The Effective Communication Coach, LLC - President/Owner
"Great hosts always ensure their guests feel connected and valued during the event! Whether the event is virtual or an intimate in person group, kick it off with 'Shout Outs of Holiday Cheer' by creating a slide or handwritten cards for guests who you couldn’t connect with as much during 2020. List power words that describe qualities of your guests that you appreciate along with wishes to experience their amazing essence even more in 2021! This is a great way to reignite the connection to those you miss and spread joy at the same time!"
From: Faye Wetzel
Faye’s - Founder/Owner
"I have this theory about how to find the perfect gift: spend just 10 minutes totally focused on the person for whom you are buying a gift. 'Oh – she has beautiful blue eyes – a blue patterned scarf would be perfect! He is such an animal lover, he’d really appreciate a donation to HAWS.' It doesn’t take hours of shopping to MAKE IT MEANINGFUL! Trust me on this!"
From: Erik Kennedy
Advocate Aurora Health - Community Relations Coordinator, Sr.
"Remember to offer viable refreshing drinks so everyone can feel like they are a part of the festivities. Alcoholic drinks and mocktails provide a festive elegance to one's gathering. Being inclusive and ensuring everyone feels welcomed will help create new memorable holiday memories. And P.S. mocktails are not just for pregnant women, designated drivers, and children." #InThisTogether
From: Susan and Andrew Varela
Broadway Performers, now living in MKE!
"A fun hosting tip is for each guest to take turns calling out a favorite tune to the Amazon Alexa. Choose a theme such as a favorite holiday song or a favorite 80's jam and each person gets a turn in the spotlight to chat about their choice. It can be a party pick-me-up or an ice breaker - either way it's a great way to keep the festivities bubbling!"
From: May yer Thao
WHEDA - Assistant Deputy Director
"Make your guests feel extra special with small mementos of the event such as personalized gifts that each guest can bring home with them!"
From: Deirdra Kendrix and Ossie Kendrix
DC Global Group, African American Chamber of Commerce of Wisconsin
"Our holiday dessert and cocktail features Ossie's Peach Cobbler and Deirdra's Coquito. In moderation applies to this holiday dessert and cocktail as the peaches are soaked in bourbon and the Coquito is a family recipe that includes a lot of rum. Let’s get the party started!"
From: Anne Zizzo
Zizzo Group Engagement Marketing - Founder/CEO
"Go big - literally. Red magnums, white magnums… this is the year to bust open large format bottles of amazing wine that scream generosity and conviviality; the ones you’ve been waiting to open. Give your loved ones the aesthetic of celebration. Cheers!"
From: Tracy Johnson
CARW - Commercial Association of REALTORS Wisconsin - President & CEO
"Make it memorable: I make white chocolate peppermint bark packaged in festive gift bags. They are ready to go for teacher gifts, when I visit friends or even as host gifts. It can be made in bulk and is even better cold."
From: Jeff Sherman
"Each Christmas season, I read daily from the Little Blue Advent Book - helps anchor me. My wife and I always display artwork from our childhood ... I drew an amazing reindeer when I was 7! And, The Muppets. You gotta have the Muppets for the holidays. The John Denver special is old school goodness, while Muppets 'Letters to Santa' is a more modern, family favorite!"
From: Jessob Reisbeck
CBS-58 News - Anchor
"Have fun, smile and just be kind! Especially around the holidays… nobody wants to be around a Grinch! Whether you’re the one hosting/entertaining, or you’re being hosted/entertained… be the happy, kind, positive person in the room! It’s contagious (and not the bad kind of 'contagious' that we’ve heard way too much about this year)! Happy Holidays!"
From: Michael Unger
Skylight Music Theatre - Artistic Director
"Although friends and family may be in different time zones, invite them to gather (virtually) at the same time for some online entertainment. We at Skylight Music Theatre have cooked up Skylight Sings: A Holiday Special - From Our Home in the Cabot Theatre. It features 20 Skylight performers and a wide range of music from Broadway tunes to traditional songs, plus heartwarming holiday memories from everyone involved. For the "after-party," invite your guests to Zoom and share their own favorite holiday memory or song. More info at www.skylightmusictheatre.org"
From: Molly Fay
The Morning Blend on TMJ4
"My go-to holiday party dip has just 2 ingredients. It's the easiest appetizer you'll ever make, and everybody loves it! Just place a brick of cream cheese on your favorite platter and pour a jar of pepper jelly on top. I love Trader Joe's Hot & Sweet Pepper Jelly, but you can use any brand. Serve with your favorite crackers and -- Voila! You're a party planning pro like David Caruso!"
