The holiday season is here – well, almost, but it’s time to start planning for its arrival! As most of us are aware, generally from past experience, a few key things that should be planned for well in advance are holiday parties and any custom gifts that need to be special ordered or are in high demand and may not be available for very long. To get the 2015 holiday season kicked off right we’ve highlighted some ways that you can get started on your holiday planning and prepare to dazzle your friends, family, clients, co-workers and anyone else that has landed on your invitation or gift list this year!
At the very beginning of holiday party planning, the first decision that you’ll likely be making is the venue. This is particularly advantageous because once you have your venue booked you’ll have a set date and a much better idea of your needs for all other aspects of the party, including food and beverages, entertainment, and itinerary. There are plenty of fantastic places to host your holiday party that get rave reviews year after year, but with that popularity they also book incredibly quickly!
No matter whether you’re looking for a family friendly venue or a place to relax and unwind with your colleagues, a bowling alley is a venue that will keep everyone entertained with fun and lively competition. Not only is bowling a favorite American pastime that just about everyone can participate in and enjoy, but the environment is really great for interaction and with the amenities offered you won’t have to worry about planning much else besides booking your date.
“Bowling is a fun, inclusive activity that your whole group can participate in,” says Jennifer Davis-Korn of 48Bowl, Inc. (www.48bowl.com). “And around the holidays almost everyone comes bowling at least once. That’s why we at 48 Bowl, Inc. (Parkway Lanes and Hollywood Bowl) recommend that you begin planning your company or family gathering now. We’re here to help! While we do offer full center rental, catering and beverage service, we also love to handle small groups of co-workers, family and friends. If you think your group is too small to reserve lanes, think again. Guests can reserve as few as one lane at a time!
Planning a bowling holiday party is a snap. Before visiting our website or calling, answer these simple questions: 1. What day and time do I want my party? 2. How many lanes do I want to reserve? (We recommend about 4-5 people to a lane.) 3. Do I want to provide food and beverages? 4. What is my budget? If you want to provide food and drinks for your guests, knowing your budget helps us point you to affordable options. Our catering ranges from burgers and sandwich meal combinations to buffet-style taco bars, pulled pork, pizza and more. You can purchase kegs of beer, set a bar tab, or provide limited drink tickets to guests. We also have non-alcoholic options for unlimited soda, tea and coffee at $2.75 per guest.” She adds, “If you like to do your research online, first, visit us at 48bowl.com and click on “Events and Parties” for group rate information and “Food & Beverage” for catering information at both locations. If you know what you want and are ready to book, OR if you have more questions and need assistance, give us a call! Dial (402) 483-7763 for Parkway Lanes and (402) 466-1911 for Hollywood Bowl.”
“I recommend planning early in order to reserve the best possible time for your party,” agrees Jen Miseno, Group Sales Coordinator at Sun Valley Lanes (www.sunvalleylanes.com). “Some groups book their parties a year in advance to make sure they get the time and space that they want. These are generally higher demand times for larger groups. Planning for smaller and more flexible groups should ideally begin right now. Keep in mind, the prime time spots will book up much sooner than less desirable times.”
She adds, “As far as our holiday party offerings at Sun Valley Lanes, our ‘Strike Package’ is one our most popular packages. Included is two hours of bowling, shoe rental, soft drinks, and a two entrée/four appetizer buffet. New this holiday season is the Fun Valley Arcade, a 1500 sq. ft. arcade and redemption center with 20 state-of-the-art games and thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes. We can add arcade credit to any event!
The great thing to keep in mind for corporate event is that our activities cater to all ages and capabilities, so no one is left out! If you don’t see exactly what you are looking for in one our packages let us know. Whenever possible, we will try to customize your needs. Your guests will thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to Meet, Eat and Compete this holiday season at Sun Valley Lanes.”To add a little fun and flavor to this year’s holiday soiree, Zipline Brewing Co. not only has a space that’s ideal for hosting parties but also offers specialty brews that are great gifts or to pick up and bring with you to your party, wherever it may be!
