Holiday Planning in Omaha, NE 2017

Now that fall has arrived, hello holidays! Right about now, it’s wise to begin planning for the months ahead. As you’re all too familiar, they’re sure to fly right by and it can get hectic trying to accomplish everything later on down the line. Not to mention, with everyone else trying to do the same, one can easily run into problems with being able to book the desired venue and vendors for holiday parties or finding that perfect gift. It can be especially important to get things handled well ahead of time if what you’re hoping for is among the most popular or sought after in either category. So make your list now and maybe even check it once – then later on down the line when you’re checking it twice it will be SO nice!

{Fun Festivities!}

While it never hurts to plan ahead for just about anything you can think of that’s holiday-related, when it comes to getting everything in place for an upcoming holiday party, the sooner the better.

So, attention all party planners – novices, professionals, the “just this one time because I’ve been asked to help out” or “it sounds like fun” takers, and otherwise – have you started thinking about this year’s big holiday party yet? Chances are good that answer is a solid no for most, but not all. In actuality, there are a lot of local venues, particularly ones that are popular for this sort of thing, that already have events on the books from now until January/February. We all know that person who excels at planning, or the one who has been dreaming up ideas for the next amazing holiday affair since the day after last year’s. They’re out there, and so are the chronic procrastinators, and everyone in between.

No matter why type you are, it’s advantageous to get on it ASAP to avoid being stuck in a position with limited options. While that’s not always a bad thing, it’s also not ideal – better to get what you want than settle for taking what you can get, right? To kick off this year’s party planning, we’ve also consulted with a few local professionals who have plenty of tips and inspiration to offer.

There’s nothing like getting into the holiday spirit like watching holiday movies. While oftentimes this is done with family and friends, why not try it out for your next holiday party on a larger scale? At Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, not only can you watch one of your favorites on the big screen, but they offer a very special experience that’s perfect for large groups.

Derek Dillon-Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Derek Dillon
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

“Our patented movie parties are always popular around the holidays,” says Derek Dillon with Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Liquid Sunshine Taproom. “They’re consistently such a big hit with guests, and we can accommodate groups of all sizes. Choose from classics such as Elf, Christmas Vacation and Die Hard, and there are even fun options for interactive features that correspond with some of the movies.

Other possibilities include Holiday Pops Sing-Along, Grinch Bingo, Holiday Trivia, and TV Classics. We provide everything – costumed hosts, onscreen pre-show, and décor in the theater – so you can just relax and enjoy your event. Or, mix and match to create your Ultimate Holiday Party!

Aside from the entertainment, what’s a holiday party without great food and drinks? There are several different options we have to offer. To give your guests the complete Alamo Drafthouse experience, we can provide full food service from our menu. With this option, food can be purchased at the expense of either the host or guests. There are also buffet packages for those with 25+ guests. The buffet is set up in the theater and made available throughout your event. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and appetizer buffets are available. You can even opt for plated custom service and do everything your way. With the assistance of our chefs, we’ll help you create the perfect dining experience for your event. Or, just go with the movie theatre staples, popcorn and fountain drinks, which is always a solid choice.

Bar services are also available, since we have a full bar featuring our signature cocktails, wine and beer, including a large selection of craft beers. We’ll arrange for a host tab or individual guest tabs, whatever you prefer.

Speaking of enjoying holiday spirits with one another, the Liquid Sunshine Taproom is a great place for guests to meet up beforehand or gather afterward to keep the party going. It’s nice because you don’t have to coordinate a meetup, and it’s a fun place to hang out.

In the spirit of the holidays, it’s also nice to offer a gift of some sort to your guests. Our gift cards are nice on their own or a perfect addition to gift bags, and also make a great raffle item.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we’d love to celebrate it with you. Contact us today so we can help you start planning for this year’s holiday party!”

Of course, there are also the exciting new movie releases around the holidays. Dillon caught us up to speed on what’s coming out this year, excitedly declaring, “The Last Jedi! Then there’s Alexander Payne’s new film Downsizing, Justice League, the remake of Jumanji, and A Bad Moms Christmas that we expect to be among the most popular.”

And there are even more gift possibilities too! “Especially for Star Wars fans, we’ll have merchandise available for sale at the box office or part of an advance ticket purchase that’s the perfect gift for any movie fan.”

