With a year like no other in 2020, we’re all ready to fall back to familiar ground. Think holidays. Of course, the season is sure to look different this year—like everything else—but holiday cheer, time with loved ones, and the spirit of giving are sure to make this winter a special one regardless. You don’t have to start singing Jingle Bells just yet, but believe it or not, it’s time to start working on plans so you can truly enjoy the season. That’s why we’re kicking off this three-part holiday series by talking about what you can do to have a stress-free holiday season at work and home.

First and foremost, we want to remind you that this has been a particularly hard year for your favorite local stores, restaurants, and businesses. We encourage you, with everything we have, to make sure your favorite mom-and-pop businesses feel the holiday spirit by making them your choice for holiday shopping, dining, and family and employee celebrations. Take a stroll through downtown and the Haymarket and look for considerate, intentional gifts for all your loved ones and staff. Your gifts will come from the heart for both recipients and for your business community alike.

If your family travels to spend time together at Christmas, plan early and have them come to Lincoln for the festivities. You can go all-out with decorations, have them fly into the Lincoln Airport (LNK; www.lincolnairport.com), and treat them to all that our community has to offer. Welcome them with the smell of fresh-baked cookies, festive light displays, and paper-cut snowflakes. Finally, be sure to plan some fun outings in Lincoln—there are plenty of family-friendly entertainment options and prime hotels that will treat your family like their own. Don’t worry, area business owners have worked diligently to make everything safe for everyone, so you can relax and enjoy yourselves and each other. We talked to about a dozen local business operators you’re sure to want to consider in your holiday planning. Get your pen ready and start your planning list right away!

Light it Up!

Terry Neemann

Terry Neemann

You can’t think about Christmas without thinking about decorating your home and property with colorful, shimmering lights to share your celebration of the gifts of the season. This year you have a fabulous new option for lighting up the holidays or every day, as Neemann & Sons (neemannandsons.com) recently introduced Halo Lights to their lineup of innovative construction products. Not only can you show off your Christmas spirit with lights for the season, but these lights serve up a fantastic, new permanent solution to all of your outdoor lighting needs.

Halo Lights are sure to make your home the envy of the neighborhood year-round, but you can definitely WOW everyone with a holiday display that shines like no other. You’ll get fully customizable light colors, brightness levels, and animation with endless combinations and opportunities.

“Halo Lights are more than Christmas lights. They are for every occasion.” said Neemann & Sons Owner Terry Neemann. “You’ll never have to worry about storing lights, hanging lights or replacing bulbs again!”
The lights are waterproof, climate-tested, and long-lasting, but are installed to be sleek, with a low-profile custom fit and color to go with your particular style and desired extravagance. All you have to do is get in touch with Neemann & Sons today and get your Halo Lights installed in time for the 2020 holiday season!

Beef it Up!

Joe Finegan

Joe Finegan

When you’re thinking about holiday planning in Lincoln, you can’t help but think of food, and if you’re looking for a premium eating or gifting experience, you can’t help but think of Certified Piedmontese (www.piedmontese.com) beef. After all, what’s the best way to get to someone’s heart? Their stomach, of course!

From gift boxes to steaks to roasts, ground beef, and other assorted cuts, Certified Piedmontese goes above and beyond for business-gifting clients and celebrations alike. From custom-curated gift collections to preset gift boxes ranging from $50 to $200, all options, whether preset or custom, come at a tremendous value. It’s never too early to start planning for the holidays, either, especially if you have a long list of recipients or are looking for more customization with the deliverable beef gift. These are both things that these folks can execute.

“At Certified Piedmontese beef, we pride ourselves on our quality, including unmatched nutritional benefits alongside a premium eating experience, said Joe Finegan. “You are bringing the steakhouse home. We are proud to afford businesses with the opportunity for employees, customers, and clients to create memories around their tables. For client gifting or bulk orders, Certified Piedmontese provides an unmatched level of customer service and complete customization, along with a variety of other options. Holiday gifting has never been this easy!”

With the crazy year that 2020 has been, it’s more important than ever to Certified Piedmontese that it is opening up its Casa Bovina restaurant space for private parties, so businesses can host holiday parties with employees or clients. You can make reservations for Sunday through Thursday, and their space can accommodate up to 70 people. Whether you order online or eat in, you’re sure to be more than pleased with this delectable beef and more.

“Our beef is far and above the rest out there in being leaner and healthier, while not sacrificing tenderness or flavor,” Joe said, “and since we have started ramping up our efforts with holiday gifting, we are able to provide a high level of customization. It is one of the easiest decisions ever to gift with Certified Piedmontese, and it’s a gift that recipients will be raving out throughout the year!”