From: Cecelia Gore
Brewers Community Foundation - Executive Director
"My husband Randy and I love to invite a few couples over to share a holiday meal. I “present” my Stetson Salad, a recipe lifted from Cowboy Ciao a now closed favorite Arizona restaurant and dazzle my guests along with the other delicacies we have gathered. Always fun to take a breath and have a good laugh. Happy Holidays!"
From: Jennifer Bartolotta
Bartolotta & Associates - Founder & President
"I'm so grateful to live in Milwaukee and want to help our iconic institutions make it through the pandemic and emerge on the other side. So, this year I'm diverting my entire "gift" budget. In honor of those I would have given gifts to, instead I’m making donations to several iconic Milwaukee institutions - from restaurants to The Milwaukee Public Museum to Black Arts MKE."
From: David Lee
Imagine MKE - CEO
"Feel more connected to guests at your Zoom holiday party with a virtual music festival! Pick a general theme or feeling, like "festive," "warm" or "inspired" and ask your guests to Zoom chat you a link to a song that gets them in that mood. Once collected, ask your guests to share a short story about their song before playing it over screen share. After the party, create a playlist to share with your guests as a gift!"
From: Wendell E. Willis
Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation - Executive Director
"Take this unusual holiday season to gift yourself or someone special to you something relating to self-care. For myself, it’s usually making or ordering a meal I wouldn’t normally have and pairing it with a favorite beer or cocktail. Since the holidays must be different, this is a great time to send someone the ingredients for their favorite cocktail or a nice beer or bottle of wine. Maybe even consider delivering them a small holiday meal or care package from your favorite restaurant. We surprised my parents with Steaks from 5 O’clock Steakhouse recently."
From: Caitlin Cullen
The Tandem - Chef/Owner
"Take the time to make a proper playlist, even if it's the last thing you do before folks arrive. Search out songs that fit your holiday mood, making sure to consider the tastes of your guests and to include enough songs so the music doesn't get stale if the party runs long. Slap that bad boy into shuffle mode on repeat while you're getting ready for company and have a great holiday!"
From: Beth Ridley
The Brimful Life - Founder & CEO
"The best gift you can give someone special - including YOURSELF - this holiday season is the gift of positivity. Research shows that investing in experiences and meaningful relationships as well as incorporating mindfulness into our daily lives boosts our resilience and positivity even when we cannot change things around us (i.e., global pandemic). Combine mindfulness, experiences, and relationship in one easy gift this season by giving the gift of a walk with a family member, friend, or colleague. Bundle up and chose a nice park or interesting locale to walk, talk and be in the moment. Some of my favorite walking places include the Oak Leaf Trail, Urban Ecology Center and Lakeshore State Park. So why give socks when you can give the gift of lasting happiness this holiday season instead?"
From: Janette Braverman
Cardinal Stritch University - Executive Director of External Partnerships Ozaukee County Board Supervisor
"I use essential oils year-round. During the holiday season, I love scents like pumpkin pie and cinnamon. I have diffusers in almost every room. They’re so soothing and are great for establishing a festive mood for parties of any size."
From: Monica and Michael Jurken
"We love incorporating an item that guests can take home with them afterwards. This is especially fun for small gatherings where the item can be a bit more personal. A favorite lip gloss, cute facemask, or even a custom ornament incorporated into the place setting have all been huge hits with our guests!"
From: Marty Brooks
Wisconsin Center District - President & CEO
"I always recommend giving guests a parting gift to keep the memories of the event going. Whether sentimental or humorous, ten or ten thousand, I want my guests to know that their experience before, during, and after the event is my top priority. I love hosting events and find a lot of joy in creating special moments to connect with everyone there."