For those who are seeking an experience that immerses everyone in the magic of the holidays, during the holiday season Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm decks its halls and treats its guests to an amazing experience. This is another ideal place to host a holiday party of any size, because it truly doesn’t get much more festive than a visit here.

Brenda McIntosh Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm - Headshot

Brenda McIntosh
Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm

“Throughout the holiday season, Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm offers many one-of-a-kind experiences that you could incorporate into your holiday party,” says Brenda McIntosh with Lied Lodge & Conference Center at Arbor Day Farm. “The Holiday Trolley Tour of Lights is a favorite year after year. Climb aboard Arbor Day Farm’s enclosed trolley for a one-hour tour of historic Nebraska City. Or there’s Christmas at the Mansion, an opportunity to tour the 52-room Morton Mansion at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park while enjoying holiday-themed displays, refreshments, holiday music, and vintage décor. Either choice offers something unique your guests will remember. If it’s not too cold, an evening bonfire during a beautiful snowfall complete with s’mores and Arbor Day Farm’s famous hot apple cider sets the perfect ambiance.

From guest rooms and conference spaces to the grand lobby, it’s so beautiful here during the holidays. Our venue is a perfect location to show your appreciation with a unique and inspiring holiday party. With everything we have to offer at Lied Lodge & Conference Center, we can help you plan all of the details within your budget and based on your group size and preferences. From the setting to the catering and entertainment, we’ll help you put together the most amazing event with plenty of holiday flair.”

Along with suggestions for the party, she also offers the following planning advice: “Choosing a date early is especially advantageous, as it gives your guests the opportunity to ‘save the date’ during a busy festive season. Since we also offer the added convenience of lodging on-site, guests can enjoy themselves and simply ‘take the elevator home’ at the end of the evening. Making these arrangements early to correspond with the date of your event is important because our guest rooms book up quickly.”

Another fun local venue to consider, and one that offers plenty of action with something for everyone to enjoy, is Papio Fun Park.

Margaret White-Papio Fun Park

Margaret White
Papio Fun Park

“Papio Fun Park provides a unique setting with activities for all ages,” says Margaret White with Papio Fun Park. “Adults can settle into a long conversation with friends and co-workers or get involved in playing laser tag or one of the many games on free play. The younger guests will be well entertained while the parents can select how active they wish to be.

Providing a setting that keeps everybody upbeat can be a major boost to enjoying the holiday event. An air hockey tournament or relaxing game of pool are fun, easy ways to get your guests involved. It keeps things exciting and keeps people moving around engaging with one another. In selecting your event site, you want to provide a setting that promotes inclusion of all of the employees and family members invited. The spouse who knows no one is more likely to get involved when there are activities, and it’s also great for staff who work in different areas and don’t know each other.

During the holidays our venue is festively decorated because we absolutely love hosting parties and events. In fact, we offer exclusive events each day throughout the mid-November to mid-January holiday party season, which is an added bonus of booking yours here. There’s even more special holiday fun to enjoy no matter which date you select!

For those planning this year’s holiday party, the first priority is your budget and location. The number of guests and possible menu will, of course, have an impact on the first two items of concern, but you can’t get very far in planning until you have these settled. There’s always a desire to have something early in December but everyone wants to schedule their events then and you can run into a lot of conflicts, be it other holiday parties or children’s school programs.

Then you can move on to planning for all of the special touches. We’ve seen it all, even Santa arriving with gifts for all the kids, so if you’re looking for ideas we’re happy to help you brainstorm. For the fare, outside catering food and beverage selections can provide an upscale slant to your event, or make it as casual as you desire with a potluck menu. Whether you are planning an event for just employees, inviting spouses or including the entire family, keep in mind what activities your location provides. Having fun food and drinks is a must, yes, but give consideration to what your guests will do to ‘party’ too. There’s nothing worse than going to a boring event where everyone just ‘talks shop.’”

When thinking about the very best things about the holidays that we look forward to each year, the fare is definitely one that comes to mind first. Whether it’s a party, family gathering, contribution to the spread at the office, thoughtful gift, or just taking an opportunity to treat yourself to your favorite festive dish or goodie, there’s a lot of eating delightful holiday delicacies going on.