“Our conference room easily transitions into a space that’s perfect for small work or family gatherings, and we only charge $50 for the reservation fee,” says Marcus Powers, co-founder and Chief of Operations at Zipline Brewing Co (www.ziplinebrewing.com). “We allow catered food to be brought in and you’ll have your own private space during our taproom hours, which guarantees that you’ll be able to accommodate your guests. It’s common for the brewery to be too busy to secure seating for larger groups, so aside from the conference room, the entire taproom can also be reserved outside of regular business hours on Mondays and Tuesdays.
For events hosted elsewhere, growlers-to-go give you the ability to bring an array of different and unique beer choices to the party. With over a dozen different beers on tap, our 32 and 64 ounce growlers let you take beers home that you cannot buy in stores. They also make great gifts to give out at your holiday party or in general. If you don’t know what kind of beer the person on your gift list prefers, a gift card enables craft beer fans to pick their favorite beer from our offerings on their own schedule, as well as giving them access to hats, shirts, hoodies, glassware, and other unique brewery wares.”
He adds, “November is our anniversary month and we’ll be celebrating all month long with special beer releases and events. Stay tuned to our social media sites for more information, and we welcome you to stop by for a visit during the holiday season!”
James Arthur Vineyards offers the perfect setting for holiday gatherings and parties plus some delicious wines to enjoy. “One of the most popular events we host is a holiday dinner that incorporates a wine tasting,” says Jim Ballard, owner of James Arthur Vineyards (www.jamesarthurvineyards.com) . This can be anything from a Winemaker’s Dinner, which is a sit down four-course meal paired with JAV’s award winning wines, to a more casual event which would include appetizers and a wine tasting. We also offer tasting stations that can be incorporated into the dining experience. These tasting stations allow guests to travel from station to station where a wine has been paired with a specific appetizer. Out caterer can create a personalized menu for any event, and you are also welcome to bring in some holiday entertainment. Some fun ideas I have seen are comedians, magicians, or a cabaret-type performance. We work with a number of entertainers in the area that we could schedule for your holiday event. Another great idea is our basic wine tasting class, where JAV’s winemaker leads a hands-on class in the ‘5-S’s’ of wine tasting.
Additionally, the James Arthur Vineyards Wine Shop and From Nebraska Gift Shop have plenty of unique holiday gift offerings for just about anyone on your list. We also offer gift certificates in both the traditional way by dollar amounts or we can personalize them for a wine tasting or one of our special events. As another unique option, we create customized gift baskets for any gift giving need, whether it’s for family, friends, customers or co-workers. This can include a personalized label for each bottle of wine, as we’ve created a number of beautiful label backgrounds especially for the holidays.”
Once you’ve booked the venue, you can assess your needs and begin getting everything else nailed down accordingly. Two key essentials of holiday parties that come next on the planning list are catering/dining and entertainment.
With chef-inspired cuisine, hand-crafted cocktails, and the ability to create the ultimate dining experience with the highest level of hospitality, Venue Restaurant & Lounge has been a staple for holiday parties over the years.
“Planning early for the holidays is key!” emphasizes Kelli Pilkington of Venue Restaurant & Lounge (www.yourvenue.net). “Getting a head start on the catering, venue, and dates requested gives you a great advantage that your favorite Venue is available. You’ll also have enough time to really go through your menu options, which will allow you to have a clear idea of what you’d like to serve. Being prepared and ahead of schedule is always better than being rushed.
Just in time for the upcoming holiday season, we are so excited to announce the expansion of our catering kitchen as well as a new addition to our rented private room space! Our catering kitchen has tripled in size, allowing us more room for extended catering and the ability to accommodate more guest events. By adding to our conference room space, we now have the option for a higher guest count and can continue to exceed guest expectations higher than we ever imagined.
We also are happy to have our VIP Gift Card Packages again this year. This is great for businesses, families, and holiday events giving guests the option to buy Venue gift cards in bulk and receive a percentage in gift cards for free! These will come in platinum boxes sure to heighten the element of surprise for your gift.”
