It’s that time of year again! Even if you’re the type of person who doesn’t tolerate Jingle Bells until after Thanksgiving, it’s important to plan all of your holiday needs and obligations early, especially if you’re trying to juggle family and work activities. 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 at home.
The key to getting through the holiday season with ease is planning ahead. Even though it may seem early to some, you’ll thank yourself in a couple of months. It will also ensure that you can remain focused at work without having the details of your family’s holiday plans constantly on your mind.
Start taking inventory now of all your holiday decor. When pulling out the jack-o’-lanterns and scarecrows for that October look, get your Christmas supplies accounted for as well. Don’t spend any money on decorations, gifts, or wrapping paper when you don’t know what you have tucked away and out of sight. Take stock of damaged and broken goods so you have time to find replacements before the shelves get cleaned out at the store.
When preparing to put up Christmas lights and decorations, Heroes Holiday Lighting can offer you some welcomed assistance. Heroes Holiday Lighting provides 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.
“Let’s be honest, wrestling frozen lights from the gutter while leaning from grandpa’s 50-year-old ladder isn’t fun,” admitted Taylor Olberding, operations manager for Heroes Holiday Lighting. “As part of our service, we will handle all of the dirty work. Our take down crews will carefully disassemble and box all of your lighting, clean any excess debris, and return your property to its pre-season condition. Your lighting will be inspected and then stored in our heated and insured warehouse for the duration of the year. In the off-season, we will check your lights to make sure they are working properly the next installation season. We will contact you next fall to schedule your installation and begin another exciting and hassle-free holiday season!”
Heroes Holiday Lighting is proud to partner with Holiday Bright Lights, a designer and manufacturer in LED Light Links for residential and commercial roofline applications. As part of their professional decorator network, Heroes Holiday Lighting can create spectacular displays for your home or business.
Now is also the time to start planning all of your holiday activities if you haven’t already. For businesses, it’s common to do a fun team outing or office Christmas party. Things like venue and activities will vary based on the size of company you have. Large companies will likely want to rent out a venue that will fit all their employees and a plus-one. Companies also need to decide if they want this to be an elegant affair or more casual. Definitely set a date as early on as you can so everyone can mark their calendars and plan ahead. It’s likely that not everyone will be able to attend due to competing holiday events and travel plans, but setting a date way in advance will allow your staff to plan their activities accordingly.
It’s recommended to lock down catering right away when organizing any kind of event. The holidays are a busy time for restaurants and caterers, so don’t wait until the last minute to get the food you need to feed all your guests. This applies for all personal planning as well! If you’re responsible for preparing the holiday meal, take some of the pressure off yourself by getting certain things catered, such as the dessert.
New to Lincoln, The Chocolate Season offers artisan chocolates like no other! Owner Erika Jensen has a true talent, combining her culinary skills with her creativity. Treats from The Chocolate Season would make a beautifully delicious addition to any holiday spread. Erika is also bringing a French chocolate company, Valrhona, into her kitchen and is thrilled to introduce Lincoln to one of the top chocolates in the world.
“We have big plans for retail offerings at the shop, including specialty toffees, fudge, gourmet apples, a line of inclusion and single-origin chocolate bars, and of course, truffles!” Erika announced.
Erika is known to create unique and traditional flavors alike. Truffle lovers will enjoy the matcha-wasabi caramel ganache, pumpkin cream, margarita, black sesame, raspberry chambord, and her best seller, the fleur de sel caramel.
“I love that no matter where The Chocolate Season is located, you can gift friends and family nationwide,” Erika added. “It’s so fun hearing the stories of loved ones from customers, chatting about what would make the perfect gift for your boss, or why we had to create a box of chocolates that looked like planets because our customer was proposing to his girlfriend who is an astronomer!”
Erika feels holidays are the perfect time to show love, gratitude, and good cheer to everyone in your life, and she loves that The Chocolate Season is the perfect outlet for that.
