Welcome back to the second part of our holiday series! While we hope you are all feeling extra grateful during this time, we know how busy and overwhelming it can be. You might have a heavier workload at your job right now that feels impossible to juggle with all of the family and social engagements you also have on your plate. On top of that, this is when you probably want to get your holiday gift shopping done. Our advice is to find ways to make things easier for yourself by being creative in how you choose to celebrate the holidays and with your gift giving. You should also try to get as much done ahead of time as possible, spreading out your holiday to-do list so that you’re not scrambling for anything last minute.
With Thanksgiving and Christmas on our doorsteps, many of us are preparing to welcome company into our home. Hospitality isn’t about being perfect, but being a host can be a great motivator to finish that maintenance or cleaning project you’ve been putting off. One of the best things you can do to get your home ready for guests is to declutter. Clutter in a room instantly makes it seem smaller. If you’re struggling with clutter, we recommend using the Marie Kondo method in order to organize your home—declutter by category, not by space. There are five categories to tackle: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items (which Kondo describes as Komono), and sentimental items. This method is all about clearing things out of your home that lack value. Tidying isn’t about impressing other people, it’s having a living space that reduces stress instead of causing it.
Instead of throwing away lightly used items, consider selling them in order to get a few extra bucks to buy new gifts. For example, if you go through your garage and find sports equipment that you or your family no longer uses, consider selling them to Play It Again Sports.
When you bring something in to Play It Again Sports, they will appraise it and make an offer based on the condition of the equipment. As the customer, you can either take the offer and receive on-the-spot payment or trade your old item for any of the new or quality used gear they currently have in stock at the store. Since they are constantly buying new used items, there’s new stock flowing into their store every single day. If you don’t find what you need on your first visit, they update their inventory on their website daily. You can also sign up for their email list to learn about special promotions.
Play it Again Sports has been serving Nebraska for over 20 years. They work to ensure the best deal for all their customers in both buying and selling quality athletic equipment.
Selling your belongings that you no longer have a need for can be a great way to make some fast cash when money is tight. However, if you’re having a hard time finding a buyer and you just want to get stuff out of the house, remember to donate what you can to your local charities.
Another way to handle the demands of the holiday season when you have a lot on your plate is using a courier service like Free My Time to knock out some of the trivial errands you need to run.
“Our service allows people to take back their time,” said Owner Adam Conway. “We provide courteous, dependable drivers that save you time and energy by being on time, every time. Free My Time can run personal errands like stopping by the grocery store, depositing a check at the bank, returning an item to the mall, or even picking up a last minute present so that you can be stress-free this holiday season. We guarantee same day completion to all clients, and we have three options depending on how quick you need a task carried out. We encourage people to keep us in mind during the holidays when they feel overwhelmed. Free My Time allows you to spend more time with the people you love and less running around town with a to-do list of pick ups and drop offs.”
Another thing to consider when you’re planning to entertain at your home during the holidays is putting your pet(s) in daycare so they aren’t in the way when you have a lot of foot traffic happening in your house. This especially applies if you have a puppy that gets a little too hyper or overwhelmed with a lot of people around. You don’t want to have to be calming your dog down or cleaning up after them when you’re busy with host duties. If your holiday plans require travel and your pets can’t road trip or fly with you, make sure you’re making boarding arrangements for them.
If you board with Kenl Inn, your pets will receive all the love, care, and affection they’re used to getting at home. Dian Quist talked to us about what to expect when taking your pet to Kenl Inn: “We see all kinds of critters around the holiday season and accept them all with open arms! On any given day, we see a multitude of dogs and cats and normally at least a few birds, rodents, or reptiles. The lodging of course depends on the animal staying with us. For dogs, we have two boarding options. Clients can either choose our executive suites or general lodging. Our executive suites are more spacious, offer more privacy, and have luxury features like oak trims, marble tile floor, a raised bed, and a full-length window. General lodging provides dogs with a roomy, private quarter that is designed for their safety and well-being. In all situations year-round, central air/heat is provided. If you have more than one dog, they can be boarded together for their own comfort at a discounted rate. For our feline boarders, they all stay in our state-of-the-art cattery. It’s a well ventilated, open solarium with a country side view. The cattery is also designed for the comfort and safety of your kitty. We offer personal complexes and duplexes.“
“No matter the pet, we can make them a part of our family while you’re enjoying yours,” Dian added. “You can rest assured that your fur-baby is in good hands with us. We care for each animal morning, noon, and night to make them feel as comfortable and secure as possible.”
