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Consider giving a getaway package Concert tickets, ski lift passes make good gifts By ANDREW BOTTRELL

Know someone who needs to get away? A weekend trip just might be the perfect Christmas gift for them. Whether it be a ski trip to Colorado, a weekend in Omaha at the Henry Doorly Zoo or a concert at someone’s favorite venue, sometimes people just need to get out of town. “That’s definitely something that we can do,” said Tammy Brown, a travel agent

at the AAA Nebraska office in North Platte. “It’s definitely a really good option for a gift. We also have gift certificates, so [the gift giver] could come in and get a gift certificate, and [the recipient] can determine what they want to do with it.” Planning the perfect weekend for a family member or friend could be a little tricky, Brown said. You might have to let them in on the planning but it’s a unique and fun idea. And North Platte is within driving distance of plenty of entertainment options. “[People like to go to] Estes Park, Denver, Omaha — the destinations that have a lot of things going on like concerts and a lot of different types of fun things to do,” she said.

However, she said, travelers can still hop a plane and get to a few spots a little farther away for the weekend, like Las Vegas or Texas. “If it’s just a weekend getaway, to drive there is probably the best option,” Brown said. “You can also do a quick getaway and fly to Chicago and have plenty of time.” If gift givers want to do the planning themselves and are looking for sporting events, there are many websites such as that offer ticket packages to most sporting events. If the family likes to ski, check out, which offers condition reports and lift ticket deals to ski resorts throughout Colorado. Hoping to find a concert?

Try or For example, anyone interested in Imagine Dragons can purchase tickets beginning at $29.50 for their show on March 15 at Pepsi Center in Denver. Brown said people who plan their own trip and go through various websites to get tickets and set up an itinerary should be careful of some of the fine print. “I would say you have to be careful, if you’re trying to do it on your own, be careful with a third party while looking for options,” Brown said. “A lot of times cancellations policies are different than what we can do. If something comes up and you need to change things, they make it impossible.”


Adding elegance to holiday dinner parties doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, Chuck Lalanne, chef at the Canteen Bar and Grille in North Platte, is a firm believer that simple is always better. “My advice to people would be, ‘Don’t overextend yourself,’ ” Lalanne said. “Not everyone is a Martha Stewart. When people try to do too much, they tend to get frustrated.” Lalanne suggested setting the tone of the evening by greeting guests at the door with a glass of champagne. Adding a strawberry or other fresh fruit to the drink can be a good way to brighten it up. When entertaining in his home, Lalanne likes to have jazz music playing lightly in the background. He also makes sure the temperature remains around 70 degrees so guests stay comfortable. “I match the lighting to the time the party is scheduled for,” Lalanne said. “During the day, lights are up. At night, they can be dimmed a little bit, but not so much that it’s too dark to see.” He said rustic themes and natural products are popular. However, any theme can be memorable — especially when personalized to the host’s tastes or experiences. “Selecting a theme can be as easy as picking a time from childhood,” Lalanne said. “Have fun and be casual. Steal ideas from your grandma. If you go retro, maybe use stemware from the ’50s.” He recommended folding napkins, whether cloth or paper, and using place settings. Those could be created by writing a name directly on a wine glass, or by decorating a glass with a monogrammed charm. “White tablecloths and flowers make a lot of effect on presentation,” Lalanne said. “Mirrors, floating candles, wine glasses with marbles on the bottom — there are so many ways to be creative inexpensively.” He recommends keeping centerpieces seasonal. Gourds, fresh grapes and pears dress up Thanksgiving tables and mini Christmas trees, ornaments and poinsettias add beauty at Christmas. White plates placed behind food in a buffet line can serve as dry erase boards and clean up easily. Lalanne likes to stand them on end and write on them with differ-

Heather Johnson / The North Platte Telegraph

Chef Chuck Lalanne (left) pours a cosmopolitan cocktail at the Canteen Bar and Grille in North Platte. He said serving cocktails in general is a good way to add elegance to holiday parties. Lalanne said he also believes adding any type of fresh fruit, such as the fancy-cut orange above, to a meal will dress it up.

