Holiday Planning in Lincoln, NE – 2018
This year, we are kicking off our three-part Holiday Series with tips on how to plan holiday related office parties and corporate outings, along with other seasonal considerations like decorating your place of business and gift giving.
It’s hard to believe it’s already that time of year! In the blink of an eye, the leaves will all be down and the Christmas lights will be up. Don’t let that stress you out, though. Let’s take a step back and start thinking about how we can get a head start on our holiday planning so that we can enjoy the all the excitement in the months ahead.
“Why does it always sneak up on us? It’s the same time each year, right?” Jokes Tami Nagle with Wilderness Ridge. “My favorite thing about the holidays is getting together with family and friends to look at the holiday lights. My grandson’s favorite lights are along the drive heading to Wilderness Ridge. Every tree lining the drive is lit, and when there is fresh snow, it looks like a winter wonderland. It’s a must see during the holidays!”
If you’ve ever driven through Wilderness Ridge this time of year, you know what Tami is talking about; the grounds are illuminated with colorful tree lights and other decorative touches. May this vision inspire you to take a similar approach to your own business!
“Don’t let your home or office building scream “bah humbug!” this holiday season,” urges David Hastreiter with Christmas Décor by Festive Expressions. “That would be unfortunate. Luckily, I can help you avoid such an oversight. It’s that time to put lights put up, and our team of professionals at Festive Expressions 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 or office. There are many reasons to decorate your commercial property for the holidays; trigger the holiday shopping mood, get noticed by highlighting your storefront, and it’s an opportunity to enhance company morale, just to name a few.
The decorating season is short, and our schedules tend to fill up by mid-November, so now is the time to give Festive Expressions a call if you haven’t already made plans for your holiday lighting.”
Tami Nagle goes on to say, “In terms of party planning, since the holidays are such a busy time for everyone, sometimes the perfect gift from an employer is a nice holiday appreciation lunch and the rest of the afternoon off to shop, run errands, etc. You don’t have to do the same old party your company hosts every year. Shake it up and have a festive breakfast or brunch. However, there are a lot of companies who enjoy renting out our banquet hall for an formal evening of celebration. There is something magical about Wilderness Ridge in the winter time—maybe it’s the whole log cabin thing we have going on.
Wilderness Ridge can accommodate small parties of eight in our private rooms, to larger parties of 275+. We know the holidays are stressful, so let us take the reins! Our experienced sales team is ready to take your plans and turn them into reality. Prime dates book fast. If your date is not flexible, book now (or earlier!). Book your holiday party at Wilderness Ridge by October 31 to receive 50% off room rental. Contact me for details and availability by calling (402) 434-5113.”
In our September issue, we talked about how entertaining clients is good for business because it allows relationships to grow. In the same vain, it’s important to do special things with and for the people you see at work everyday. The holiday season is a perfect time to apply this wisdom; there are more activities going on in the community around this time, so it’s easier to find something fun to do.
An activity that our team was really excited to learn about was Friends and Flowers, a new workshop being put on by Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers. If you haven’t heard of Burton & Tyrrell’s, they are a premiere florist here in Lincoln. This workshop is designed to please any flower enthusiast, or anyone just looking to do something fun and different! The best part is that these workshops will have holiday themes. So, whether it’s a Halloween or Christmas activity you decide to do, Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers will have supplies for your team to make a festive arrangement for the occasion.
“Get your office together and come to Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers for a chance to learn all sorts of tips and tricks on floral design and decorating. You can even bring wine and treats, if you like!” Encourages Gary Tharnish, owner of Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers. “You and your group will be immersed into the world of bouquets, centerpieces, and greenery. Choose between creating a fresh arrangement, or use silk flowers (artificial)—either one can be taken back to your office and used for a decorative piece to bring a little holiday cheer, and knowing that you made it with your office buddies will make it even better. It really is important to spend some casual time getting to know the people you see at work everyday. I can’t think of a better time to do this than the holiday season. Holidays are all about coming together and giving thanks for the people who have been placed in your life. If I can help facilitate those kind of interactions, that gives me a lot of joy. That is why I came up with Friends and Flowers! I’m offering private bookings for you and up to 11 colleagues. Let’s make something beautiful together.”