Shine the Light on Your Brand

Amy Doele

Amy Doele

A sure-fire way to light up your holiday guests’, clients’, and employees’ lives this Christmas is to work with Flicker Promotions (www.flickerpromotions.com) and create some unique, personalized, useful gifts for them. Classic for 2020 are Flicker’s customizable UV cellphone sanitizers, which can disinfect your cellphone, Air Pods, keys, or even your credit cards using UV light. These also double as wireless phone chargers. Brand them with your company logo as a gift to your employees and clients.

Or you might consider having some family-branded shirts done to mark your holiday celebration together, and maybe add in some Christmas-light necklaces or neckties to keep everyone in the festive mood. The gift possibilities are literally endless—and affordable.

“Gifts are a great way to show your true appreciation and can be customized with a logo or fun saying to suit your recipients,” said Flicker Promotions Owner Amy Doele. “Decoration can be understated, such as laser etching on a blanket, or a bigger statement, such as a colorful Yeti tumbler. We can also provide all types of customized napkins, cups, tablecloths, or even signage for your 2020 holiday parties and celebrations.”

If you’re having trouble coming up with an idea for an employee or client gift this Christmas, don’t hesitate to ask. Amy has seen the full spectrum of ideas blossom and is happy to help you brainstorm for the most useful, meaningful, and effective gift that both pleases the recipient and helps you build your business brand.

“At Flicker Promotions, I can help anyone customize virtually anything, whether than be a French press for the office, a custom watch, or even personalized golf gloves,” Amy said. “I can help you find the gifts that will help you make the personal connections with your clients or staff, at the same time giving them something unique that they will appreciate and use.”

The Royal Treatment

Cheryl Deiro

Cheryl Deiro

Whether you’re looking for a fabulous place to put your guests up for the week or a great place to stop for a drink or dessert before and after your holiday events downtown, The Kindler Hotel (thekindlerhotel.com) has you covered. They serve up a grand opportunity to honor special clients in style by way of staying in one of the hotel’s upscale guest rooms or suites, be it for a night or two or the whole of Christmas week. The rooms all include a workspace, honor bar, robe and slippers, in-room safes, and heated bathroom floors, and their suites add a sitting area separate from the bedroom for entertaining or just relaxing.

Down in the lobby area, you’ll love the fireplaces that provide a warm and cozy ambiance for hotel guests and families to gather, and their patio will be open throughout the holidays, with space heaters available for the not-so-warm afternoons and evenings. The Kindler Hotel is the only hotel of its kind in Lincoln, resembling a boutique hotel usually found only in large metropolitan U.S. cities and in Europe. The hotel staff goes above and beyond to ensure that guests have everything they need to have an exceptional experience, and they take great pride in making all guests feel welcome and at home during their stay.

“We offer luxurious accommodations and exceptional, personal hospitality for all of our guests,” said Kindler Director of Sales Cheryl Deiro. “The smaller, boutique style, with just 45 guest rooms, is particularly attractive amid COVID restrictions because it bodes well for natural social distancing. Our Boitano’s Lounge is a great place to hang out and relax. Guests will have access to Boitano’s both after their shopping experiences in the Haymarket and downtown and prior to other evening events they might be planning.”
Locals and guests alike come together in the lavishly appointed lounge to enjoy uniquely crafted cocktails and a seasonal dining menu that’s sure to have a holiday twist and is developed by world-renowned Olympic skater and Food Network staff Brian Boitano. Savor satisfying dishes with locally sourced ingredients in a hip and welcoming atmosphere. Boitano’s Lounge is the perfect place to sit with family, friends, or coworkers and watch the colorful lights, falling snow, and holiday bustling out the impressive picture windows.

The Answer is YES!

Kevin Knudson

Kevin Knudson

If you want to treat your employees or family to some good down-home holiday cooking, consider Greenfield’s (www.greenfieldscafe.com) restaurant. Open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, they’ll accommodate you for scrumptious breakfast, brunch, or lunch that will remind you of holidays of yore. Or, you might choose to host a holiday party at the Greenfield’s location, where they can accommodate up to 100 people in the evenings and create a menu especially for your group, including full alcohol and non-alcohol beverage service.

If it suits you better, Greenfield’s can also cater your meal and set-up to any venue in Lincoln.

