Holiday Cheer in Lincoln, NE – 2018
Welcome back to part two of our Holiday Series! This month we are talking about all things cheerful—family gatherings, traditions (old and new), yummy holiday fare, gifts for loved ones, all the pretty lights and festive decorations—are you in the holiday spirit yet?
There is so much going on during the holidays; it’s easy to get busy and forget some of the necessities, like getting gifts for everyone on your list or some of the preparation steps that go into planning a party, but don’t stress! We have some awesome recommendations for you in terms of gifts and fun holiday traditions, and we can point you in the direction of some local experts who know how to plan a memorable occasion for you and your people.
Gift Giving—Some Things Can’t Be Wrapped
Sometimes, the best gifts are the ones that can’t be wrapped. Experiences bring people more happiness than possessions do. As you’re going down your list of people to buy gifts for this Holiday season, don’t just think about things they would want–think about something they actually need.
You can’t put a price tag on quality time, either. The perfect gift for someone might just be spending time with them. When we talked to Allisyn Meadows with 360 Clean, said she feels like Christmas has become too much about the gifts and the amount of money spent.
“In my house, we turn the holidays back around to quality time,” Allisyn explains. “The women and children in my extended family (close friends, aunts, and grandmothers) get together in October or November to make Christmas crafts. We come up with a couple of core ideas and make sure we have the supplies but, everyone can bring whatever craft they’d like to work on. We eat, drink wine, and make a crafty mess! After a couple hours, we are able to walk away with some pretty great holiday decorations without having to spend too much money—and we had fun making them together!
My daughters and I like to hand make Christmas gifts for the other members of our family, like soaps, candles, lotions, cookies, and ornaments. These are always a fun gift to give and receive! My girls love telling people that they made them with their own two hands, and the gift usually has a pampering element so the recipients are very happy too.
On Christmas day, my family makes our usual big breakfast and then we spend the day playing games or baking. These have become holiday traditions that feel like gifts of their own.”
The important thing when it comes to giving, whether it be in the form of gifts, time, affection, etc., is that you know what means the most to the person receiving. Buying the right present for a loved one can feel like a lot of pressure. Since everyone has different tastes and interest, you’ll need to put a little effort in if you want to dazzle your friends, family, coworkers, or whoever it may be.
Here are three tips to help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list this holiday season.
1. Make It Personal
When you give someone something that speaks to them personally, it becomes more than just a gift. It sends a message of how much you care about them because you actually put thought behind the money you spent on the gift.
“Personalized gifts are getting more attention and they have become a common trend in gift-giving,” confirms Anna Alcalde with Sartor Hamann Jewelers. “Personalized gifts work for everyone and they are always well received, no matter what it is. A customizable jewelry line we carry at Sartor Hamann is “Maps” by A.Jaffe. This popular line allows you to select any address in the world–perhaps your home address if you’re getting it for a family member, or the coordinates of a significant meeting spot if it’s for a friend or partner–and you’ll get a personalized with a diamond marking that exact location.
Another unique line we have at our stores is the Slate & Tell collection. The journey of life allows us to experience love and friendships, and it takes us to new places. The holidays are a time to celebrate these relationships and the people in our lives. Our experiences through life define who we are and the people that are most important to us. Do you want to tell them you love them? Say it on a slate, and tell them how much they mean to you.
The Slate & Tell jewelry collection is the first collection that is truly limitless in its possibilities. There’s a slate for love, every interest, every religion, and every language. There is no limit to how many you can wear, there is no limit to how many you can give, there is no limit to who you can give to, we have a slate for every occasion. We take pride that all Slate & Tell jewelry we carry is customized and stamped by hand.
Stop by Sartor Hamann, at one of our two locations in Lincoln, to check out all that we have to offer. Everyone on our staff is very knowledgeable, having been with us for over 10 years.”
2. Do Some Creeping
That’s right, we’re telling you to creep on your friends and family. Go to their Facebook pages or Instagrams. Chances are, they have wish lists on their Pinterest where you can find ideas based on the type of things they are interested in. Do you know what shoe size they are? What is their favorite clothing brand? Favorite color? Do they have a hobby or is there something they like to collect? Maybe they have a favorite band or artist and you can get them tickets to an upcoming concert. If you’re drawing blank, there is nothing wrong with a little snooping around to get some inspiration.