Another outing you and your coworkers could plan is taking in a show at the Lied Center. Once again, the Lied Center for Performing Arts has put together an outstanding season with the best in music, theater, and dance performances—and they kick off this month! The lineup includes the best of Broadway with shows like Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I, comedy legend Tim Allen, Hamilton’s Leslie Odom Jr., Chris Botti, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Ballet Folklórico De Mexico, Johnny Mathis – The Voice of Romance Tour, and the San Francisco Symphony, just to name a few. A notable show, specifically with the holidays in mind, is Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by GRAMMY® Award winner Chip Davis. In addition to being a holiday tradition for many families, the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Tour regularly attracts repeat attendance from multigenerational guests and is one of the longest-running tours in the music industry—so it’s something that both the eldest and youngest person in your office can enjoy. With a soundtrack that’s designed to bring the audience all feels, the show is referred to as the top selling act ever in the holiday music category by Business Week. The Lied Center, known as “Nebraska’s Home for the Arts,” is so excited to bring this show to Lincoln that they just added a second performance on December 20; one at 3 p.m. and another one at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, starting at $49, to these performances are available on the Lied Center’s website, by phone at (402) 472-4747, or at the Lied Center box office located at 301 N. 12th St. UNL students can purchase tickets at a 50% discount with a valid NCard, and children 18 and younger are eligible for half-price tickets.
If you don’t find your theatrical fix at the Lied Center, check out Screamers Dining and Cabaret in Lincoln’s Historic Haymarket District. This unique restaurant doesn’t just have good service, they have talented service! Your group will get a kick out of their singing waiters and waitresses, who are sure to have a few holiday numbers prepared for the months ahead. Screamers, inspired by the well-known UNL Scarlet & Cream singing group, is a full service, family-friendly bar and cabaret with a mouth-watering menu.
“When it comes to celebrating the holidays, especially with your employees, keep in mind that it’s a busy time for everyone,” advises Kevin Witcher, founder and owner (and one of the main performers!) of Screamers Dining and Cabaret. “Sometimes, keeping it simple is the best way to make something happen. At Screamers, your team can have dinner and a show all at once. It’ll feel like you did a lot, but in reality, you just spent a couple hours with some friends over great food, amazing drinks, and exceptional entertainment.
We will also be having our next wine pairing dinner in November, as well as a beer pairing event in December. Then, Screamers will wrap up the year with a New Year’s Eve masquerade ball.”
We agree with Kevin; holiday celebrations come in different shapes and sizes. For some businesses, something laid back, like grabbing a bite to eat after work, makes the most sense. That time can be used to exchange gifts or going around the table to give everyone the opportunity to share what they are most thankful for. If keeping things casual and low-key isn’t your style, let’s talk about planning the corporate holiday party of the century! Okay, maybe that’s dramatic… but Lincoln does have some pretty awesome venue options that would make a great space for hosting a festive celebration. If you’re interested in a venue that allows your group to partake in a little healthy competition, Jennifer Davis-Korn with 48 Bowl, Inc. has just the place for you.
“At 48 Bowl, Inc. (dba Parkway Lanes and Hollywood Bowl) we LOVE holiday parties! It’s our favorite time of year. Both of our centers offer unique spaces to host your gathering, whether its for family and friends or a company celebration. All of our party packages are completely customizable and can include bowling and food and beverage options to suit your needs and budget. We offer reservations for a few lanes, or a private rental of the whole center. Otherwise, if a group just wants to rent a party room, the bar areas at both locations are also available for rent. 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!”
Jennifer further advises, “If you are thinking of hosting a holiday party at Parkway or Hollywood, however, we do recommend that you start planning now and book your date as soon as possible. Groups have been booking December, January and February times since June! Before you call or go online, it’s best to have this information ready:
- What date(s) and time(s) are you interested in booking?
- How many guests will be attending?
- Do you want to add food and/or beverage service to your package?
- Do you have a budget? (We can help you build a package that meets your group’s needs.)
Group rates for 48 Bowl centers are listed on our 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 on the home page. If you need further assistance, have more than 60 people in your group, or want to reserve one of our bar areas only, please contact our group sales and events coordinator, Terri Jo Podraza, at (402) 483-7763 or email@example.com.”
A lot of companies use the holiday season as an opportunity to do an end of the year recap, hand out bonuses, or recognize outstanding employees. Depending on the size of the company, a banquet like this may require a large facility.