“Greenfield’s has been serving Lincoln and the surrounding area for more than 12 years,” said Greenfield’s Kevin Knudson. “As an independent restaurant, when it comes to the holidays, there are no rules. Our team has the ability to make a celebration as creative or as simple as our guests want. Whether it is a small gathering for brunch with friends or an elaborate five-course meal for your company’s holiday event, we can develop a menu that will fit your needs. Our chefs are creative in their approach and can design a meal plan that not only meets your culinary expectations but also fits your budget. Our event planners can work through all the details with you to make sure all your needs are met!”

If you think it’s too early to start planning for your holiday celebrations, think again. Now is the perfect time to get started to have the best chance to get the dates and times you’re looking for and to allow more time for changes, RSVP’s, and ensure that your holiday event is stress-free. With Greenfield’s, you won’t have to worry about COVID, either, because they take food safety and providing a healthy environment very seriously. They follow all guidelines and ensure that all team members wear the proper PPE, frequently sanitize all areas of the restaurant, provide sanitizer for all guests, and use social distancing to limit contact with others, whether serving guests on-site or catering to another location.

“Whatever makes this holiday season something special for you is what we make happen,” Kevin said. “Our philosophy is this: The answer is yes. Now what’s the question?”

Sweet and Simple

Erika Jensen

Erika Jensen

When it gets down to the brass tacks, what’s a holiday without chocolate? For giving, sharing, or filling stockings, there’s no better place for chocolate during the holiday season in Lincoln than The Chocolate Season (www.thechocolateseason.com).

“If you want to send an intentional gift but aren’t sure what someone would like, you can never go wrong with a classic box of chocolates, a dozen freshly baked brownies, or some delectable chocolate covered strawberries,” Owner Erika Jensen said. “Whether you’re gifting some of our delicious treats to your neighbor down the street or your in-laws in a different state, The Chocolate Season can send personalized goodies that are sure to make the recipient feel loved.”

Erika said the holidays are the perfect time for everyone to spread love, gratitude, and good cheer to the positive influences in their lives, and she is always thrilled when she gets to be a part of the process.
“If you go through all the time and effort to pick out a specific gift for someone, you want to be sure to include a personalized message. While most people will be appreciative of all gifts, the love filled note is what people truly remember. The Chocolate Season offers complimentary design services that can even include a business logo if it’s a gift to a client. We want to help you express your authentic gratitude from the beginning to the end of the gifting process. Be sure to pay attention to the little details and let us help you along the way.”

The Chocolate Season provides hand-crafted artisan chocolates in unique and traditional flavors alike. They have pre-put together gift boxes with premium quality treats, from thick, creamy slabs of fresh fudge to crunchy rocky road popcorn.

Like Grandma Used to Make

Sydney Stauffer

Sydney Stauffer

Remember walking into Grandma’s house at Christmas time? The smells of comfort food wafting through the air and the plenteous decorations, every one of which is attached to a story from someone’s childhood…Oh, and the pies, the pies, the pies! You can smell the blends of fruits and sugars and you just know that crust is going to be flaky and buttery to put the cherry on the top of grand meal you’re about to enjoy.

That’s a little what it’s like to walk into Stauffer’s Café & Pie Shoppe (www.staufferscafe.com) in Lincoln during the holidays—well every day, really. Well, it really still is grandma’s kitchen in many ways. In fact, General Manager Sydney Stauffer tells us the recipes they use today are all originals of her Grandmother Claridy Stauffer, who founded the shop with her son, Thad in 1996—and she’s still an important part of the pie-making process. You’ll be able to choose from more than 60 mouthwatering flavors, including everything from pumpkin cheesecake to strawberry rhubarb, banana cream, sour cream apple, French silk, gooseberry, key lime, Dutch apple, peanut butter banana, sour cream raisin, peanut butter Snickers, mincemeat, butterscotch pecan, Hawaiian, and so much more.

“Join us every weekday for a different, homemade special for breakfast, lunch, or dinner,” Sydney said. “We offer pies by the slice or whole six-inch or nine-inch pies. Be sure to order in advance—24 hours ahead most of the time but at least a week ahead around major holidays!”

Stauffer’s Café & Pie Shoppe is far more than a pie shop, though. In fact, is wasn’t always a pie shop at all, but the addition of Grandma’s pies is what made the café famous and brought it to the forefront of Lincoln culinary delights. Truth is, the hearty Nebraska comfort food on the Stauffer’s menu will leave you comfortably numb. The all-day breakfast menu includes all of your favorite eggs, omelets, platters, hash browns, muffins, rolls, delicious plain and fruit-topped, homemade whole-wheat buttermilk pancakes, Belgian waffles, and some of the best chicken-fried steak you’ll ever sink your teeth into.