She adds, “As another popular option, one of our many offerings as a top catering company in Lincoln is doing private at-home or office corporate parties. We bring the delicious chef-inspired cuisine to you, set up a gorgeous presentation, and continue to present full-service throughout the evening. Your guests will be blown away by the presentation, bar service and full catering and all you have to do is enjoy the best holiday party your office has seen. When all is said and done, we clean up and take care of the rest while you thank you guests for coming to your holiday event. No stress, no work, just an evening of elegance and relaxation.”
Another fantastic venue that’s got the perfect ambiance for a holiday gathering or party is MoMo Pizzeria & Ristorante. With its modern yet rustic style and blazing wood-fired stone hearth pizza oven greeting guests as they arrive, MoMo has great appeal for events during the holiday season. As many who have visited can attest, the MoMo experience is nothing short of extraordinary! “MoMo Pizzeria & Ristorante has a beautiful and unique interior décor and atmosphere like no other restaurant in Lincoln, which has made it a popular gathering spot for holiday parties in past years,” says Anthony Bonelli of MoMo Pizzeria & Ristorante (www.momospizzeria.com) . “Whether it’s an intimate gathering or a large party, we can accommodate your needs to ensure that your event is enjoyable and one to remember. Our private dining room seats 28 and we have a separate menu for those who book that space.
At MoMo we take pride in our superior service and a chef driven, fresh, seasonal, made from scratch menu. Past party customers have loved our made from scratch meatballs and our Brussels & Kalettes, as well as our hand-tossed, wood-fired pizzas. MoMo also offers a progressive cocktail list of beverages that will please any palette, including house-made amaretto & Limóncello; the finest wine selection in Lincoln, housed in a beautifully displayed wine cellar; a large selection of bottled beer; and uniquely infused vodka for the perfect Bloody Mary. MoMo has a wide variety of delectable food and specialty drinks for all to enjoy. Our location also allows for free, convenient parking at the door for all guests, effectively eliminating the hassle of parking during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
For an exceptional experience MoMo is the restaurant to book to impress your guests. MoMo is already getting booked for the holidays, with premium, preferred dates going fast. So plan early if possible, and we look forward to hosting your group for the holidays!”
Whether you’re looking for catering or a casual place to gather during the holidays, Greenfield’s Café (www.greenfieldscafe.com) and BLINK! Casual Eatery (blinkeatery.com) come together to offer a full lineup of offerings for your upcoming parties. Both offer chef inspired, scratch-based menus featuring unique signature items that can’t be found anywhere else in town, with professionals who will help you design a menu that best fits your needs. BLINK! is focused more on gourmet deli foods (think bruschetta, five different chicken salad varieties, ceviche, salmon spreads, etc.) while Greenfield’s features fresh signature breakfast items and comfort foods (such as casseroles, burgers, sandwiches, homemade soups, etc.), so there is plenty to choose from that’s for sure!
If you’re looking for a creative and festive way to bring the bar to your party venue or gathering this year, consider booking the new concierge bar services offered by Group Therapy Bike Tours! With the recent legislation that has allowed the company to obtain a liquor license, Group Therapy is now able to offer a full-service mobile bar complete with festive lights, music, and holiday-inspired cocktails for an atmosphere that your guests are sure to enjoy.
“This year we have rolled out many new offerings for our clients just in time for the holidays,” says Drew Philippi, owner of Group Therapy Bike Tours (www.grouptherapybiketours.com). “Not only are we able to offer complete mobile bar services at any venue that accommodates the size of the bike, but we are also planning a full lineup of holiday Christmas light tours for those who are game to bundle up and enjoy each other’s company and a unique experience. This is perfect for corporate events during the holidays as well as gathering to celebrate with family and friends.”
Since it’s the holidays we are talking about, you definitely can’t forget the lights and decorations! Furthermore, as the holidays are fast approaching, many home and business owners will soon be under a time crunch to get everything accomplished. For those who are looking for a hassle-free alternative that takes the commitment of time and effort out of decorating, consider utilizing Christmas Décor by Festive Expressions, a professional holiday decorating company like no other. You’ll be able to rely on expert decorators who are trained in safety and proper installation methods to get the job done right and in time for your holiday parties and gatherings. This way you’ll be able to dazzle your guests with ease! Christmas Décor by Festive Expressions offers display design, installation, maintenance, takedown and clean-up. As the premier holiday decorating company in Lincoln and the surrounding area, their team will make every effort to ensure you have a safe and festive holiday season.