“Our grand ballroom is able to accommodate groups as large as 800 people,” noted Terri Carlson with Holthus Convention Center, located in York, NE right off of I-80.
“Our beautiful 40,000 square-foot facility is versatile enough to meet all your event needs. I’d have to say that my favorite part about events this time of year at Holthus is the beautiful views of Nebraska landscapes that can be seen through our large windows. Being surrounded by miles of farmland, the harvest time is beautiful in the fall; and in the winter, guests get to marvel at the backdrop of a real-life winter wonderland.
In a lot of ways, a corporate holiday party of this size is a lot like a wedding reception. There can be a plated or buffet-style dinner, comments made by the president or executives of the company (kind of like toasts), and then as the night goes on… the drinks start flowing and the dance floor gets popping! Our space is no stranger to these type of events. With state-of-the-art audiovisual and lighting systems, along with fast Wi-Fi and video capabilities, Holthus Convention Center is the perfect destination for your company’s holiday party. And if transportation home afterwards is a concern, don’t dismiss the opportunity to make your time in York, NE last a little longer. There are over 800 lodging rooms within five blocks of our venue!”
A similar space to keep in mind when selecting a venue for your holiday festivities is the Graduate Lincoln, the first boutique hotel to grace our city. There is truly nothing traditional or boring about this place. With a variety of event spaces within the hotel, all varying in size, along with an in-house restaurant and over 230 themed guest rooms, you and your colleagues won’t even need (or want) to leave the property! However, with over 40 booming downtown bars and restaurants within walking distance, no one will blame you for wandering around a little to take it all in.
Another downtown venue option is Talon Room. We continue to hear good things about this space. With its underground, rustic vibe, it would make a neat spot for a Halloween-themed party. “Halloween is such a fun holiday because it allows people to get creative with their costumes,” commented Matthew Rogge with the Talon Room. “I love seeing people come together, especially people who don’t normally get to see each other in a social setting. This can be true for a lot of businesses and their staff. A costume contest could create some light-hearted competition amongst coworkers, and offering a prize for the winners is likely to increase participation.”
Tami Nagle also made a point to mention that a good holiday party has a great atmosphere. Look for a facility where everyone can enjoy really good food, an extensive drink list, and even better conversation. She also, like Matthew, suggested adding a theme—ugly sweaters, ‘white Christmas’ (everyone wears white), or a holiday costume party.
“A themed holiday party is a great way to encourage your staff to get into the spirit and let their imagination shine through… and it makes for a whole lot of fun!” agreed Eric Pomajzl with Venue Restaurant & Lounge. “I think what makes a holiday party a good party is the thought and attention to detail put into creating a festive environment. Putting forth that extra effort into the finer details, such as the decorations, activities, and music can really touch people, especially during the holiday season.
Venue Restaurant & Lounge boasts four private dining rooms that provide great spaces for holiday gatherings, large or small. We offer high-quality food utilizing fresh, local ingredients and can accommodate buffet style gatherings or plated meals. Our rooms are fully furnished and provide a warm and inviting atmosphere. Our knowledgeable event coordination team works with you to finalize the details while our dedicated event staff takes care of you the night of. Additionally, Venue Catering & Events gives you the opportunity to bring us to you! Our catering and events team offers you full-service: catering, bar, and staff—whether it’s in your home or at your office building. We’ll take care of the details while you and your guests enjoy!”
Like Eric touched on, a holiday party should be intentionally planned. The goal is about making memories outside of the office, allowing you to build trust and even life-long friendships with the other people at your workplace. Employees who have friends at their job are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work.
Everyone has a fundamental need to belong. So, given that we spend the majority of our days submerged in our career, it’s important to foster positive connections within it. As an employer, consider it your responsibility to see that this is happening in one way or another. Here are some tips for employers that we’ve come up with:
Change up the scenery—It may be hard for employees to loosen up in the same place they’re expected to clock into and be productive at for eight hours a day, every day.
Stir the pot—If you see certain groups forming within your office and other individuals being left out, do what you can to mix things up to allow different people to interact and form connections.
Plan to make happy memories—You’ve heard it said that people who go through a painful or traumatic experiences together have an easier time forming a strong bond of friendship. Well, the same science applies with really happy experiences. These are the times in which inside jokes are made; things you can always look back at and smile about. So, going along with the theme of the story, organize a few parties or outings throughout the year.