The breakfast menu is just the tip of the menu iceberg, with a full slate of sandwiches, burgers, melts, baskets, and dinners including pork tenderloin, ham steak, chopped beef steak, sirloin steak, chicken breast, home-fried chicken, Frito pie, chicken livers and gizzards, seafood, catfish, salmon steak, and more, including a full kids’ menu with all your little ones’ favorites. Take your family or staff to Stauffer’s Café and Pie Shoppe for a special holiday meal or celebration, and they’re sure to thank you for a long time to come!

Twinkle, Twinkle

DeeDee Loomis

DeeDee Loomis

When you’re in Lincoln for the holiday season—especially if you have extended family in town—there is one adventure you definitely want to plan in advance: a premiere tour of Christmas lights in the area. Tailored Dreams Party Buses (www.tailoreddreamslimousines.com) runs a fantastic holiday-light tour, and spots are expected to fill up quickly!

“Definitely reach out to us soon if you want to guarantee a night to take our holiday light tour!” Owner DeeDee Loomis noted. “The tour is family-friendly, and you and your group can blast some of your favorite Christmas jingles on our bumping Bluetooth sound systems. We take groups around town in any of our 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 the lighting options, which allow you to get festive with red, green, and white lights on your ride. Our drivers are professional, clean, and respectful, not to mention cheerful and jolly! They will even recommend some great photo spots and snap some family pictures, if you want them to.”

Locally-owned by DeeDee and her husband Tyler, Tailored Dreams’ friendly drivers make all the difference. All passengers can feel safe and welcome, especially because they have multiple accessible buses in their fleet. They make everyone feel comfortable, so the experience is even more enjoyable.

A party bus provides a whole new level of excitement and endless fun for passengers of all ages, mainly because they provide enough space and amenities that make them stand out from regular vehicles. A party bus also provides you with a safe-but-stylish way to get around and spread the Christmas spirit.

“My enjoyment and interactions with people make my job a dream,” DeeDee said. “I’ve always been a people person, so getting to do something I love is so rewarding. If you have a good time, the clients will as well. As a driver, I get to set the tone for the event they’re heading toward, which is an amazing feeling. Plus, I get to drive big things. There isn’t anything I can’t drive now!”

Friendly Competition

Another family friendly activity you can plan for a large group is a day at the lanes! 48 Bowl, Inc. (www.48bowl.com/parkway-lanes.html) is a fun and unique venue for a holiday gathering of friends, family, or colleagues. Their two locations, Parkway Lanes and Hollywood Bowl, both have room for large or small groups alike. They also have fabulous catering and beverage services, a rocking music system, video screens, and, of course, premium bowling lanes.

“If you’re thinking of hosting a holiday party at Hollywood or Parkway, we do recommend that you book your date as soon as possible and start planning now,” Jennifer Davis-Korn with 48 Bowl advised us. “Our party packages are customizable and can include bowling and food and beverage options to suit your needs and budget. You can just work out the details of your specific event with our friendly staff. Our alleys have advanced music and video capabilities—and we’d be happy to blast some holiday jingles to delight your crowd! Have a company highlight slideshow or video? We can play that on our screens, too! If a group just wants to rent a party room, the bar areas at both locations are available for rent, as well.”

Group rates for 48 Bowl centers are listed on the website, so check out all the booking information you need there. When you are ready to book, you can navigate to the ‘Small Group Celebrations’ or ‘Large Group Reservations’ links from the home page.

Celebration Hotspots

Matthew Rogge

Matthew Rogge

With such a bizarre year already under our belts in 2020, it’s a particularly important year for recognizing the resilience and loyalty of your employees who have weathered the COVID storm with you. It’s been a tough year for everyone, for sure, so what better way to round it out than with a well-deserved holiday party or gathering? Thankfully, Lincoln offers up some fantastic venues to bring your team or family together for anything from an informal gathering with drinks and appetizers to a banquet meal, formal sit-down feast, or a full-on holiday extravaganza. The choice is yours.

One fantastic option for hosting a holiday event for the grown-ups you want to honor is to rent a space at The Talon Room (www.talonroom.com). It’s a perfect place for any social gathering, be it professional or personal and they have partnerships with a variety of local vendors, so they can plan and execute any event you can imagine. The Talon Room has a proven record of going above and beyond to create a holiday celebration that helps you ensure that your employees know how much they mean to you—and the folks at Talon Room will do all the heavy lifting for you. That way, you can kick back and make memories with the people who help your business succeed, even in the toughest of times!