The friendly staff at Kenl Inn knows how to enjoy the holidays as a team. According to Dian, last year for Thanksgiving, they put up a paper gratitude tree (a branched out tree with cut-out leaves to write on) at their facility so staff and clients could share what they are thankful for. They also always offer a holiday dinner for their guests on Thanksgiving Day with roasted turkey, potatoes, gravy, and green beans—it’s a big hit!
Dian also reminded us that a gift card to Kenl Inn would make a great gift for someone in your life who has pets. Gift cards can be used for grooming, training, daycare, and anything in the store!
As we think about our pets during the holidays, Dave Titterington with Arnie’s Pet Food Store suggested getting a Christmas stocking for your dog(s) to fill with some healthy treats as part of your own little tradition with your furry family member(s). If you’re sharing delicious holiday treats with friends, family, and work associates, don’t forget to include a treat for their dog too if you know they have one! That will mean a lot to them—just make sure the treat is safe for dogs to eat.
“When it comes to choosing food or treats for your pet, it’s important to find kinds with limited or no additives like dyes, artificial flavors, or fillers like corn, sorghum, or wheat.” Dave advised. “At Arnie’s, we only sell pet foods that are completely natural as well as sourced in the United States. To make sure your pet is living a healthy life, you should avoid foods that are labeled as ‘flavored.’ There’s no clue where the flavor comes from, and the food probably lacks any true sources of protein that your pet needs to fuel its body and stay full for long periods of time.”
Speaking of staying full, during the holiday season, it’s important not to feed your animal scraps from any holiday meals. While it can be hard to resist those puppy dog eyes, it’s important to not get your dog attached to human food. Oily and fatty foods, like a Thanksgiving turkey, can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, and even pancreatitis. Also, many foods are prepared with onions which should never be given to dogs. Feeding them scraps can also lead to obesity in your pet, which is a lifelong battle you will then have to fight with them. Keep your animal safe and healthy this holiday season by only feeding them high-quality food that is meant for their size, breed, and species.
Holiday traditions are the best, no matter whether they are ones you share with coworkers, family, friends, or even your pets. When we spoke to Sara Sudman at Fields Floral, she shared some of her family’s holiday traditions with us!
“This is my favorite time of the year because there is really a focus on what we should be thankful for,” Sara noted. “It’s a perfect time to reflect on life, community, and the people we surround ourselves with. Each year, my family spends a day together with no distractions such as phones, TVs, etc., and we have a big breakfast, make a gingerbread house, watch the National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and take a drive around town to look at Christmas lights in the evening. Sometimes we drive on our own and other times we rent a limo and enjoy some seasonal drinks to add to the adventure. This entire day is dedicated to actively doing something together as a family. We also enjoy going to my mom’s house and having a Pajama Day where everyone wears PJs and we eat, drink, and play board or card games all day. It’s so much fun and the laughter is contagious! Other things we have done include attending the Nutcracker or a Christmas musical of some sort. On a personal level, I’ve started a new tradition of giving my kids a new Christmas ornament each year so that they have ornaments to decorate their own tree when they grow up.”
Sara also creates ways to bring holiday cheer into her business. To get her team into the spirit, she decorates the shop in Christmas decor; they have an annual ugly sweater contest where they let their customers vote on who has the ugliest sweater; they host a Neighborhood Holiday Open House during which they offer discounts, hot chocolate, and treats to customers; they partner with a few other businesses to go Christmas caroling in nursing homes; and they bring in lots of baked goods to share with each other!
All of these are such great ideas for business teams to adopt during the holidays, and Sara has one more idea to offer as well.
“A great way to get into the holiday spirit is designing your own holiday centerpiece with fresh greens and holly!” Sara exclaimed. “One of my favorite things that Fields Floral has to offer is our DIY Wine & Design events. We open our doors and invite you and your group to participate in a class where we design a centerpiece or arrangement that you can take home and put on your dining room table or desk at work. The theme varies each month, and we provide all the supplies and snacks, so all you have to do is show up, relax and let your creativity run wild. This is perfect for team building, a girl’s night, family outing, or simply to try something new. While we host a public event each month, we also do private parties which can accommodate up to 20 people.”