Aside from making your dining or catering arrangements, another area where you can get creative with your holiday party is choosing the perfect entertainment to further set the tone. As holiday parties are festive and theme-oriented, one recommendation we have found to be especially perfect for the holidays is live music performed by local musicians.
“As we’re all relaxing and enjoying the cooler breezes of fall, it’s time to plan ahead so that we may also relax and enjoy the celebration of the holidays,” advises Vicki Harris, owner of Harris Academy of the Arts (harrisacademyofthearts.com). “Whether planning for corporate events and parties, family gatherings, community celebrations or the added holiday ambience for your customers in a retail setting, our holiday Charles Dickens Carolers and musicians provide that special touch to create cheer and enjoyment. We offer custom ensemble options including varied solos, duets, trios, and quartets. Sacred, traditional, popular or a mix, the style is yours to determine based on the ensemble selected.
Professional musicians’ schedules book quickly for the holidays and time is of the essence to get your event secured. Harris Academy of the Arts provides FREE consultation from the first inquiring call all the way to the last note played at the end of the event, assisting in music selections and details, scheduling, and the organization of the musicians.”
For those who are searching for the perfect gift this year, she adds, “Need gift ideas? By far, our most popular gift offering is that of a gift certificate for private lesson or group class instruction. Our gift certificates are an easy and meaningful way to share the gift of music to loved ones, friends, relatives, colleagues and staff. Applicable to any of our group classes such as Kindermusik, Children’s Music Academy, Rock Band, Choir Ensembles, and more, we also provide quality private music lessons by university trained instructors in the areas of piano, voice, guitar, violin, viola, string bass, flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, baritone, tuba, theatre, composition, theory, jazz study and more. Gift certificates are great as an excellent and unique gift or even as a cute stocking stuffer!”
Gift giving is indeed an essential part of spreading the holiday cheer around, with a wide range of special ways you could treat any one of the important people in your life. So it’s only natural that next on the list for holiday party planning, as well as planning for the holidays in general, is gift giving!
‘Tis the season to order your corporate gifts for clients and employees, and Frosty’s Specialty Advertising (www.frostysonline.com) is your source for creative promotional products that double as wonderful holiday gifts! Among the popular holiday gifts are customized pens and pen sets and drinkware, but there are literally thousands of items to choose from in every price range. Not only does this get your name out and recognized, but it is a thoughtful gesture of thanks during the holiday season. While you may have heard that “no one is faster than Frosty,” different suppliers have different turnaround times, which can be tricky. The lead time for ordering these customized products is at least a few weeks in most cases, so this is another example of holiday shopping that should be done in October or the beginning of November just to be on the safe side—especially since most plan to give these gifts during the month of December at holiday events and not just at the end of the month around the Christmas holiday.
When considering corporate gifts that fit in well with the season, there are several popular options that offer fashion as well as function. “This time of year we see a lot of orders for headwear and outerwear,” explains Kevin Sherrill, owner and CEO of ART F/X Screen Printing & Embroidery (artfxscreenprinting.com) . “There are some really nice options for stocking caps, and the beanie with the ball on top is a style that’s made a comeback in the past year or two. We also offer an assortment of high quality fleeces and jackets in a number of colors and styles. These can all be custom embroidered, which makes for a really nice corporate gift as personalized items add that special touch. If apparel isn’t something you’re interested in, we always offer a wide variety of specialty items such as koozies, which are perfect for football season and holiday celebrations. Or, for the person who is always out and about, we have a popular ‘phone pocket’ that attaches to the back of a phone to hold a credit card and ID. These can also be customized with a design or logo and are quite convenient for those who don’t want to carry a handbag or bulky wallet. When ordering any type of specialty items, the most important thing is to give yourself enough time – to be on the safe side, I recommend allowing for 2-3 weeks from placing your order until your items arrive. You can come to us with an idea or request a catalogue of our offerings, and we are always able to make suggestions if you are looking for a new idea this year.”