As far as venue options go, Graduate Lincoln can accommodate different party sizes in their multiple event rooms. From grand mid-century inspired ballrooms to smaller spaces for intimate receptions, Graduate has a spot that is just right for your group to celebrate the holidays together. The Ardis Ballroom at Graduate Lincoln is ideal for large events; with 5,800 square feet, it can hold up to 450 people. The Scarlet Ballroom and Legends Ballroom are good options as well. Named with Husker pride, the Scarlet Ballroom is the ideal venue to host medium to large size groups. Boasting 3,000 square feet of space, this room can accommodate up to 210 people when rented fully and can be divided into smaller rooms to create a more intimate environment for groups of 90 or less. In addition, with over 2,000 square feet of space, the Legends Ballroom is a great venue for medium size events, accommodating up to 130 people. Partial room rentals are available to suit smaller parties as needed.
If you have family coming in from out of town this holiday season, arrange lodging for them at Graduate Lincoln. The hotel is designed to be one big nod to Nebraska. This is made evident with the corn print curtains in guest rooms and front desk drapery that pays homage to the state’s great late night son, Johnny Carson. Your friends and relatives will enjoy a stay like they never have before at the Graduate Lincoln!
Another popular venue downtown is Talon Room. The building features distressed brick walls, exposed industrial ceilings, and a charming antique bar to provide your event a truly unique setting. This event space can easily be decorated to go along with any holiday theme, but much it doesn’t take much to make it look attractive.
The staff at Talon Room is committed to excellence and will help the event planning process go smoothly. From event setup to a full-service bar, let Talon Room help take some of the pressure off your shoulders during this busy time of year.
Booking the Talon Room for your holiday party includes use of the event space for the day, set up and tear down with access to tables and chairs, linens (white, black, red, or ivory), event coordination, and cleaning. Additional amenities include Talon Room’s food and beverage catering, A/V equipment, and Internet access. Having audio and visual equipment available is great if you choose to do a slide show or video. Putting together photos of your team from the past year is a special thing you can do at your office holiday party to add a sense of togetherness. Having activities and/or prizes is a great way to make the event more interactive, but ultimately, nothing is more important than having good food and drinks.
“Whether your plan is for an appetizer spread or a sit down meal, be sure you’ve ordered more than enough to accommodate everyone who is coming,” advised Matthew Rogge with Talon Room. “This is especially important if you’re hosting the party during the dinner hour. Talon Room does both onsite and offsite catering, so just let me know how many people you expect to have attend and we’ll put together a menu that fits your needs.”
Before selecting a venue or locking down catering, you may ask yourself when is the best time to host an office Christmas party? The most cost-effective time is probably during the lunch hour or a weekend in the off-season such as early October or late January. Research shows the over two-fifths of corporate events take place during the lunch hour. Not everyone may be able to participate due to work demands such as answering the phones, but a lunch hour event allows the organization to control costs and reduces obligations on employees’ personal time and commitments. If the lunch time doesn’t work or your company wants to do something a little more special, keep in mind that weekends are very busy, especially Fridays. In fact, Friday is the most popular day of the week at restaurants and other venues—which also means it’s the most expensive time. Week nights might be your best option.
“When it comes to celebrating the holidays, especially with your employees, remember that this is a busy time for everyone,” emphasized Kevin Witcher, owner and one of the main performers at 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’s a built-in party with every reservation. If you have family visiting from out of town or just getting together with co-workers and friends, Screamers provides delicious food and fun for all with our variety of world-class menu options and singing servers, featuring music from all styles, genres, and eras.”
Some companies might be tempted not to organize a holiday party for their staff altogether. This is understandable as they can be expensive, difficult to plan, and they add one thing to an already busy time of year for everyone. However, there are actually many benefits to having a company holiday party. We spoke with Eric Pomajzl with Venue Restaurant & Lounge about why companies should plan something special during the holidays for their employees.
“A holiday party is a great way to encourage your staff to get into the spirit while building company culture,” Eric said. “I think office holiday parties are a great way to wrap up the year and motivate your team going into the next year. This can be enhanced by recognizing individuals and/or departments achievements with an awards ceremony during the party. In addition, celebrating together is a great opportunity for your employees to get to know one another outside of the office. Often times during the work day, employees only get to interact with others within their department. Having an inclusive company holiday party allows people the opportunity to meet and mingle with coworkers they might not otherwise get to talk to on a regular basis.”
Venue Restaurant & Lounge has four private dining rooms that provide great spaces for holiday gatherings, large or small. They offer high-quality food utilizing fresh, local ingredients and can accommodate buffet style gatherings or plated meals. Their rooms are fully furnished and provide a warm and inviting atmosphere. Venue’s knowledgeable event coordination team works with you to finalize the details while their dedicated event staff takes care of you the night of. Additionally, Venue Catering & Events offers full-service catering, bar, and staff—whether it’s in your home or at your office building.