“Being located in downtown Lincoln, we have a great location that is close to the many entertainment hotspots during the holidays,” said Talon Room Owner Matthew Rogge. “Our customer service also is next-to-none, as we go out of our way to make sure everyone is comfortable, happy, and treated with respect. Our location and quality of service are why so many companies bring their employees and clients back holiday after holiday!”

The Talon Room itself is a terrific venue that can host 50 to 250 guests with full seating and AV equipment. Talon Catering also can satisfy all of your catering needs, within the Talon Room or at a separate location of your choosing. Their gourmet appetizers and entrée options can meet any budget and time of day and, for libations, their bar services can be brought to your event or you can use their full-service in-house bar, which has a history of making guests say ‘Wow’!

Another terrific venue option for your holiday gatherings is Graduate Lincoln, which can accommodate various party sizes in their multiple event rooms—and if you expect out-of-town guests for the Christmas season, it’s a perfect option for both because you can put them up in the beautiful Graduate Lincoln hotel rooms. The Graduate prides itself on maintaining a playful atmosphere and vintage vibe with the spirit of Nebraska as its core inspiration, including a TopGolf Swing Suite, perfect for your holiday work party! They also have different ballroom sizes that you can have decorated to the hilt for the holidays and accommodate your family, friends, clients, employees, and anyone else you want to gift with a Christmas extravaganza. The best way to ensure that you throw the party of the season—with the least amount of stress—at Graduate Lincoln is to contact them as fast in advance of the holidays as possible. You won’t regret it, and your guests will thank you for thanking them in style!

The PILLAR Restaurant Group (www.prgnebraska.com) offers the full spectrum of venues to serve your Christmas celebration needs, from the classy Venue Restaurant & Lounge and the Piedmont Bistro to the delicious signature tacos from the Cactus Modern Mexican & Cantina to the more casual Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs. However you look at it, PILLAR’s locally owned restaurants and bars have something to suite any holiday taste or style—and any size gathering. Your family or employees will love them all, as every option is fresh and delicious!

Venue Restaurant & Lounge (www.yourvenue.net) creates chef-inspired meals made from only the freshest, gourmet ingredients and provides a beautiful holiday-inspired ambiance, which combine to make it Lincoln’s premiere, fine-dining choice for Christmas celebrations. Your crew can enjoy mouthwatering, hand-cut steaks, including the Delmonico ribeye; hearth-baked dishes including house-made pizza dough and sauces like the smoky Gouda chicken and artichoke; and fresh seafood including scallops and tortellini and honey-garlic-glazed salmon. Whether you already have a place to host your holiday fete or want to reserve space for a nice staff-appreciation luncheon, Venue has you covered. They provide high-quality event catering and five private in-house dining rooms, ranging from 30 to 90 seats. Venue Restaurant & Lounge provides the impressive space, food, and services that your team won’t soon forget!

PILLAR’s Piedmont Bistro (piedmontbistro.com) is another excellent option for treating your employees over the holidays, offering everything from classy, quick, affordable luncheons to an exceptional happy hour at the Bistro Bar. Your guests will experience a welcoming environment and serious passion for handcrafted meals and seasonal cocktails. Their chef-inspired menu is full of unique takes on classic Midwestern comfort food, including everything from house-cut, dry-aged steaks to succulent duck breast to delicious wraps, burgers, salads, and sandwiches, including the Piedmontese flat iron sandwich with black garlic aioli, caramelized onions, feta, and arugula on sourdough. OK, YUM!

For lighter fare, you can’t go wrong with PILLAR’s Cactus Modern Mexican & Cantina (www.cactusmmc.com) and Goodcents Deli-Fresh Subs (goodcentssubs.com). Available for in-house, curbside pickup, delivery to your office—or catering to a location of your choice—your staff will know you care about them and will love the signature taco packs and handcrafted draft margaritas from Cactus, with tasty sides including rice, beans, and fire-roasted corn. If you want to keep things more casual, choose a platter of always-fresh Goodcents delectable pasta dishes or signature sub sandwiches, toasted subs, super-soft white or wheat bread, sliced-to-order meats, a full slate of fresh cheeses, and every sandwich topping you can imagine—and then some. Or you might choose a catered lunch for staff. If you really want to put the cherry on top for your clients, be sure to pick up some Goodcents gigantic cookies, including peanut butter, double chocolate chunk, and classic chocolate chip. They’ll thank you twice!

There’s no doubt that 2020 has served up blow after blow for local businesses, but you can give back twice this holiday, with a season of giving to your friends and family AND to the businesses that make the Lincoln community the biggest little town you know. They need your support more than ever—and in return, they’ll treat you to a holiday that you, your family, and your employees will never forget!