If you are a lady who is looking one-of-a-kind gift for your significant other, consider a spicy, romantic gesture this holiday season with boudoir photos. As this is another prime example of a specialty gift, you’ll want to make sure to book your session well in advance to ensure that the photos are ready by the time December rolls around. “Boudoir photographs are a unique, and likely unexpected, sentimental yet sexy gift for your guy,” says Jaime Incontro of Purple Sky Productions (www.boudoirboutique.com). “Boudoir photographs are tasteful studio pictures taken in your lingerie. This might seem completely out of the realm of possibility for many women, but I strive to make my clients feel comfortable with both myself and their surroundings. I’ve found that women not only love giving the images to their guy, but they walk away from the experience feeling empowered and sexy. It is a great confidence boost as well as a special gift, no matter the occasion!”
When it comes to shopping for gifts around town, we are truly lucky to live in a city that is rich with specialty retailers and boutiques so you’re sure to find those unique gifts that will be a welcome surprise to those who are the lucky (and deserving!) recipients.
“Among our popular holiday gift items are jewelry, charms, scarves, wallets, and sweaters,” explains Cherie Travis, owner of Rachel’s Boutique (rachelsboutiquelincoln.com). “Brighton charm bracelets are ideal because they can be customized. Along with the plenty of items in stock, we have the capability to do special orders which do not take too long. Because we will no longer be carrying Pandora, our stock on-hand is currently on sale for 20% off which is a great deal! For the convenience of our customers we always offer gift wrapping for free, and you can stop by anytime and grab a gift certificate too.
For corporate gifts Rachel’s has great, desk clocks, business card holders, frames, night lights, and many jewelry items that would be great gift items. We can order and wrap each one and even deliver to your office.
As far as holiday parties go, we can help you find the right outfit and accessories. Once you know whether the party is formal or informal you can then plan your outfit. Many times a top, sweater, jacket, or pant can be dressed up or down. Moreover, the accessories you pick can also make an outfit dressy or casual. This is where you can take items from your closet and change up a couple items like adding a jacket, scarf or new accessory and then you’re good to go. We always welcome customers to bring in items from their closet and let us help put together a new look.”
“With brand new inventory for the fall and winter seasons, there will be plenty of great finds to choose from at The Nines during the next few months,” says Kathy Hagge, owner of The Nines (www.facebook.com/theninesfallbrook) . “We always have a lot of festive items for the holidays, whether you’re looking for a gift or something to wear to upcoming holiday parties and events. Adding a little sparkle to your wardrobe will work out nicely during the holidays for an effortless yet festive look. Versatile pieces such as dresses with some gold or silver threading, faux metallic leggings or leather pants to jazz up an outfit, a shiny scarf and glittery accessories are all popular items during the holidays. These items can all be dressed up or dressed down accordingly as well. I can’t stress comfort enough—simple dresses, sweaters and leggings with a little sparkle are chic but still comfy.
Aside from clothing items, you can find a wide variety of accessories at The Nines that are a safe bet if you’re worried about getting the size right, and even in price ranges commonly set for work or family gift exchanges. However, when it comes to choosing the right size or style, we are able to access each of our client’s purchase history in order to make recommendations. This allows us to help with holiday shopping by providing size information, the items they already have in their wardrobe and what styles, colors, looks etc. they prefer. If all else fails, the trusty gift certificate is also available and it’s a fun way to give that special someone a chance to check out all of the newest fashions and trends at The Nines, located in the heart of Fallbrook’s Town Center!”
Gifts that also promote health and wellness are also at the top of the list for most, so we’ve included a few great ideas to get you started here too!
Many of us are likely to have at least one fitness or sports enthusiast on our gift list. Regardless, gifts that promote a healthy lifestyle can be fun too! Play It Again Sports (www.playitagainsportslincoln.com) is full of great finds for kids and adults alike. The store offers both new and gently used items at a fraction of the retail price, and prepare ahead of time for the holiday rush with a significant increase in inventory. This means you have an even better chance of scoring a great deal! As these items get picked over very quickly, the sooner you stop in the better. Gift cards are also available, and are a great gift in lieu of spring sports that are right around the corner after the holidays. The best part is that Play It Again Sports welcomes trades all year long, even during the holiday season. That concept can help you save money by allowing you to apply those trade dollars to your gift purchases! “We are all about making your holiday shopping experience painless,” says owner Diane Hesson. “We really prepare ahead of time for the holiday rush so shopping for gifts is a breeze on any budget. Aside from our sporting goods, we also carry a full line of fitness equipment and accessories. The holidays can be rough on all of us—physically and mentally. Whether you want to get in shape or stay in shape, we have solutions for everyone to utilize during and after the holidays.”