Whether you’re in charge of planning something for your office or your family this holiday season, don’t forget to keep things simple as much as possible. Make a timeline and a list of tasks that must be done to make your party a success. Delegate some of the tasks to others. Remember, it’s the people that make the party. Forget trying to make everything perfect and just concentrate on helping everyone have fun. You don’t have to come up with all the activities yourself, either. There are places in Lincoln that provide fun activities for you!
If you want a unique and fun venue for your holiday gathering, the centers at 48 Bowl, Inc. (Parkway Lanes and Hollywood Bowl) have room for large or small groups, wonderful catering and beverage service, music and PA system, WiFi connection, video screens and of course, bowling! If you are looking for a meeting/party room only, they also offer those.
“We offer weekday and weekend packages,” Jennifer Davis-Korn with 48 Bowl informed us. “There is even an option to rent out the entire center for your party. Both of our centers offer unique spaces to host your gathering, whether it’s 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. 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 advised, “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!
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 on the home page.
If bowling isn’t your jam, Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers offers a Friends and Flowers workshop that would make a fun team or family outing this holiday season. Fresh or silk flowers can be used to create a holiday-themed bouquet. On October 15, there will be a Fresh Fall Flower Arranging Class, and on October 22, mark your calendars for a Halloween Flower Arranging Class! Your group is also welcome to bring wine and snacks to make the experience even more enjoyable!
“With our Friends and Flowers events, you can come in to the studio in learn some tips and tricks on flower arranging and then make your own arrangement to take home!” Exclaimed Gary Tharnish, owner of Burton & Tyrrell’s. “We allow up to 12 people per reservation and certain dates can be reserved individually, or you will be paired with other individuals or small groups.”
In addition, a floral arrangement from Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers in Lincoln is the best way to send holiday cheer! Brighten your Thanksgiving turkey dinner with unique floral arrangements, like a table centerpiece for the host, cornucopia fruit baskets, contemporary floral vases, or baskets of fall flowers. Christmas flowers and poinsettia plants are a great way to spread joy as well, and they also make quick and easy party decor. Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers can help you with any Christmas styles or colors with their Christmas decor accessories. If you need centerpieces or a festive wreath for your party, Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers has you covered. There is an entire page of Christmas arrangements on Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers website, just go to the ‘Holidays’ tab!
There are also some entertaining productions taking place at the Nebraska Repertory Theatre that would make for a fun outing with coworkers or friends. The Nebraska Rep creates innovative theatrical experiences to ignite the imagination, challenge the heart, promote an inclusive community, and inspire the next generation of theatre artists.
The next production put on by the Nebraska Repertory Theatre will be The Legend of Georgia McBride, October 2–13, at the Lied Center’s Johnny Carson Theater. This play is noted to be a highly entertaining production full of sass and good spirits. When protagonist Casey is fired from his gig as an Elvis impersonator so that the bar owner can bring in a drag show to replace his act, Casey learns there’s a lot more to show business, and himself, than originally thought. ‘The King’ becomes a queen in this music-filled comedy.
Other performances in the 2019-20 season included: The Glass Menagerie By Tennessee Williams, November 6–17 at the Temple Building; The Holiday Cabaret directed by Andy Park, December 12–21 at the Temple Building; A Thousand Words directed by Andy Park, February 12–23, 2020 at the Temple Building; and Pippin, book by Roger O. Hirson, April 1–12, 2020 at the Lied Center’s Johnny Carson Theater.
You can also take your holiday festivities on the road by getting a party bus for your group! With Tailored Dreams Limousines & Party Buses, you can take up to 45 people around town or from one spot to the next in one of the five decked out limousine-style party buses in their fleet. Turn up the holiday tunes with Tailored Dreams’ newly updated sound systems and Bluetooth capabilities.
A party bus provides a whole new level of excitement and endless fun for passengers of all ages, mainly because they provide added space and amenities that make them stand out from regular vehicles. A party bus also provides you with safety and a stylish way to get around.
