Holiday Wrap Up in Omaha, NE 2017

December is quite the month, full of merriment and making memories. During which time, there’s a lot to get done and not an abundance of time in which to accomplish it.

Although it can be a tall order to prepare for all of the holiday festivities to come, in the true spirit of the season it’s a time for celebration and to count our many blessings. In order to focus the majority of your attention on the latter of those things and minimize stress in handling the former, look no further than our fantastic local businesses for help with all of your holiday needs!

Once we reach the month of December, we’re officially in the homestretch and it’s really time to get down to business. As most can relate, it always seems like there’s plenty of time until all of a sudden there’s not. Unless you thrive in the midst of chaos, leaving things until the very last minute is not the position in which you want to find yourself if at all possible.

Gerry Phelan-Woodcraft

Gerry Phelan

“It does help to start early – that Christmas Eve shopping always works out better in the movies,” notes Gerry Phelan with Woodcraft. “When you are giving presents to people you care about, you’ll want to find a gift that will delight them. That will delight you in turn. The key is discovering what they really want.

We’ve had gift buyers who purchase equipment for their favorite woodworkers, but more often we look for special items to enhance their workshops. We always have new tools and special woodworking items for the holidays. Now that we are a Woodcraft store, we have an avalanche of new items!  If you have a woodworker on your list, we’re your one-stop gift shop with thousands of items in stock.  We realize that it can be hard to buy for a woodworker but we’ll be happy to help.  We are woodworkers ourselves and we can offer gift suggestions and answer your questions.  Tell us a little about what your favorite woodworker makes and we’ll go to work for you.

If all else fails, you can always give a gift certificate.  We offer gift certificates in any amount that never expire and have no service charges.   You can be sure it will make your woodworker very happy.

Or, if you have someone on your gift list who needs a creative outlet and enjoys working with their hands, they can become a woodworker!  You can give them a woodworking class.  There are many disciplines people can pursue, from carving to turning, cabinet making and everything in between.  And woodworking isn’t just a guy thing; we are seeing more and more women getting involved.  We make sure everyone learns and has a great experience in our classes. There are never more than 4 or 5 people in a class so it is a very ‘hands-on’ experience.

While gift-giving is nice, remember that your time and attention is the best gift of all.  If you are thinking of giving a certificate for a class, consider taking the class with them.  You can both enjoy learning and doing, while sharing some quality time together. Alternatively, if you are able to make something special with your own hands, that gift has a much stronger personal connection.

Remember that even though the best plans sometimes don’t work out, it’s not about presents or plans, it’s about people.  Focus on the positive and enjoy the moment. The holiday season should be fun and enjoyable, not a stressful problem for you.  Don’t worry about perfection – you don’t have to reach perfect to have a wonderful holiday. As Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers would say ‘RELAX.’”

If you’re weighing your options between selecting a gift, whether it’s an item or an experience, or giving a gift card and letting the recipient be the one to choose, you’re in good company.

Gift cards do get a bit of a bad rap (not to be confused with a bad wrap, which you won’t have to worry about with these babies!) for being sort of a cop-out, but honestly, they make pretty great gifts. You can give them alone in a card, with an assortment of items in a gift basket, or match them with other gifts for the perfect combination. You can get a bunch from one of your favorite places and spread them around as you please for others to experience what you already know to be amazing, or you could carefully select the gift cards based on what you know each recipient would like. The varying dollar amounts allow you to treat each of your coworkers or clients to something yummy from a local coffee shop or bakery without going broke, or go big and treat your neighbors, parents, the newlywed couple in your family, the couple with kids, etc. to a date night at a nice restaurant or to see a show at a local theatre. For the pet lover, the sports lover, the book lover, the nature enthusiast, the hobbyist, the fitness guru…this could go on, but you get the picture, a gift card will let them get what they love, which is something you can definitely feel good about. It also gives you the choice between giving the gift of an item with a gift card from a local retailer or giving the gift of an experience with a gift card from a local entertainment venue – or both if the item will be used during the experience. And with so many awesome deals on gift cards during the holidays, you can stretch your funds and give more, or get what you need and keep the rest to treat yourself. So many options!

Aside from gift cards, curated and custom gift boxes or baskets are another easy gift item that are generally well-received by anyone on your gift list.