In terms of planning ahead, which is what’s going on at this point in time, for holiday parties that will require a talented catering professional to help plan and execute your culinary vision, book yours as soon as possible. Just as with the venues, the best are the most sought after, and they only have so much availability.

You’ll need to be able to provide key details such as date and time, venue, budget, number of guests, and any dietary restrictions, and then from there, you’ll be presented with all of the possibilities for making it a special and enjoyable affair.

There are businesses that only do catering, and then there are the ones that do that and so much more. Either way, you’ll be in good hands, it just depends on how you plan to go about things. It is always nice to have plenty of options, though.

Sean Fuller-Just Good Meat

Sean Fuller
Just Good Meat

“When it comes to holiday party fare, we have just about any delicacy you’d associate with a holiday meal,” says Sean Fuller with Just Good Meat. “Aside from our impressive selection, our customers can choose whether they want to use our catering services, order everything for the meal and pick it up ready to serve, pick up items to prepare themselves for the party – there’s a lot of flexibility when working with us.

Meat is obviously our specialty so we have options galore. There’s pulled pork, smoked or marinated chicken breasts in many different flavors, sliced pork loin, Phillies, or meat and cheese trays with a wide variety of gourmet sausages and cheeses to choose from all the way up to fine dining fare such as farm-fresh turkeys, geese, capons, duck breasts, quail, old-fashioned dry cure ham, prime rib, and of course, any cut of steak imaginable.

We always run a holiday special on prime rib throughout the season, which is a nice alternative for those who are looking for a somewhat non-traditional holiday dinner. As there are plenty of parties to attend and holiday meals to enjoy, it also can be a refreshing change of pace. However, if you’re sticking to the classic turkey dinner, we offer the finest all-natural, locally-sourced turkeys and we can also smoke them for enhanced flavor.

There are so many more items available that I haven’t listed, and since we have so much variety when it comes to main dishes, sides, and hors d’oeuvres, it’s advantageous to line up a consultation via phone or in person. This way we can go over everything together and set up a meal or spread that best fits your event. Again, all of our offerings are available to pick up in-store or for catering on location, so you are free to choose what works best for your specific needs and fits within your budget.”

He also notes, “Along with holiday parties, it’s also a good idea to plan ahead for your holiday gifts. Our steak gift boxes are always very popular among our corporate clients. These can be customized with an assortment of different cuts, and can even be purchased in bulk for a special discounted price. They make a great gift for either your employees or your clients, whether you choose to hand them out at the office, deliver them around town, or give them to guests at your holiday party. Furthermore, meat can be purchased in bulk which is perfect for companies who want to send all of their employees home for the holidays with turkeys or hams.

Whether you’re looking for an amazing gift or the perfect holiday meal, we offer plenty of special holiday fare that’s perfect for the season and sure to be enjoyed by all. Furthermore, considering that the holiday season is also football season, if you’re planning an upcoming tailgate or watch party we have plenty of good stuff for that too!”

Complementing the fare, and also enjoyed on its own, having the drinks flowing for the enjoyment of your guests is also commonplace at a festive holiday party. Deciding what to serve is the fun part, but deciding the quantity you’ll need as well as other aspects of your bar offerings can be a bit tricky.

Jim Sobczyk-Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal

Jim Sobczyk
Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal

“Your decisions about beverage catering are key to the overall success of your party,” says Jim Sobczyk with Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal. “Without a doubt, this is our specialty. With over 40 years of experience, our staff will help you figure out the brands, quantities and the overall supplies needed for any of your events.

The first step is to make an appointment to discuss the details with us. Appointments on average last about an hour. The goal is to figure out how much you need to buy and in turn, how much it will cost you. The answers are determined by the personality of your party. Each party has its own personality and we know just the right questions to ask in order to get the information we need. We start with the total number of guests and break them down into age groups. From this information alone, a close estimate can be drawn, but there are many more facets that we look at to create a custom fit for you.

Furthermore, there are a great number of ways to use our services. It can be as simple as paying us and letting us take care of everything from the equipment to the bartenders, or alternatively, you can choose to do a large portion on your own and simply buy the merchandise from us. When we say everything, we mean beer, liquor, wine, ice, cups, mixes, napkins, stir stix, and anything else that you could think of for your party. Since beverage catering is a specialty of our business, we work hand in hand with almost all of the local halls and caterers.