“Whether it’s for Halloween, Christmas, or New Year’s, having your party on wheels is a fun alternative to other venues,” noted DeeDee Loomis, owner of Tailored Dreams Limousines & Party Buses. “There have been so many groups that have had the time of their lives with us on one of our party buses! Our team takes pride and joy in making every occasion perfect. The holiday reservations fill up fast, so book now!”
The holidays are about spending time with the people you love and giving thanks. They also tend to be about giving gifts, which means spending money. Help take the stress out of the holiday season by creating and sticking to a holiday budget. Begin by making a list of all of your expected holiday expenses, such as traveling expenses, gift exchanges at work, and charitable donations. This will give you a basic idea of things that you will need to pay for in addition to gifts. Many people only think about the gifts and wonder why money is so tight in December, but that’s because they didn’t think about all the other extra expenses the holiday season brings.
Set a spending limit for yourself and then stick to it! Knowing how much you have to spend on each gift will help you narrow down ideas before you shop. Then, making a shopping list with one or two gift ideas in mind for each individual you plan on gifting. As you begin to purchase gifts and spend money, be sure to subtract the amount from your running Christmas budget total. This will let you know how well you are sticking to your budget and will make it easier to make adjustments between categories if needed. Other good holiday budgeting tips include:
- Don’t put gift purchases on a credit card. It makes it easier to overspend.
- Add some generic gifts to your shopping list in case you realize you forgot to buy something for someone and then you don’t have to make an extra trip to the mall.
- Be upfront about a spending limit with groups you’re a part of that want to do a gift exchange or secret Santa.
- Take advantage of Black Friday sales.
You may be tempted to do a lot of your holiday shopping online. This is understandable as there are probably a lot of good deals and you can get a lot done quicker, but don’t forget how important it is to support local businesses! There are so many shops and vendors in Lincoln that sell items that would make amazing gifts.
With R.U. Nuts Co., you can give the gift of delicious coffee and gourmet nuts, chocolate, candy, trail mixes, snacks, dried fruit, seeds, grains, and beans! R.U. Nuts, a locally- and family-owned company, began small batch coffee roasting and called it Ahroma Specialty Coffee.
Ahroma roasts delicious and dense “specialty grade” coffee beans in small batches, blending signature and house blends to match whatever profile of flavor you desire. They have over a hundred blends and flavors available to be paired with top brand names that they carry like Big Train, Torani, Monin, and many more.
Good coffee is something every office should have as a perk for the entire staff, but it’s especially good to have around when entertaining guests and clients. During the chilly holiday months ahead, you’re likely to go through coffee pretty quick! Make sure you stock up. You can purchase whole bean or coffee grounds by 8oz, 1lb, or 5lb. R.U. Nuts also sells frappuccino, chai, and cider powder, fruit smoothie mix, cocoa, Italian syrups and sauces, and much more. Order some for your office or your next event!
“No celebration is complete without snacks!” Charlotte Ralston, owner of R.U. Nuts, exclaimed. “Let us help you put together a combination of delicious chocolate, gourmet trail mixes, nuts, and freshly roasted coffee for your next event! Use our stackable tubs or fun food-filled baskets for a centerpiece. Great for an office party, client gift, or holiday family gathering, our gift baskets have something that everyone will enjoy. We can include your promotional item, company mug, or other items you provide. Your name is your most important asset, so we can also customize any label with your company name.”
Another local business that can help you choose the right gift for employees and clients for the holidays is Flicker Promotions. “Gifts are a great way to show your true appreciation and can be customized with a logo or fun saying,” said 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 holiday parties and celebrations. Using these types of items can help in an overall unified branding strategy.”
Lastly, it might seem silly to “pencil in” time for yourself, but as you are making your holiday lists, decluttering the basement, purchasing decorations and coordinating with your family, you may find that free time is out the window! Make sure to schedule time for yourself during holiday planning. An Epsom salt bath, a massage, a long nature walk, and yoga or mediation are all ways to reduce stress and take care of your mind and body.
On that note, another great way to avoid stress this holiday season is knowing how to say no. In your social life, you may find yourself invited to various holiday dinners and parties, but you don’t have to attend them all. Keep your budget in mind and your workload. It’s okay to nicely decline commitments that are not high on your holiday goals list so you can focus your time and energy on the things you really value this holiday season.
By making some positive steps toward getting your holiday plans and needs in order now, you can spend more time enjoying family and friends when the season actually arrives!