Sean Fuller-Just Good Meat

Sean Fuller
Just Good Meat

“Our gift boxes are insanely popular every year,” says Sean Fuller with Just Good Meat. “These are perfect for a family member, boss, co-worker, even the person that has everything. We’ll have them ready for you to stop by the store and pick up at a designated time, or we can make arrangements to deliver right to the doorstep of the recipient. We also put together large orders for corporate gift boxes that our customers present to their clients or employees, and offer a nice discount when purchased in quantity. There are many different combinations to choose from, which can be viewed on our website,, under the Steak Gift Boxes tab. If you don’t see one you like or have something specific in mind, give us a call to discuss the options for putting together a custom gift box.

As we are all familiar, things get hectic during the holidays and time is precious, so it’s our pleasure to make your experience quick and simple. We look forward to serving our friends and neighbors in the Omaha Metro community this holiday season!”

With all of the thoughtful gifts coming in from clients and those you do business with, it’s easy to feel the love when you’re surrounded by a multitude of amazing gift baskets and pretty arrangements of treats. But it’s also easy to feel the guilt when you can’t pull yourself away from them and you just keep snacking If you’re giving such a gift, why not consider healthy snacks this year? It will certainly set you apart, and if you do it right, in a good way.

Charlotte Ralston - R U Nuts

Charlotte Ralston
R U Nuts & Ahroma
Specialty Coffee

“The gift of food is enjoyed by all of your employees and not just the boss, so it’s a nice gesture that extends your gratitude to everyone,” says Charlotte Ralston with R U Nuts and Ahroma Specialty Coffee. “When you bring in a gift that’s able to be shared by everyone on staff, it’s often something that they remember and will associate with you long past the holidays. Since there are so many more of us who are health conscious these days, and for good reason, it’s refreshing to have healthy snacks in the mix. By giving that type of gift, you can really stand out and make a good impression. At R U Nuts we do have a nice assortment of chocolates and candies, but we also have an equally abundant selection of nuts and dried fruits.

Then there’s coffee, which is widely considered to be a workplace staple. The gift of coffee is one that will be enjoyed and appreciated, that’s for sure. Every day is a holiday when you’re drinking Ahroma Specialty Coffee! Having high-quality gourmet coffee already at the office will save the trip to pick it up on the way, which means less time and money spent on that, leaving you more for your own personal holiday agenda. Aside from client gift-giving, it’s great for the employees to give to the boss and vice versa.

We have an assortment of gift baskets filled with our most popular items that are always a big hit. This includes Coffee Lovers, Holiday Cheer, Nebraska ‘Buy Local’, People Pleaser, The Good Times, and V.I.P. For corporate gift giving, we can customize the product as well as the packaging to fit your budget and your taste.”

She also notes, “All of our products also make great personal gifts for friends and family – and excellent stocking stuffers! Furthermore, I’d advise anyone who is hosting guests in their home for the holidays to make sure they are stocked up on snacks and morning coffee. It’s the little things to ensure everyone is comfortable, satisfied, and able to fully enjoy their visit.

There’s nothing like starting the day off around the table with your loved ones catching up over a fresh cup of coffee. Instead of everyone having to venture out to grab a cup of coffee, you can bring the coffeehouse to your house with Ahroma’s locally-roasted coffee. It’s such a nice thing to do as a host to have great-tasting coffee on-hand. Plus the smell of freshly-brewed coffee wafting through the house is one that makes everyone feel at home, warm and cozy, as you make holiday memories holidays together.

As far as snacks, munching throughout the day is fairly commonplace during holiday gatherings. It can seem like forever for it to be time to sit down and eat, and as the host, it’s nice to put a little spread out for grazing in the meantime. Light snacks like nuts, dried fruit, and trail mix are great because they’ll tide you over but not completely ruin your appetite. There’s surely an abundance of treats and a calorie-fest when it comes to holiday dinners, so it’s often a welcome surprise to at least have a few healthier options available too.

We even offer a specialty ‘Get Together’ gift basket packed with all of the essentials included. There’s mixed nuts, trail mix, a sweet treat, and both Ahroma premium coffee pot-size packs and single-serving packs of Big Train Chai tea.”

Rachel Schizas

Rachel Schizas
Lied Lodge & Conference Center

Rachel Schizas with Lied Lodge & Conference Center also offers the following ideas for gift giving:

“Experiential gifts are always popular. Imagine giving someone an overnight stay at Lied Lodge & Conference Center. You can include dinner, a wine tasting, and even a spa treatment. And you can do it all with a gift certificate, making it a perfect last-minute gift. We also have four different gift shops across Arbor Day Farm, so finding a unique gift (many of them local products) is a snap.”