“A service we don’t talk much about is our Christmas tree decorating,” Sara added. “We will come to your home, business, or church and decorate your tree so you don’t have the hassle of putting up decor and taking it all down. Plus, if you’re looking for a unique gift option, our monthly floral membership program is a gift that keeps on giving. We deliver an arrangement to whomever you choose once a month, and you don’t have to worry about calling us for those hard-to-remember occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, etc. because we get all that information up front and take care of it for you. If you sign up for this program before December 31, we will give you free delivery each month in 2020!”
Sara left us with a lot of inspiration going into the holidays, such as driving around in style to look at Christmas lights! We happen to know a great company to work with to make this happen: Tailored Dreams Party Buses. They just announces a special new service—their party bus holiday light tour! They will take your group around town in one of their decked out luxury party buses to see all of the best lit houses in a fun and exciting way. One feature that adds to the experience of riding in a party bus is lighting options, which allows you to get in the festive mood with red, green, and white lights on your ride. The clients they serve are always impressed by the level of professionalism they receive every time they ride with Tailored Dreams. It’s good to know you’ll be working with clean, respectful, friendly, and experienced drivers.
Speaking of best lit houses, it’s about time to start putting up your Christmas lights and holiday decorations. You don’t want to be the only one on your street not showing any holiday spirit. Sadly, many people don’t do any decorating because they are too busy or they might have physical limitations. This is where Heroes Holiday Lighting comes in.
“We provide full residential Christmas lighting packages so homeowners can turn their yard into a winter wonderland without all the hassle of set up, maintenance, tear down, and storage.” Taylor Olberding told us. “We are also proud to partner with Holiday Bright Lights, a designer and manufacturer in LED Light Links, so we can do commercial roofline applications as well. Holiday decor at your office fosters a sense of community and cheer, which boosts workplace morale among teams and consumer spending in retail stores. So let us help create spectacular displays for your home or business!”
Something else you and your family can do together is attend one of the Nebraska Repertory Theatre’s The Holiday Cabaret 2019 performances. In each show, holiday music will be performed by emerging artists, surprise guests, and your favorite Rep performers. Held in the Temple Building, The Holiday Cabaret is a family-friendly production featuring Jackie Allen, an American jazz vocalist, composer, and educator. She has released over a dozen records. Allen is perhaps best known for her interpretations of classic jazz ballads and transformation of contemporary tunes. She will be joined on stage by Hans Sturm and Tom Harvill. This performance would be a great way to entertain guests coming from out of town.
The Nebraska Repertory Theatre creates innovative theatrical experiences in order to challenge the heart, ignite the imaginations, promote an inclusive community, and inspire the next generation of theatre artists.
The Rep isn’t the only spot you can get your theatrical and musical fix. Screamers Dining and Cabaret, known as the house of the singing servers, offers a dining and entertainment experience like no other in Lincoln. With nightly live musical performances provided by the talented staff, you can treat your holiday guests to dinner and a show! Located in the Haymarket, Screamers is a great place to take your family, friends, or coworkers for some memorable bonding.
“Whether it’s a party of 20 or 100, you are guaranteed to impress your guests when you introduce them to Screamers’ chic atmosphere, delicious cuisine, and amazing talent!” Exclaimed Kevin Witcher, owner and one of the main performers at Screamers Dining and Cabaret. “Talk to me more about renting out Screamers for your next event!”
Kevin also told us about some upcoming holiday events that Screamers will be hosting. On December 19, you can enjoy “An A Cappella Christmas” featuring a cappella groups from UNL. In addition, Kevin is planning a Scarlet & Cream Singers Reunion Christmas Show. Watch Screamers’ website and Facebook page for dates to be posted for this event! Also, it’s been announced that the Return of Stand Up Comedy will hit the stage at Screamers very soon, so stay tuned for information on that as well. (Retraction note: last month’s issue had incorrect information about upcoming events at Screamers. There will not be a wine or beer pairing and the NYE festivities have not yet been announced.)