Typically, men struggle more than women do when it comes to shopping for the perfect gift. Maybe your wife has innocently told you this year that she doesn’t want anything for Christmas and not to worry about getting her a gift… but you know that simply will never be true. If your shopping for someone who doesn’t know what they want, send them over to Habitat and tell them to pick out a few things they really love. Habitat allows shoppers to come in anytime to create a wish list that they actually keep on file at the store. This way, you can go in at a later date and surprise your loved one with an item off their wish list—something you know they are going to like because they picked it out.
“Habitat has been Lincoln’s premier kitchen and gift store for more than 40 years,” notes Jana Clark with Habitat. “We focus on contemporary home décor, kitchen goods, and women’s accessories–there is definitely something in our store that the ladies on your gift list would love. Are you shopping for someone who loves to cook or bake? We carry many of the top brands in cookware. Right now we are really excited about the new Indigo color of the premium French cookware brand, Le Creuset, that we just recently launched. Other items include Vitamix blenders, premium knife sets, and Dutch oven sets. We even have specialty lines of gourmet food, such as premium quality on-tap oils and vinegars by Olivelle, along with dipping herbs, artisan sea salts, spices and rubs. To add a personal touch, pick out one of our recipe cards to go along with your gift and add a note saying that this is a recipe you want to make together.
At Habitat, we know the Holidays can be a stressful time for guys, especially guys who aren’t very creative or crafty—and that is okay! That is why Habitat is offering a Guy’s Night Out on December 4 with brats, beverages, and free gift wrapping. This is a great chance to pick up that special gift from her Habitat wish list, and take it home nicely wrapped to put under the tree.”
3. Identify Needs and Wants
Unwrapping something big and shiny sounds nice, but is it something the person can actually use? Or is it just going to end up collecting dust? The best gifts offer a nice balance between needs and wants. There are plenty of products that come to mind that can help people run their lives more efficiently and still serve as a pleasant gift surprise. If you’re shopping for someone who spends a lot of time driving, get their car detail cleaned for them. Or, get them a membership to JetSplash if they don’t have one already!
“Right now, we have the best prices of the year on our annual unlimited memberships,” announces Kendra McDonald with JetSplash. “You can also give the gift of car washes with our bundle packs. They make wonderful stocking stuffers and are great for everyone! Even those that are hard to shop for. A person’s car is a reflection of them, so help them to ride in style with a freshly washed vehicle.”
JetSplash is open rain, snow, or shine. An unlimited membership to JetSplash means that every time your truck gets splashed with mud, the kids make a mess in the back seat of your van, or your car becomes a target for birds, you can swing through one of JetSplash’s five convenient locations for an exterior wash, or to use their free vacuums and air hoses. No one likes a dirty car.
If you’re shopping for an athlete or someone who enjoys exercising, do your Christmas shopping at Play It Again Sports. Play It Again Sports carries gear for any sport or fitness-related activity. The best part about this store is that you can recycle any quality used sports and fitness equipment that you don’t use anymore. This is great if you’re a parent shopping for your child. Kids outgrow sports equipment so fast but their old gear is still in great condition. So, clean out your cluttered garage, basement, or closet and sell or trade in used sports gear, offsetting the cost of your holiday shopping expenses!
Another classic option is getting someone a gift card. Gift cards don’t have to be a “cop-out” gift. If you know someone has a favorite place to shop or eat, why not give them the flexibility to shop for someone they like on their own time, or let their next couple meals be on you. PILLAR Restaurant Group has announced a unique holiday promotion: If you or a loved one enjoys any of the PILLAR Restaurant Group’s concepts, you can purchase a gift card that works at every restaurant. That means a single card can be used as payment for Venue Restaurant & Lounge, Piedmont Bistro by Venue, any of the five Lincoln Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs locations, and the most exciting, the brand new Cactus Modern Mexican & Cantina by Venue! You just can’t beat that kind of flexibility.
Now, before we continue our conversation on holiday cheer, it’s important to remember that the holidays aren’t cheerful for everyone. Perhaps there is someone you know who just recently lost a loved one and this is their first Christmas without them. Or maybe there is someone in your life who is battling depression or another type of mental health disorder. The holidays could be a really anxious time for them. Erin Lange with 5 Elements Massage offered a few words on this topic.
“If there is someone you know who is suffering from a bereavement, a good gift for them would be something calming and tranquil. A loss causes so much stress in the body and it’s emotionally draining. You can help them alleviate this tension and find some peace during this difficult time by giving the gift of massage therapy. There is something so healing about human touch; it helps remind us we’re not alone.”
Erin also shared a few tips for those of you who are struggling as you look ahead to the holidays:
- Don’t overdo it. If you need to stay home, stay home.