“When it comes to creating a memorable event, making sure pictures are being taken is a good consideration to factor into your planning,” adds Daniel Anderson with Stratum Productions. “This is why our event production company offers photo booth rentals and our new #Printer service. Photo booths have been a long-time event staple. They allow attendees to capture special moments on a film strip that can be taken home or hung at the office. There is something fun about having a tangible momento to take with you for safe keeping. However, following the trend of social media, our #Printer (Hashtag Printer) services has become increasingly popular. It includes a custom-built kiosk that will automatically pick up Instagram and Twitter photos that include a specific hashtag. If you use this for your holiday party, you can assign a hashtag with your business name… something like ‘#SBMagHalloween18’! Anyone who uses that hashtag in their post can access it on the kiosk and get free prints with just the press of a button.”
Jen Miseno, event coordinator for Sun Valley Lanes, shared a coinciding point of view. “The best gifts I have ever received are the gifts of experiences,” she told us. “My favorite part of the holidays is doing something special with the people in your life. This usually means family or hometown friends, but don’t forget about your coworkers!
My advice is to do something different than you normally do. When planning, I try to gather as much information as possible ahead of time. 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. 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 retreat, but the groups who have celebrated with us have not been disappointed.
As a special treat, your office team could be one of the first in the world to play one of our exclusive Hyper Bowling games. HyperBowling is a new way to play, where anyone can win a game, regardless of skill level, and play to win! The games play more like an interactive video game, utilizing colored targets. As the games progress through higher levels, the targets start to grow, shrink and move, keeping the games fun and challenging. I’d suggest that you see for yourself what Hyper Bowling is all about by viewing one of the teaser videos on our website. Talk about a memorable experience!”
On the topic of gift giving, when you have that person who is hard to shop for or has everything they need, Jen suggests give them a gift card to come out and try one of Sun Valley Lane’s many unique, non-traditional bowling games, arcade games, food, or beverages.
There’s no doubt that there are mixed feelings about gift giving—some people love it, some people dread it. “My favorite part of the holidays is gift giving, but I’m not great at planning ahead. So, for everyone out there like myself I would say don’t panic; stay cool and enjoy the process,” counsels Cherie Travis with Rachel’s Boutique. “No matter the size or price of the gift, what means the most to me is knowing that the gift is given from the heart. I like to listen to family and friends as we are shopping together and surprise them with an item they liked but didn’t purchase for themselves. I would imagine that if you share an office space with other people, by now you’ve probably picked up on a few of their interests or tastes. Even if you just give someone a gift card to their favorite place to grab lunch on their break, that shows you put some thought into it.
I tend to like unexpected gifts, as well. At Rachel’s Boutique, we try to find unique items that aren’t found at the big box stores. We can also order quantities on gift items for employees, such as Brighton clocks or frames that would make a perfection addition to a work desk and lanyards that are a actual necklace. I’ve actually had businesses host events at our store where they give their employees a spending limit and the freedom to pick out an item of their choice that falls within that price range. This way, the business is still buying their employees a gift, but in a way that ensures everyone gets something they actually need or want. I think it’s a pretty smart idea; knocking out a holiday party and the gift giving all at once. (We can work together on the food and spirits served.) As a bonus, this can also serve as a perfect opportunity to buy gifts for other people on your list. Don’t forget about our free gift wrapping, either!”
Another gift idea for employees is ordering custom apparel for your business that has your company logo on it. Not only does this make for a good holiday gift, it helps brand your business (assuming this will become your employees’ new favorite clothing item and they’ll wear it everywhere they go). In all seriousness, though, Moonlight Custom Screenprint and Embroidery has a large inventory available, including sweaters, hoodies, quarter-zips, and polos. There are also a variety of holiday designs to choose from if you’re interested in ordering something specific for the occasion. The best part about Moonlight Custom Screenprint is that they operate out of Nebraska, so you know your money is going back into the state’s economy. At Strictly Business Magazine, we are big advocates for local businesses supporting other local businesses.
Other ideas for sensible holiday staff gifts includ
- Succulent plants—they are small, easy to take care of, and they’ll add a little life to their desk! Plants have a unique way of calming a person, so they can improve the overall mood of the office.
- Fleece blankets—another item that can be embroidered, either with your company logo or the employee’s name. This is something they can actually use at home or the office to stay warm during the winter months.