Another activity that all of the family could enjoy is a couple fun rounds of bowling! We spoke to Jennifer Davis-Korn from 48 Bowl, Inc. to ask about the holiday specials they are offering.
“At both of our 48 Bowl centers in Lincoln, (Hollywood Bowl and Parkway Lanes) we love the holidays! It’s our favorite time of year to host family and friend gatherings, office parties, and impromptu celebrations. The holidays are also a time we like to give back to the community. Strike Out Hunger is a signature event we’ve been hosting for several years over the long Thanksgiving weekend, and it’s a great way for families to enjoy some open bowling fun at a discount while supporting others in need. This year’s event will take place November 27 through December 2. Guests who bring in a non-perishable food or personal care item will receive 25% off their open bowling purchase. We suggest bringing one item per person in your group. All items are donated at the end of the drive to the Food Bank of Lincoln. Our goal is to be able to donate 2,000 lbs of food this year.”
“Over the December holidays, we also offer our Winter Break Special (two games of bowling and shoe rental for just $8 per person) during the weekdays that school is out,” Jennifer added. “Finally, because bowling is a popular activity during the colder months, especially around the holidays, we always recommend, at the very least, calling ahead to the center where you want to bowl at to inquire about lane availability. While we have many opportunities for open play, we may be full at times with leagues and group reservations. We highly recommend that you make reservations at least three days in advance.”
The next place we want to highlight doesn’t require reservations—just pop in for a delicious warm seasonal drink in the relaxed environment at Rock ‘n’ Joe Coffee Bar!
“All season long, Rock ‘n’ Joe provides an atmosphere filled with holiday cheer and specialty holiday drinks,” Owner Dennis Nienhueser informed us. “Plus, every child dreams of meeting the big man himself—Santa Claus! So this year, bring your kids to Rock ‘n’ Joe on December 14, 9–11 a.m., to take a photo with good ol’ Saint Nick.”
While you’re in, don’t forget to check out the gift cards and baskets at Rock ‘n’ Joe. Gift cards are valid during all of the special events and performances that Rock ‘n’ Joe hosts regularly, so it’s not just a gift card to any regular coffee shop! You’re gifting them with an experience to live music, a workshop, or even karaoke.
On that note, giving the gift of a shared experience with someone is a special way of letting that person know how much you care. Not every gift can be wrapped! Erika Jensen, owner of The Chocolate Season, agrees!
“I think time spent with friends and family is always the best gift,” she said. “Budgeting time in your day to take your best friend a box of chocolates to enjoy while you catch up on life or taking your grandparent out for a coffee date is something that will always make an impression and give you both something to look forward to.”
When it comes to holiday traditions, Erika and her husband Brad are “live tree” people—so every year they make a point to go pick out a tree (Erika is team Charlie Brown tree) and cut it down, then they haul all the decorations out of the basement to start sorting through.
“Then of course, we make cookies a few weeks later and that’s a whole event of its own!” Erika exclaimed.
For the holidays, The Chocolate Season will have seasonal extended hours to help alleviate rushing from work just to pick up a gift, or it’ll give you a reason to get out of the house with the kids when it’s super cold and they need a change of scenery!
“We also ship nationwide for gifts bought online or in-store and offer many seasonally themed treats for holiday parties.” Erika informed us.
When we asked Erika for advice on ways to spread holiday cheer at work and at home, she noted that you can never go wrong with an ugly sweater contest!
“That is always a great conversation starter at work.” Erika said. “Another fun thing to do is caroling. I know many assisted living and retirement homes that would appreciate a sweet song or two, and then you can follow that up with a cookie exchange or soup supper. It doesn’t take much more than a smile to spread some cheer!”
Erika’s words reminded us how important it is to put in a little extra effort to make the holidays just as special for the seniors in our lives and our community.
“If you have a friend or family member who is experiencing the challenges of aging, consider setting aside dedicated time to them,” encouraged Kristine Dykeman-Schoening with Bridge to Better Living. “Be festive, positive and creative when letting your loved one know how thankful you are for them. Any time spent together is a memory.”