- Make time for self care. The holidays are such a busy time, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Don’t forget to relax.
- Look further ahead. If the weeks and months ahead seem like they are too much to handle on your own, envision yourself on the other side of your anxiety. Give yourself hope. Start thinking about a New Year’s resolution!
- On the flip side, take it day by day (minute by minute if you need) and don’t forget to breathe.
Holiday Traditions—Make Lasting Memories
Traditions lend a certain significance, spirit, and texture to our everyday lives. Research has consistently shown that families and friend groups that engage in regular traditions report stronger connection and unity than those that haven’t. Traditions provide a chance for quality interaction, allowing people to get to know each other more intimately, and create a bond that comes from feeling that one is part of something special and even exclusive.
Gary Tharnish with Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers had this in mind when he came up with the Friends and Flowers workshop. “Start a new holiday tradition this year by getting a group together at Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers for a chance to create your own decorative arrangement!” encourages Gary. “You will be immersed into the world of flowers and greenery. Fresh or silk flowers can be used to create a holiday-themed bouquet. You and your group are also welcome to bring wine and snacks to make the experience even more enjoyable!”
Traditions can be with groups of people, or they can be a shared experience between two people. Maybe your tradition with someone is getting all your holiday gift shopping done together. If this is the case, we urge you to check out the shops in 70th & Pioneers shopping area. In fact, November 8 is Shop The Block – Ladies’ Day Out. There are 15 businesses in this area offering exciting, exclusive holiday specials and giveaways. One of these stores is Rachel’s Boutique, a popular shop carrying a variety of renowned designers and features an exquisite selection of clothing, jewelry and other fabulous accessories.
“Another date to mark on your calendars is December 6 for our annual Blow Vintage Truck Show,” shares Cherie Travis with Rachel’s Boutique. “Attendees will have the chance to meet the owner/founder of one-of-a-kind whistle jewelry, a great gift for all ages. It’s not only a piece of jewelry, it can be used for safety! Shop The Block – Ladies’ Day Out and our Blow Vintage Truck Show are perfect chances to get a lot of holiday shopping done at once. I’d say shopping is as good of a tradition as any.”
When coming up with a new holiday tradition, try to do something different than you normally do. If you’re making plans with family or a big group, you’ll need to start coordinating details ahead of time to make sure everyone can participate.
“If you are planning an event that includes a lot of people and requires a reservation, it is best to set a date well in advance,” advises Jen Miseno with Sun Valley Lanes. “Not only does this give everyone who is invited more time to plan other commitments around the selected event date, but you’ll be more likely to find availability at the venue of your choice.
Creating memories while doing something special lasts a lot longer than any tangible gift, in my opinion. This is why I encourage groups to check out Sun Valley Lanes. Maybe bowling isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when planning your holiday festivities, but the groups who have celebrated with us have not been disappointed. What is awesome about bowling is that just about everyone on this planet can do it. Since it is an indoor activity, it doesn’t matter how cold the weather is outside. It’s a game that allows for a lot of socialization. At Sun Valley Lanes, we also have arcade games, great food options, and beverages for kids and adults.”
Jennifer Davis-Korn with 48 Bowl, Inc. likes the idea of making a night at the bowling alley a tradition as well. “At 48 Bowl, Inc., we have many guests whose family holiday tradition is to gather at Parkway Lanes or Hollywood Bowl and enjoy an affordable and fun afternoon bowling together. Bowling is an activity that can be played by everyone in your group, no matter their age or skill level. It’s always fun to laugh about the gutters and rental shoes and cheer on the strikes. Families can drop in and take a chance on lane availability, but because the winter holidays are usually cold, it means that indoor entertainment options are popular choices for everyone and we may often be full or busy. That is why we recommend not only calling ahead to the centers to inquire about open bowling, but also planning a little further in advance and making a lane reservation.
We offer reservations at many times, and if you have a group of twenty or more, can even save you a little money with our group rates. Catering, food and beverage service is also available to add-on to any reservation, and we can customize a package to meet your group’s needs and budget. If you need a space to spread out, exchange gifts or have a sit down meal together, we also offer separate rooms for inexpensive rental rates. Lane reservations require a 3-7 day advance notice, depending on the type, but we always recommend making reservations as far in advance as possible. We host many parties at this time of year and prime time dates go quickly.
To get started on your plans, you can browse our options on our website. Some reservations can be made instantaneously online, but others, including reservations for larger groups or catering, require making arrangements with our Group Booking Coordinator, Terri Jo Podraza. Terri Jo will be happy to help guide you through the options and get your family set up with an outing that is sure to please.”