She also highlights this month’s line-up of festivities at Lied Lodge & Conference Center, “We have several events and activities during the holiday season including Christmas at the Mansion, the Holiday Trolley Tour of Lights, and Brunch with Santa. For businesses and small groups, we are hosting a holiday party on December 16 called Mingle & Jingle. This event is a great option for groups wanting to hold a big party without having to worry about all the details. We’ve taken care of everything—live music, prime rib buffet, entertainment, cash bar, holiday décor, etc.—and created a holiday party your employees, family, or friends will remember. It’s not too late to book your group, so give us a call if you’re interested. To ring in the new year, our New Year’s Eve celebration will feature Big Show Dueling Pianos and our special New Year’s Eve Grand Buffet in the Timber Dining Room.”

Finally, she offers advice on handling last-minute details and managing the stress that often accompanies it.

“For me, disorganization and too much to do results in a high level of stress. Making a to-do list is a simple way to get organized. It’ll also help you look for areas where you could use a little help. Anxious about making Christmas dinner? Why not bring the family to our Christmas buffet? Need a last-minute gift? Lied Lodge gift cards are available online.

Schedules are busy during the holidays with family gatherings and school activities in high gear. It can make it difficult to find a party date that works for everyone. Delaying your party until after the holidays can help alleviate these challenges. We have multiple holiday events in January and even February for this very reason. That being said, putting together a party at the last minute is easy at Lied Lodge because we have everything you need—delicious food, customizable space, and accommodations. We are here to help you.  We even assign you a personal event planner to help finalize all details and to create your overall experience.”

“The holidays tend to be very hectic,” agrees Brent Ganey with the Old Fashioned Garden Café in Rockbrook Village. “During the rush, we often forget about the little things, like how thoughtful it would be to give the gift of a holiday dinner to friends or relatives who may not have a house full of guests this year. Everyone wants to have a home-cooked holiday meal. Some like turkey, others ham, which is why we created holiday dinners that are precooked and ready to go; just heat and serve. Meals serving up to six people that are affordable are perfect for dropping off the day before the holiday to let that special person or people know that you are thinking about them, even if you can’t spend the holiday with them.

As for corporate gifts, businesses love little treats from their suppliers and customers. We make it easy and affordable for you to show your appreciation with our assortment of Holiday Goodie Trays. Preorder or stop in, grab one or twenty–we are ready to help you stand out in the crowd. Don’t let your corporate function sneak up on you either! Reserve your date and let us do the cooking, as we deliver it right to your conference room. At less than $10 per person, we are sure to have what you need and help you stay within your budget.”

Finally, he offers a bit of advice for holiday party fare. “Sushi for Christmas? I don’t think so! Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Classic holiday meals such as turkey, meatloaf, or glazed ham are sure to please and reinforce the festivity of the party. Santa hats and our delicious cinnamon rolls go hand-in-hand as well. Tight budget at the office? Think breakfast and cut costs by 50% by having a 10 a.m. event with cheesy strattas, fresh fruits, cinnamon and pecan rolls, just like Christmas morning!”

As far as trends for corporate holiday parties and gatherings, it’s become common for events that are focused on client entertaining during the holidays to take precedence during the holidays, with events to thank your employees for their hard work the past year following in January and February. Both types could be well-positioned yet this month or at the beginning of 2018 and even beyond, it just depends on the specifics of the individual business or organization.

There is a good case for waiting until after the holiday hustle and bustle has subsided, though. After the holidays everything has settled down a bit and you have a lot more time to dedicate to your party arrangements and entertaining your attendees. There are a lot more open dates to choose from too when it comes to booking your venue and vendors of choice. Likewise, your clients and/or employees will be able to enjoy themselves more without having to worry about everything else that’s going on in their lives. Employees may appreciate a bonus before the holidays, but when it comes to an event, many would agree that it’s appreciated afterward.

If this year was just too crazy to focus on hosting a party in the near future, start planning a spring or summer event and you’ll definitely stand out then! Many are taking the opportunity to do events throughout the year to show appreciation, so don’t feel stressed if you’re limited on possibilities now that it’s December, just get creative and expand the possibilities a bit.