- A new coffee pot or Keurig—a gift for the entire office that everyone can benefit from is just as good as individual gifts.
- Tickets or free passes—a performance/show, special event, gym membership, grocery store membership… just make sure it’s not something they already have.
- Bonuses or extra vacation days—can’t go wrong with either.
It’s hard to talk about gifts and not think about Habitat, Lincoln’s premier kitchen and gift store. With a wide variety of high-end kitchenware and home decor, there are truly so many wishlist items found on every shelf in the store. People obsess over their kitchen line, which includes brand names such as kitchen lines include Le Creuset, Wusthof, Swiss Diamond, American Clad, Vitamix, Woll, Finex, Kuhn Rikon, and RSVP. If you haven’t heard of these brands, chances are the cook in your life has.
Make sure to swing by Habitat, located at on the northeast corner of 70th and Pioneers, this holiday season as you start to check things off your shopping gift list. Aside from cookware, Habitat also has a wonderful selection of novelty items that would make small, easy gifts for coworkers, like fuzzy socks, playing cards, artsy stationary, and acrylic glasses that can be engraved!
While you’re browsing for others’ gifts, Habitat also carries items that will make your holiday cooking experience go smoothly. “If your hosting the festivities at your home this year, make sure you’ve gone through the checklist in your head of everything you’ll need,” advises Jana Clark with Habitat. “These things include: Carving knife, roaster, turkey frills and lifters, brine/brining bag, cooking twine, fat separator, potato masher, thermometer–the list goes on! Just make sure to buy your turkey brining kit early as we usually sell out!
When you stop in our store, we’ll be able to help you pick out everything you need to make all the food and set your table appropriately. If you’re looking to impress your guests by serving them the best turkey in town this Thanksgiving, ask us about our new gourmet food line. This year, we started carrying Olivelle products, featuring premium quality oils and vinegars on-tap, dipping herbs, artisan sea salts, spices, and rubs. We’re proud to be the first and only place in Nebraska to offer Olivelle. We even hand out recipe cards with these products to give you some inspiration for incorporating them in different dishes to whip up this year.”
If you’re specifically looking for a gift for your boss this holiday season, we have some advice on that front as well. When it comes to finding a gift for the same person who signs your paychecks, allowing you to afford gifts in the first place, don’t be intimidated. Chances are, your employer doesn’t expect you to get them anything, so they’ll just be grateful you thought to do something at all.
It doesn’t have to be anything over the top; even a nice floral arrangement to liven up their office along with a handwritten note from everyone on your team can be enough to let your boss know you appreciate them. “At our shop, we have unique plants that would make a perfect holiday gift,” notes Sara Reyes Sudman with Fields Floral. “I think a lot of people view flowers as a girl’s gift, but plants have positive benefits for everyone—and not every plant has bright, colorful petals. Our Ponytail Palm is a fun looking plant that has leaves that cascade from the top like hair, adding a fun touch to the room. Peace Lilies also make a great gesture. These beautiful spathiphyllums are delivered in a ratan basket, accented with moss grass. Plants in the office are known to reduce stress, clean the air, boost creativity, and increase productivity. So really, what employer wouldn’t want something like that around?
Fields Floral also has seasonal holiday arrangements and an assortment of gifts for every personality, including drink enthusiasts, cooks, writers, gardeners, and pet lovers. One of our most popular products is the Organic Grow Kit, which allows you to grow herbs in the comfort of your kitchen.”
“Giving the gift of a limo experience is always fun!” Lori Hiebner with Leisure Limousine & Sedan points out. “We have one company that we work with that gives airport transportation to their employees for their vacations. I think this is a great idea for a gift–it’s a service that can make people’s lives a little simpler in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season!
Choose from our stock of luxury sedans, full-size SUVs, limousines, and more. You can find our entire fleet through our online reservation system.”
This gift idea serves as a little teaser for the next feature in our Holiday series where we’ll talk more about gifts that require thinking outside of the box. A gift doesn’t always have to be something you can wrap or put a bow on, sometimes the best gifts are a service or experience.
There you have it folks! You heard the experts; it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll be celebrating the Holidays accordingly with your business this year. We’ll pick up where we left off next month in part two of this Holiday Series. Until then, have a Happy Halloween!