Another interactive outing is golf! Yes, golf in the winter time. How is this possible? Well, since Graduate Lincoln installed three Topgolf Swing Suites in their lobby, people have the option to swing a golf club with friends (and pros!) all year round. With Full Swing golf simulator technology in each bay, you and your group can rent out one to play a round of gold while enjoying food and drinks from the hotel’s restaurant, John J’s Chow Hall.
“We’re situated in a great spot with plenty of action within walking distance,” Tom Benes with Graduate Lincoln adds. “With the Haymarket, downtown, and the nearby Railyard District coming alive during the holidays, Graduate Lincoln is the perfect place to gather.”
Also downtown, you’ll find an ideal venue for hosting a holiday party. The Talon Room is the perfect size for small to medium-sized holiday gathering. It’s intimate enough that it’s commonly booked for private parties with a smaller invite list of family and friends. The space is very flexible, making it easy to transform it into a winter wonderland or bring the theme of your choice to life.
“The Talon Room is a hidden gem of sorts; once you see the space you see the possibilities,” says Matthew Rogge with the Talon Room. “Holiday parties are the pinnacle tradition. It may not be the most unique concept, but you can still make it a memorable event.
Our venue has a full bar and ample room to set up a catered spread, which we are more than happy to help arrange or you can bring in whatever you like. We can set up to accommodate a DJ, or we can set up a stage area if you’d prefer a live musician, ensemble, or band for your entertainment. Even if you want us to handle all of the arrangements, it’s not a problem. We have an all-inclusive package that covers everything for one set price up-front. Let us take care of the behind-the-scenes details so you can have yourself a party!”
A tradition that is a little bit more mobile than others, but definitely a classic, is driving around to look at Christmas lights.
“Our Holiday Light Tours are second to none!” Exclaimed Lori Hiebner with Leisure Limousine & Sedan. “We scope out the best light displays around town and take your family on a special night out in one of our luxury limousines, SUVs, buses, or town cars. If you book a two-hour Holiday Light Tour on a weekday, we offer 10% off the total price.”
Your holiday traditions don’t just have to be with friends and family. Well, your human friends and family, that is. Start a holiday tradition with your pet! On December 1, Pet Central Station invites you and your furry friends to their store to create paw print ornaments. You can either put your paw print ornament on their tree, or pick out an ornaments to decorate for their tree and take your paw print creation home to hang on your own tree!
“Our first annual Christmas party will be held on December 19,” Kelly Donnel with Pet Central Station informs. “Some of our clients will be participating in a free gift exchange, and don’t forget those Christmas photographs with Santa! Santa will actually be at Pet Central Station several times during December to pose with you and your pets, so keep up with us on social media or call the store for more details.”
The exciting news continues as Pet Central Station announced their huge Black Friday sale. Beginning Friday, November 23 and going through the entire weekend, Pet Central Station will be offering 40% off storewide. Put your paws in the air if you’re feeling the holiday spirit now!
Party Planning—Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!
Doesn’t matter if your holiday plans involve staying in or going out, you’ll want to plan ahead. The basics of entertaining remain the same in your home as they do at any other venue around town. Key details to consider include atmosphere, food, drinks, and entertainment.
If you’ll be welcoming guests into your home this year and will be cooking dinner, let Country Sliced Ham help you out in the kitchen. Country Sliced Ham offers signature ham, bacon, turkey breasts, and other daily specials as a part of their lunch and deli menu. As ham is a popular holiday entrée, order yours in advance by calling Country Sliced Ham. You’re guests will be very impressed!
As for desserts, give the sweet tooths at the table something to drool over by ordering your holiday treats from Butterfly Bakery. Butterfly Bakery began in March of 2009. From fresh breakfast pastries, decadently decorated sugar cookies, or an original occasion for your special event, anything you can think up, they can create. Butterfly Bakery products are always made fresh, from scratch, using quality ingredients.
“Our innovative designs and attention to detail truly make every item a piece of edible artwork,” notes Katie O’Connor with Butterfly Bakery. “We will do our best to make sure every detail of your creation is absolutely unforgettable, adding that special touch to your holiday dinner spread.”
If there is one thing guests will remember from your party, it’s the food you serve. That is why it’s essential to provide them with fare that they will enjoy, to incorporate variety and above all, make it something delicious.