For example, at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema hosting an interactive movie-themed party is fun year-round, so setting it up during or after the holidays certainly won’t affect the outcome – your guests having a great time!

With the holiday party season in full swing, the Small Business Legal Center at the National Federation of Independent Business has advised keeping celebrations safe by watching out for two problem areas – drunk driving and harassment. Just as much as all of the fun things associated with holiday parties, it’s important to take these things into consideration when planning.

Drunk Driving

An increasing number of states require employers to exercise reasonable care to prevent injuries by intoxicated employees leaving holiday parties. To minimize the risk of liability an employer should do the following:

  • Use professional bartenders, and instruct them not to serve anyone who appears intoxicated.
  • Distribute drink tickets to limit the number of free drinks.
  • Serve lots of free food to soak up the alcohol.
  • Ask trusted managers and supervisors to be on the lookout for people who have had too much to drink and are unable to drive or need assistance getting home.
  • Pay for transportation to take impaired employees and guests home or offer designated drivers.


Socializing, alcohol, and mistletoe combine to create an environment that can lead to sexual harassment or fighting. Just because it’s a holiday party doesn’t mean you can’t be liable for what happens as an employer. Employee lawsuits can result from voluntary events held outside the office and outside normal work hours.

  • Remind employees about company anti-harassment policies before the party.
  • If your business does not have an anti-harassment policy, get one! Check out the free sample policy developed by NFIB. Have an attorney review it.
  • Don’t hang mistletoe.
  • Ask trusted managers and supervisors to intervene and stop any fighting or inappropriate conduct witnesses or reported.
  • Finally, make sure that all employees understand that a holiday party is a work-related activity and that rules for appropriate work behavior still apply.

Regarding safe transportation, there are several options offered locally that one could utilize. Among those, one that’s popular every year as it’s especially fitting for a special occasion is a limousine! Then of course there’s Uber and Lyft, or you can often find promotions where a free cab ride is offered, or even a free tow to get you and your car to your destination courtesy of AAA.

Debbie Newhouse-Urgent Pet Care

Debbie Newhouse
Urgent Pet Care

With so much activity, the holidays can be a very stressful and potentially dangerous time for our pets too. Debbie Newhouse, LVT, CVPM with Urgent Pet Care offers a few tips to make the holidays stress-free for owners and pets alike:

“During the holidays we have more food sitting on tables and countertops. This is a wonderful buffet for our pets. Chocolate and meat products are usually the biggest items that get pets into trouble. Chocolate can cause hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and if consumed in big enough quantities, even death. Meat products can cause vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to pancreatitis, a condition that’s essentially inflammation of the pancreas.  This can turn into several days in the hospital on IV fluids, antibiotics, anti-vomiting and anti-diarrheal medications for recovery.

Most of us love to decorate our homes but don’t think about our pets when doing so. For cats, things like tinsel, small bulbs and garland are irresistible chewing items. When ingested can cause gastric upset or remain in their digestive system as foreign bodies that may need surgical intervention. Christmas trees make great climbing posts, which usually causes the tree to come crashing to the ground.

Dogs are not immune to these items either, especially puppies. Anything in reach is a new chew toy. Those additional extension cords and light cords plugged in are an irresistible chew toy that can cause electrical burns to the mouth and respiratory issues.

Holiday plants such as poinsettias, holly, mistletoe, and lilies are dangerous to our pets. These plants, if eaten completely or even chewed on a little, can cause everything from drooling, gastric upset, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure and possible death.

Holidays bring hectic schedules and changes in our everyday routines. These changes also add stress to our pets’ lives. Trying to keep to a regular schedule with feeding and outdoor time helps our pets to feel safe. Remember to take a few minutes to hug and play with your pet as it will help to relieve both your stress and your pet’s stress.

If planning a holiday party, make arrangements for your pet to be in a separate room or kennel.  This helps prevent your guests from feeding the dog(s) or cat(s) foods they should not have and also prevents them from getting into alcohol that may be left in glasses on the floor.  The stress of having so many different people in the house can cause even the mildest-mannered pet to lose his or her temper and bite.

Should any of these happen or you come across something else you’re unsure about with your pet, Urgent Pet Care is open nights, weekends and holidays to help in case emergency.”

During the holidays, it’s especially important to be mindful to spread the cheer by supporting local businesses whenever possible. By keeping our money here in our community, it can do the most good for us all. There are so many wonderful places in the Omaha Metro to explore and enjoy!