Other than the services already mentioned, there are three things we do for every party. First, we make it look and feel elegant. Second, we will help you work within your budget, and our buyback policy on unopened items keeps it economical. Third, we make it easy! It is all of these combined that make your party exciting instead of stressful, which is the way it should be.

We feel that there are no two parties that are completely the same. We are here to help you make planning your event an enjoyable and carefree time. Let us do the implementation – you have the fun.

Cornhusker Beverage & Bridal is proud to have over 40 years of success stories, and we’d be honored to help you make your holiday party the best one yet!”

{Gifts Galore!}

Sure, it’s still fairly early on in terms of gift shopping. However, for those who get it out of the way now before the madness hits, more time can be spent enjoying all of the other things.

It’s especially nice to alleviate the pressure of trying to find last-minute gifts for those who you know you shouldn’t have waited on because you have no idea what to get them. Then there are the customized and specialty gifts that have a lead time for ordering, which might be longer than expected. To be on the safe side it’s good to have a cushion, because stuff happens. Of course, there are always the gift items that are all the rage each year too. The last thing you want to be doing is fighting the crowds to get the last one on the shelves, which is pretty much a nightmare scenario, or have to call and check online dozens of times a day for a restock because you missed out the first time around. There are a number of scenarios when it’s just better to be safe than sorry. Granted, this may happen to you anyway, and may be inevitable depending on what the items on your gift list look like or if you’re waiting for the best deals, or even if you’re just the type of person who takes chances, but why not do what you can to avoid it?

It’s always satisfying to give that perfect gift, whether you’re finding it or creating it. This can sometimes be a process or take a little time and effort. For example, if there’s a woodworker or crafty person on your list, or if you’re someone who will apply that skill to making your own gifts, here are the things you’ll want to start thinking about now.

Gerry Phelan-Greater Omaha SCORE

Gerry Phelan
Greater Omaha SCORE

“If you have a special holiday project you want to make for someone, you need to give yourself enough time to do it right,” suggests Gerry Phelan with Woodcraft. “Woodworking takes time to do it right. If you are a woodworker, now is the time to get started on those holiday gifts. Some people enjoy last minute gift shopping, but last-minute woodworking can be very frustrating. As the deadline looms, mistakes creep in that can ruin your plans. And once your gift is complete you still need more time to give it a great finish.

We typically start stocking up in the fall on hardwoods, tools, books and plans to support woodworkers with their holiday gift projects. The one thing we aren’t able to offer is more time.

With our conversion to Woodcraft this year, we have been bringing in lots of new items that we never offered before. And you can bet that between now and the holidays we will have lots of amazing gift items on sale. If you have a woodworker on your list, we are your one-stop woodworking gift shop with thousands of items in stock.

If you’re completely unsure what your woodworker needs, a gift certificate can’t miss! We offer gift cards in any amount that never expire and have no service charges.

We see new woodworkers from all walks of life. Recently there have been a lot more women getting involved, which is great to see. It’s wonderful to have people getting into woodworking and finding a creative outlet. So perhaps you might want to consider a gift that is hard to wrap but always appreciated. How about a gift certificate for one of our woodworking classes? You could even join them and share some quality time together working with your hands. Anyone who takes pleasure in creating projects with their hands will enjoy woodworking.

Can’t find the perfect gift for your woodworker and they haven’t given you a list? If the gift card doesn’t appeal to you, call or email and we’ll do everything we can to help. We are woodworkers and we can offer gift suggestions and answer your questions. Just let us know what your favorite woodworker’s interests are and we’ll go to work for you.”

{Show Support!}

Finally, for parties and gifts alike, during the upcoming holiday season please keep our local businesses in mind. There are so many wonderful things they can do for you, and in turn, you’ll be helping make the holidays so much better for your neighbors and our community as a whole.

Presently, many are already beginning to plan for their parties and gifts, and we encourage you to be one of them too! It’s so nice when you have everything accomplished and you can devote more of your time and attention to delighting in all that’s wonderful about the holiday season. While there’s always a little bit of stress that goes along with getting everything accomplished in such a small window of time when schedules are packed all around, it can be greatly minimized if you plan as far in advance as you can. Before you know it, the holidays will be here, a time when there’s so much to do but also so much to enjoy!