As for drinks, order your freshly roasted Ahroma Coffee today. “Ahroma Pumpkin Spice flavored coffee fits the holiday tradition well,” comments Charlotte Ralston with Ahroma Coffee. “Ahroma is unique in the industry because we flavor only specialty grade, top-quality coffee for the best tasting cup possible. Or if you want a delicious strong cup, our French Roast and Colombian are wonderful to go with any dessert. Roasted here in Lincoln, keep a pot of Ahroma brewing all day long to keep guests happy and alert! Ahroma coffee makes a wonderful hostess gift, and our Coffee Lover’s gift basket can be shipped to family or clients anywhere.
Don’t forget about our snacks, either! R.U. Nuts trail mixes and roasted nuts are perfect to keep on hand. Taking one of our food and coffee filled gift baskets along to a holiday gathering or having one conveniently shipped to arrive will make you the most popular person at the party! R.U. Nuts gift baskets are a tangible and welcome way to say ‘Happy Holidays!’ or ‘Thank you’ to friends and customers, and can cheer up an entire office. Filled with gourmet chocolates, nuts, coffee, and more, you get huge value and variety.”
For everything else on your grocery list, Sam’s Club is the place to go. Sam’s Club has all your holiday food preparation and entertaining needs. When you’re feeding a lot of people, maybe even multiple meals over the span of a couple days, it’s more efficient to buy in bulk. At Sam’s Club, they put their members first with members only prices. That could mean you!
There is a lot that goes into hosting. For example, you’ll want to make sure your house is clean! House cleaning can be a time consuming task, so hire the professionals to do it for you. 360 Clean is locally owned and operated, and they are known for quality assurance and customer satisfaction.
As a holiday special, 360 Clean is offering 15% off their services to new customers and 15% off all gift certificates ($60 minimum) through January 1. Call at least two weeks ahead of when you’ll need your house cleaned!
After cleaning, spruce the place up with some lovely floral decor from Fields Floral. If you are crunched for time, Fields Floral can come to your home and decorate your tree or all throughout, and the same applies to any party venue or office space.
“We’ve decorated several churches around Lincoln and create many centerpieces for various parties,” Sara Reyes Sudman with Fields Floral informs us. “We also have a lot of seasonal holiday arrangements that make great centerpieces and each Friday, we offer $10 bouquets, so stop in and take one home!”
Since 1977, Fields Floral has been a long standing tradition in Lincoln. Their adorable flower shop is located in the historic College View area on 48th and Cooper St.
The outside of your home is just as important to decorate as the inside. What kind of impression do you want to make on your guests when they arrive? They should see your house and instinctively start humming Christmas carols. It’s all about creating that holiday atmosphere, from start to finish, which is something Festive Expressions can help with. If you haven’t put your lights up already, their team of professionals will do it all for you—display design, installation, maintenance, take-down, clean-up, storage—everything.
“We will evaluate your outdoor space and create holiday lighting and decorating plans that fit well with the unique features of your home,” explains David Hastreiter with Christmas Décor by Festive Expressions. Decorating your property helps trigger the holiday mood, which is good for everyone. Adequate lighting in the months when it’s darker longer will increase safety and security too. Hurry and give Festive Expressions a call! We usually get booked up by mid-November.”
Being a host has its exciting challenges, but some people prefer to take the pressure off themselves and eat out for the holidays (and we don’t blame them!). When it comes to a good dining experience, MōMō Pizzeria & Ristorante comes to mind. They offer an upscale, extraordinary dining experience in a cozy yet modern neighborhood restaurant and bar setting. Not to mention the cocktail menu is a thing of beauty, and it is updated seasonally as well.
Another restaurant in town is Screamers Dining & Cabaret, a place with a sultry jazz/cabaret/nightclub feel combined and high-energy live performances. If you’re trying to give your friends and family who are in town for the holidays a taste of our local dining scene, Screamers will blow them away with it’s raved about menu and talent-filled entertainment.
If you’re transporting a big group of people around for your holiday activities, whether it’s to get to dinner or an event, we recommend Rent-A-Van. When Rent-A-Van got its start over 25 years ago, their goal was to provide low-mileage, clean, dependable vans to customers who would appreciate their honest, straightforward way of doing business.
Safety is very important during the winter months, so choose reliable transportation. Don’t pile too many in a car that doesn’t fit everyone. Rent-A-Van has spacious 12 and 15-passenger vans that can accommodate your group, along with any food dishes, gifts, or luggage you may be transporting with you.
That’s a wrap for this chapter of the Holiday Series. Get creative with your gifts and activities this holiday season, and make some amazing memories by starting a new tradition! We’ll pick up where we left off next month in part three of this Holiday Series. Until then, have a Happy Thanksgiving!