Bridge to Better Living has years of experience with seniors and believes the best gifts are from the heart and unwrappable, such as offering to clean their house, cooking meals to enjoy both now and later, joining them in watching a favorite movie or arranging a home-safety check so they feel safe and secure…these are all notable gifts for the senior in your life. However, the best gift just might be a call to set up a consultation with a transition consultant at Bridge to Better Living. This free service helps make transitioning to a senior living community smooth and successful.
“The best way to enjoy life is to focus on others,” Kristine added. “This is an eternal gift and is always returned to the giver. At Bridge to Better Living, we have the opportunity to build a relationship with each client and family’s situation. Our services allow families to concentrate on the good times, reminisce on the past, and focus on creating new memories with loved ones.”
Making memories really is what the holidays are all about. This is why Jen Miseno, event coordinator at Sun Valley Lanes, wanted to take this opportunity to encourage our readers to plan an outing!
“Whether it’s for the entire family or one-on-one experience, these times will be remembered long after any tangible gift.” Jen said. “Doing something together as a family is a great way to make memories that will last a lifetime. Why not go HyperBowling? It does not matter your age, size, or skill level. Everyone can play and anyone can win. From the youngest in the family to the most experienced, no one will feel like they can’t take part in the activity.”
“This season, we are offering a special on gift cards.” Jen added. “When you purchase a $25 gift card, we will throw in an extra $5 bonus arcade credit! It’s just another way to help stretch those holiday dollars.”
Jen also left us with some advice on how to spread holiday cheer at work or at home: “Be kind! It’s that simple. The holidays can be a stressful time for a lot of people. Treat others as you’d like to be treated and create a more friendly atmosphere around you. When you exude happiness, those around you will follow suit.”
Annie Bohling, events coordinator for The Nebraska Club, shared a similar sentiment when we talked to her about making this time of year a time of extra gratitude and joy.
“It is fun unwrapping a gift, but I think the hand-written card that comes with the gift is even more meaningful,” Annie said. “Just taking the time to stop and give someone a genuine compliment about their personality, attitude, work ethic, or something of substance goes such a long way.”
Annie also shared a holiday tradition of her own: “A few years ago, I started the tradition of taking my oldest niece ice skating at the John Breslow Ice Hockey Center in Lincoln’s Haymarket. Since then, younger nieces and some of my siblings have joined. It’s fun to watch young ones (and old ones) get more comfortable on the ice with each round!”
The Nebraska Club is looking forward to celebrating their 65th anniversary as a private club with a party for members in December, as well as their annual Thanksgiving buffet and a New Year’s Eve four-course meal. That doesn’t mean non-members can’t enjoy Downtown Lincoln views from 20 floors up! The Nebraska Club also rents out their spaces for holiday parties, and they would love to host you and your family, friends, or colleagues. They also provide guest passes.
Two other downtown venues that each offer great event space for hosting a holiday gathering are Talon Room and Graduate Lincoln. While Talon Room is unmatched as far as rustic charm goes, Graduate Lincoln is known for its vibrancy. Both venues offer something different and can handling everything from event setup to a full-service bar.
It’s common for businesses to host a holiday event to which they invite their team of employees and all of their clients. This is a great way to bring people together to not only celebrate the holidays but successful partnerships. It can be an open house, come-and-go concept, or it can take place at a designated time with a dinner and a program—it’s totally up to the business! If organizing a party is a little out of the realm of possibilities for your business, you should still consider a gesture that will show employees and clients alike that you appreciate their commitment to your company.
One way to say thank you to your employees and clients is with unique gifts from Shirts101, a family-owned and Lincoln-based company that offers screen print, embroidery, and promotional products. In addition, their designers create incredible artwork to fit your apparel, promotional product, or business needs! They take pride in creating long-lasting customer relationships, and they back up their products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Some featured holiday items that Shirts101 can create for your valued employees and clients include wireless Bluetooth earpods with a charging case, corporate apparel, custom aprons, cozy blankets, gift boxes and so much more! Whatever you need to make your company stand out, Shirts101 can handle the job for you.
You can even get your company logo on bags of coffee beans from Ahroma Specialty Coffee! For those who are not familiar with Ahroma Specialty Coffee, it is the roasted coffee brand of R.U. Nuts Co. Their unique partnerships with small family farms give them access to the top 5% of all coffee grown in the world. They source single origin beans from around the world and blend them into delicious espresso and signature blends. They best part? They are a locally-owned company that got its start here in the Midwest, and they don’t over price their coffee. Start ordering Ahroma Specialty Coffee for your office or home, and you can even send bags to friends as a Christmas gift.