From: Anne Reed
Wisconsin Humane Society - President & CEO
"I’ve always loved to serve hot mulled wine in holiday mugs, and this year I’m promoting it from a 'nice to have' to an absolute must. After all, we’ll be on the front porch with our friends instead of inside – so we’ll need its magical warming qualities."
From: Peggy Williams-Smith
VISIT Milwaukee - President & CEO
"Since cooking is not my forte, my best entertaining advice is to order food from your favorite local restaurant. Create a signature cocktail and a self-service bar featuring local spirits and your favorite beers. Have it all set up before your guests arrive so that you are able to enjoy the gathering, versus spending all your time cooking and bartending. The best gift you can give your guests, is the gift of spending time with you."
From: Adam Pawlak
Egg & Flour Pasta Bar - Chef &Owner
"Give a food kit as a gift this year so friends and family can make a meal at home. Fresh pasta, sauces, and garnish to cook at home! Have them take pictures and show off the final product!"
From: Kevin Sucher
88Nine Radio Milwaukee - Executive Director
"Our musical family always looks forward to our tradition of 'karaoke-before-you-open-your-gift' time. It’s fun for the singers in the family and even more fun watching the ones that hate participating. Everyone is a winner!"
From: Nancy Hernandez
ABRAZO Multicultural Marketing & Communication - Founder/Owner
"I love a good holiday party or dinner! Of course, all will be small (and maybe outdoors) this year, but my favorite entertaining rule will still apply! Just when they think they couldn’t have had a better time; you wow them with the perfect party favor as they go out the door. Among my favorites: homemade Tiramisu in a mason jar; a mini box with all the fixings for a bourbon Old Fashion from scratch; or homemade chocolate covered sea salt caramels."
MKE Downtown - CEO
"A joyful way I like to spend time with loved ones in a safe and 'snowcially-distanced' way is to get out and enjoy the fresh air, the holiday lights and some delicious locally made cookies while strolling through our festively decorated downtown parks. Go to MilwaukeeHolidayLights.com. Download the jingle bus tour map, pre-order your Jingle Joy Box and then download the MKE Jingle Bus virtual tour at iHeartRadio. Meet your guests at Zeidler Union Square, pick up your treats and start the walking or driving tour from there all while enjoying fresh air, grabbing great selfies and getting into the Milwaukee holiday spirit!"
Municipal Court Judge
"In addition to regular freezer ice cubes, I like to keep 'Singular Ice' cubes on hand as well. These large crystal-clear ice cubes are the perfect accompaniment to your favorite scotch, bourbon, or cognac. The large cubes, made here in Milwaukee, melt slower and reduce the dilution of your favorite spirit."
From: Jason Rae
Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce - President & CEO
"Every year, my friends and I gather for what we call ‘Cookie Summit’ to taste new cookies. This year, since we can’t physically gather, we’re swapping recipes virtually, making small batches to try out and gathering on Zoom to share holiday cheer. Even if you can’t be together in person, you can still try out a bunch of new cookies!"
From: Shary Tran
Amazon - Principal Diversity Partner
"I love all the great restaurants in Milwaukee, so when putting my Christmas gift list together, I always remember my favorite service industry folks. They work hard to bring us joy and deserve some good cheer in return. Each Christmas, I become the 'Egg Roll Elf' and make homemade egg rolls to deliver to the staff at my favorite Milwaukee restaurants."
From: Elizabeth Kay
99.1 The Mix - Morning Radio Host
"Every year we get a real tree and I love clipping off a few of the sprigs and using them throughout the house. I'll put the sprigs in napkin rings when I'm setting the table, I'll slip a few between the bottles on our bar shelves and place some on the mantles and next to framed photos. I will also slip a sprig into the ribbons before I tie the bow on the presents."
From: The Daniels Crew - John II, Joy, John IV
"Ask each family member/household to pen a stanza of their own 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' based on a family memory. In the end, you’ll have created a treasured family storybook to share every holiday season."
From: Dear Ruthie
"For a no-fuss appetizer, simply drizzle a little honey over a wedge of blue cheese. Top with a few chopped pecans, and garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a few fresh cranberries. Serve with crackers or toasted baguette rounds. Bing, bam, boom. Done!"