during the time of the year where we’re spending a significant amount of money, our dollars can do so much more if we spend them at the businesses here in our community!

“I believe giving the gift of an experience can have an impact on someone that can last a lifetime! What better way to spend quality time with those you care about then by sharing a memorable experience along the way. I highly recommend our spa services and any of the nature-inspired gifts available at one of our three gift shops.”  – Scott Ensor, Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm

Gerry Phelan-Greater Omaha SCORE

Gerry Phelan
Greater Omaha SCORE

“Woodcraft is like a candy store for woodworkers. We carry the best in woodworking supplies, equipment, and exotic wood that you won’t find anywhere else. While we’re not for everyone, if you have a woodworker on your holiday gift list, we should talk. 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.

We’ve had gift buyers who purchase equipment for their favorite woodworker, but more often we look for special items to enhance their workshops. As part of the Woodcraft family, we now have access to a vast selection of woodworking products. We have tools and supplies that will fit your budget and delight your woodworker. Before I had the store I used to tell my family that a perfect gift would be to just get me a piece of exotic wood. 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.

If you want a gift that keeps on giving, consider a certificate for a woodworking class. Our classes provide an opportunity to unleash that inner creativity and enjoy the pure satisfaction that comes with making something with your own hands. Whether they are new to woodworking or a veteran, there is always something to learn. And this isn’t a lecture about woodworking – in most classes, they will make a project in class that they can take home. A class is a great gift that will last long after the holidays. And you can make it even better by taking the class with them. What a great gift – learning something new and sharing the experience.

Or you might consider making a gift yourself. We have project kits and supplies to help you get started. Use your skills to make a unique gift that money can’t buy.

The people who seem to already have everything don’t leave us with a lot of choices when it comes to gift giving. The key to finding the perfect present for them is to uncover the things they would not buy for themselves. That may seem daunting, but if you know the person well you can figure it out. The best part is that price matters much less for those kinds of gifts. The value comes from your thoughtfulness. Just be sure that the gift you give is something they would like rather than something you would want to receive. As previously mentioned, another approach is to give them an experience rather than things. The memories will last far longer than clothes or a gadget.

Make sure to watch for our big Black Friday sale. We’ll have awesome deals on great woodworking equipment and supplies. Stop in! While all the craziness is going on in the malls you can enjoy peace and the smell of sawdust at Woodcraft!” – Gerry Phelan, Woodcraft

“Our gift cards are popular gift items during the holidays. Treating others to a fun night out at the movies, and the full-service theatre experience we have to offer where you can also enjoy dinner and drinks, is a pretty great gift if you ask me! While you’re out enjoying yourself and taking in a movie at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, why not get some gift shopping done at the same time? Or just stop in for a few minutes and grab what you need – we’re here to help!” – Derek Dillon, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

“We’ve got options that will please anyone on your holiday shopping list. Our gift boxes come in different assortments of our best cuts of steak, and a few with different variations of pork chops. There are filets, New York strips, ribeyes, Porterhouses, T-bones, sirloins, bacon-wrapped steaks, thick-cut and boneless chops, take your pick! With the specials we run during the holidays, it’s even more of an exceptional value than you’d find throughout the rest of the year. During the holiday season, we also offer special promotions for corporate gift giving, and we’re happy to provide suggestions. Aside from the gift boxes, one of our more popular options is purchasing fresh or frozen turkeys or hams to give to employees just in time for their holiday dinners. It’s a really nice gesture and something that your employees can enjoy with their families. There’s an abundance of options, so I’d highly recommend giving us a call or checking out our website to see what we have to offer!” – Sean Fuller, Just Good Meat

With much to do to prepare for the holidays, and the flurry of activity that will ensue over the next couple of months, it’s wise to enlist the help of our local professionals. There’s no better feeling than having everything handled masterfully, which also allows you to enjoy the special moments throughout. We wish you all well – let the holiday madness commence and may it be an incredible season full of blessings!