ent colored markers to indicate the various foods served. He said adding any type of fruit will create a sense of elegance. Many types of cutters are available to make fun shapes in fruits and cheese. Edible flowers, particularly, bring class. Sometimes it’s the little things that dress up the meals. Lalanne suggested chilling cream of tomato soup then adding fresh dill and sour cream to it. Lemon or fresh basil will brighten it up. “Turkeys can be changed up by using different stuffings,” Lalanne said. “People might want to use a nice herb rub with roast tomatoes, or marinate the meat in soy, ginger, curry and rosemary.”

He said hors d’oeuvres should be served first, followed by soup, an entree, salad, a cheese course, if desired, dessert and coffee. And of course, there’s always the cocktails. “I just think cocktails are elegant, period — especially when served in martini glasses,” Lalanne said. “Cosmopolitans are colorful, and fresh cranberries can be added to them for a little twist.” He recommends involving kids somehow, even if it’s just by serving them sparkling grape juice. “In the end, that’s what a dinner party is all about,” Lalanne said. “It’s the food, the friends and the family.”


Chef Lalanne’s advice: Save the frustration and don’t overextend yourself


Adding elegance to your holiday meal

Gift certificates to college Telegraph staff reports

The holiday season is upon us and finding a suitable gift for those we love can be difficult. One option that is becoming increasingly popular is to give a gift certificate for college classes and related expenses. “Gift certificates are a great way to help with the costs of continuing education,” said Chuck Salestrom, Mid-Plains Community College area associate vice president of marketing, public information and development. “This truly is a gift that will keep on giving for a lifetime.” According to Wendy Schramm, area director of accounting, the process of giving a gift certificate to the college is fairly simple. “Someone who would like

to purchase a gift certificate should call the business office and give us the amount of the gift and who they would like it made out to,” she said. “We can collect the payment over the phone with a credit card, or it can be handled with cash or a check, whichever they prefer.” Schramm said gift certificates can be in any dollar amount and can be used for tuition, fees, housing and meal plans at the college. They can also be used for courses that are offered through the MidPlains Center for Enterprise. For more information about gift certificates, contact Schramm at 535-3675 or at In McCook, contact Janelle Hartzer at 308-345-8101 or

Christmas trees are perfect for reflecting personalities and making a statement during the holidays. They tend to become a common focal point of holiday decor, but it’s no secret that some look better than others. So how do you make your tree look like it belongs on the pages of “Better Homes and Gardens?” A couple of local experts say it’s easy — all it takes is a little creativity.

Choosing a look “I start by selecting a central color and theme,” said Kristine Henningsen, manager of Westfield Hallmark and Floral. “I also like to work with the decorations people already have.” She said it’s not uncommon for people to get trapped in the mentality that if they have ornaments already, they should stick to those when dressing up their trees. “It is possible to have the best of both worlds by making small

Heather Johnson / The North Platte Telegraph

Kristine Henningsen, manager of Westfield Hallmark and Floral, decorates a Christmas tree in the store,

changes with simple things,” Henningsen said. “People can use their old ornaments, but add different colors and textures of ribbon to spruce things up a bit.” She said lime green has been a popular trend the past few years. This year, she’s noticing more black and silver. “That can be fun for Nebraskans because throw in some red and you have a Husker tree,” Henningsen said.

Burlap is also in style for those who want a western theme or even just a natural, or traditional look. “People think they have to go to the store to find decorations, but sometimes they are as close as the backyard,” Henningsen said. “Pine cones go nicely with the burlap.” She said the colors in a home need to be considered when selecting the colors for a tree. “Rooms have a theme whether people realize it or not,” Henningsen said. “For example, I like to use golds and old-fashioned ornaments in areas with burgundy and hunter green.”