“R.U. Nuts Co. does custom blending and packaging for national and regional chains, as well as individual coffee shops,” explained the owner, Charlotte Ralston. “Your name is your most important asset, and we want to help you market it even through your gift giving efforts! R.U. Nuts can custom blend a trail mix, wrapped candy mix, or any blend you can dream up. We can also custom roast and blend a coffee just for you. Plus, our gift baskets have something that everyone will enjoy, and we can include your promotional item, company mug, or other items you provide.”
As for gifts that you get for those extra special people in your life like your mother or significant other, you might be doubtful about finding an amazing quality gift for less than $100 these days. That’s not the case at Sartor Hamann Jewelers though!
“Visit our SouthPointe or Downtown Lincoln location to try on our new LaFonn Jewelry collection!” Exclaimed Monica Milana, the downtown store manager. “Have you ever dreamed of owning a one-carat diamond, perhaps upgrading your current wedding ring or a special pendant to surprise your loved one? Now is your chance! Sartor Hamann has an amazing holiday offer of $99 per month financing. The LaFonn collection is all about providing every woman an opportunity to own a stunning piece of exquisitely designed jewelry at a price that is within reach. The pieces include earrings, bracelets, necklaces made out of precious metals, simulated diamonds, and colorful gemstones. You’ll fall in love with LaFonn’s glittery accessories, perfect for any holiday party or travel entourage. You can even personally hand select your choice of a diamond in a ring, necklace, or special design!”
As always, we want to remind our readers how important it is to take care of yourself this holiday season. Giving to others is important, but giving back to yourself is crucial for you to be able to enjoy this time with the people who love you. John Aguirre from Ovation Salon gave us some holiday self-care tips.
“From fighting crowds at shopping malls to dealing with family members who you never see eye-to-eye with, a lot of people have a feeling of dread going into the season,” John admitted. “This season, I recommend treating yourself to a facial or a new hair-care treatment. One of the top killers of holiday enjoyment is caring too much about how everyone else’s holiday experience is going while ignoring your own. That’s why I encourage everyone to take time for themselves this holiday season, so they can feel the same joy they no doubt bring to the table. This is the reason I love my job so much. I don’t simply cut hair, I give people the confidence to be themselves even when they’re overwhelmed in their personal and/or professional life.”
This season, Ovation Salon has a deal that any person who schedules their appointment in November receives five dollars off any service. This is just a way to alleviate a little of the financial strain the holiday season often causes.
Ovation Salon is an experience. Not only do they provide superior hair services, they also provide an atmosphere that focuses on you feeling comfortable and relaxed. Their professionally trained stylists and estheticians offer a wide variety of salon services at affordable prices. Walk-ins are welcome, and they always offer free consultations. Treat yourself this holiday season with a relaxing day at the salon!
In addition, while it might not sound that “relaxing” to some, don’t forget to still make time to exercise. The winter time is difficult for people because the cold temperatures make them want to stay inside, but staying active is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Exercise makes you happier about yourself and your situation. Even though your schedule gets busier this time of year, almost everyone has at least 30 minutes to dedicate to physical activity. The need for a quick yet productive workout has caused many people to turn to 9Round Fitness.
9Round is a specialized fitness center that brings boxing and kickboxing fitness training to the average person in a convenient, affordable, 30-minute, full body circuit format. The workouts consist of nine, three-minute stations of activities that include cardio, weight training, abdominal exercises, and kicks and punches on 100-pound, double-end, upper-cut, and speed bags. There are no class times, trainers are always on site to motivate and lead the workouts, and routines change daily, giving members a fresh workout every time they come in. We highly recommend visiting the awesome trainers at one of 9Round’s two Lincoln locations—84th and Holdrege and 27th and Old Cheney. Members can go to either location. So get in a good routine of exercising, especially before Thanksgiving hits!
Do your part to make the holidays a little more cheerful for everyone around you! The best way to do this is by reaching out for help when you can in order to take some of the stress off your shoulders. We hope you’re able to take time to look around and be thankful for the people and blessings in your life.