Good health is a combination of mind, body and spirit—so it’s safe to say that a little relaxation and pampering is sometimes just what the doctor ordered! Massages truly are among the spa services that are well received by just about everyone. “We offer gift cards for individual or couples sessions that can be purchased at The Body Shoppe or gift certificates that can be purchased online and printed immediately,” says Dennis Varley, owner of The Body Shoppe (www.lisasbodyshoppe.com). “Or as a gift to your staff, you could also choose to schedule one of our massage therapists to come to your holiday party and do seated chair massages. This way you’ll further treat your employees to a 15- or 30-minute relaxing massage during the hectic holiday season. Massage gift cards also make great door prizes for corporate holiday parties.
The holidays will be here before you know it, so if you’re treating someone to a massage appointment as opposed to a gift card, or even if you’re treating yourself to a massage to rejuvenate during all of the jam-packed holiday shopping, preparations and festivities, I strongly advise booking in advance. All of our services can be booked online with the exception of couple’s massages, which are set up by phone. Our schedules really fill up fast during the holidays and if you’ve already booked your appointment, you’ll either have it out of the way or have something to look forward to!”
One last thing to focus on aside from party planning and gift shopping as early as possible is making arrangements for your pets if you are going out of town or will be gone for an extended amount of time. When it comes to booking early, local boarding centers are in high demand during the holiday season and you’ll want to prepare accordingly. “If you will need to leave your pet with us, we always suggest making your pet’s overnight reservations as early as possible,” advises Dian Quist of KENL INN (www.kenl-inn.com). “If you err on the side of caution, you can always cancel if your plans change at no extra charge. If you have ever tried to book a hotel room for guest on a Husker home game weekend…well it’s exactly like that! Also, check with your Veterinarian to be sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date. It’s better to get the vaccinations a week or so before boarding so your pet has had time to build up resistance.
At KENL INN, we offer a wide variety of activities for dogs while they are staying with us. Traditionally, our Nature Hikes and Half Day Play activities have been the most popular. Our hiking trail is about 3/4 of a mile and goes up the hill, past the pond and creek, so the dogs really have time to enjoy their surroundings. In the winter we plow the snow from the trail so we can hike year-round! Half Day Play is a group play for four hours. The dogs play together while our Pet Care Attendants supervise. We have three large play yards so the dogs can be divided into compatible groups. Then, of course, we offer holiday dinners for Thanksgiving and Christmas and for New Years we have a New Year’s Eve Party complete with “doggy champagne and hors d’oeuvres!”
She further advises, “Depending on how social your pet is, some holiday festivities are a blast while others might be too much for your pet to handle. It’s important to watch out for your pet. If being among all the family and party goers is good for your pet, by all means include them. If your pet has more of a quiet personality, then maybe keeping them separate from all the festivities is best. Another important thing to remember, especially when you are having company over, is door manners! Be sure your dog does not slip out the door while your guests are arriving or leaving. KENL INN offers training classes that can help with door manners, not jumping up, learning to relax around distractions and more. Furthermore, as everyone wants to look their best during the holidays. KENL INN’s groom salon can make your dog look his or her best too! Whether it’s a bath, a style, painted toenails, pretty bows or bandanas, we can make it happen. So essentially with our boarding, training and grooming services we can help you cover all of the holiday bases!”
So now that you are thinking ahead towards the holidays, remember while you are in the midst of your planning and shopping that you also factor in time to enjoy all of the special moments in between. We wish you success in your holiday planning endeavors, and when in doubt, make sure to utilize the local experts who specialize taking the stress and hassle out of the process and delivering exactly what you hoped for – and oftentimes more!