Lights Adam Goodwin, owner of Adam Goodwin Interiors, recommends putting lights on the tree first — lots of them. “Don’t be skimpy,” Goodwin said. “For every vertical foot of tree, you should use a strand of 100 lights.” Green strands should be used on green trees and white strands should be used on white trees so the wires stay hidden in the branches. “Lighting your Christmas tree from the inside out will give it the most dynamic look,” Goodwin said. “Start at the base of the trunk, and work your way up. Wrap lights around every major branch. Move from the trunk to the tip to the back.” Garland should be put on next, according to Goodwin. He suggests starting at the top of the tree and working down — gradually increasing the amount placed.

“Plan to use about two strands of garland for every vertical foot of tree,” Goodwin said. “Use a variety from plain to elaborate.” He said thin, beaded garlands look best hung from branch to branch, and ribbons look best tucked loosely around the entire tree.

Ornaments Henningsen organizes her ornaments into groups before adding them. “I like things with different colors, textures and feels so certain things really pop,” Henningsen said. Goodwin’s advice is to hang favorites first to showcase them. Large-, medium- and finally, small-sized ornaments should then be spaced evenly around the tree. “Be sure to hang some closer to the trunk to create depth and interest,” Goodwin said.

The grand finale Floral sprays, icicles and other specialty items go on last. “We’ve definitely gone away from the tree topper trend,” Henningsen said. “I’m not even sure I would know how to put one of those on. I usually create a fluffy bow or floral mix to go up there.” Goodwin and Henningsen said the most important thing to remember is there are no strict rules for decorating. “The holidays are a special time to create warm, glamorous and fun spaces to remember for years to come,” Goodwin said. “It’s a time to be creative, enjoy company and celebrate the season.”




There is no right or wrong way to trim a tree



Recycle, reuse this holiday season By DIANE WETZEL

Holidays, while a time of celebration and sharing, can also be a time of excess and waste. The folks at Keep North Platte and Lincoln County Beautiful urge people to recycle this holiday season. Finding common household items to transform into lovely Christmas decorations can be a fun family project, said Mona Anderson executive director with KNPLCB. Anderson and staff, including Program Director Holly Carlini and Financial Director Deb Mumm, have been busy creating their entry into the annual Festival of Trees, a benefit for the Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant and the Children’s Miracle Network. The event began Friday at the Quality Inn & Suites and continues through Sunday, Dec. 1. KNPLCB’s entry this year fea-

Diane Wetzel / The North Platte Telegraph

Christmas garland can be created from recycled curtains.

tures tin tiles salvaged from the original St. Patrick’s School building, which was torn down earlier this year. Each tile is decorated with recycled Christmas cards and other baubles, including costume jewelry, ribbons and other items found around the house, tucked into junk drawers and at the bottom of jewelry boxes. Other decorations have been created from empty cereal boxes and the garland is made from old curtains.

Their entry into the event helps raise awareness of the importance of recycling and on how much fun it can be, Anderson said. “People spend so much money on things like wrapping paper, but there are so many alternatives,” she said. Finding craft projects to do together as a family is another great way to celebrate the season. During the holidays, Americans throw away 25 percent more trash than at any other time of the year. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, an additional 1 million tons of waste is thrown out. Here are some basic steps to help reduce waste: n Consider donating to a charitable organization the toys your children have outgrown. n Recycle your natural Christmas tree. n Use supplies you have on hand for wrapping gifts, such as

newspaper, comics, old maps or decorated paper grocery bags. n Save ribbons and bows and large pieces of wrapping paper for use next year. n Choose gifts with the least amount of packaging and recycle the packaging that does accumulate with gifts. n Consider giving environmentally-friendly gifts, such as reusable tote bags, lunch bags, travel mugs, house plants, bird feeders, bird houses, homemade food and handmade items. n If buying holiday cards and wrapping paper, purchase those labeled “made from recycled material,” or even better, “made from post-consumer recycled material.” n Think about buying cards that are remade from old cards. St. Jude Ranch for Children recycles cards to raise money to support their programs. To learn more, visit

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Shop Loco 2013  

Publication dedicated to small business shopping for the holidays around North Platte.