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Gift Ideas to Support Our Local Service Industry – Parent Blog

If you’re anything like me, you are just getting Christmas shopping underway. I am always late to the game. Target is out of Christmas lights, Amazon is taking forever to ship everything, and I feel like I am behind! This year is more difficult for many, financially and socially. Our family is no different. We are trying to give quality gifts while making our dollars count. Before I was a teacher, I worked in restaurants and bars for 25 years, as did my husband and many of our friends. I am terrified that many of these small businesses in our community will not survive and I am positive that many of the workers are stretched beyond their limits right now. Many are unable to collect unemployment because they are employed, there are just very few customers. So, what is an easy way to get local gifts that will make a difference in our community and get shopping done?

Gift cards and over tipping!! It goes without saying that some businesses are faring better than others, and all are important. While I am sure I will ignore lots, I am going to highlight a few types of service industry businesses that may be experiencing a cascade of bad fortune in a global pandemic.  While some venues listed below may not yet be safe for hanging out in, buying a gift card as a holiday gift for someone (or hey, maybe yourself!) to use in the future still goes a long way to support these businesses!

Holiday Plate

Nibbles and Sips

The downtown bar/restaurant community is experiencing unprecedented drops in revenue. Imagine, no concerts, sporting events, festivals, and many office buildings empty for extended periods. Small places in old buildings and no patios. Many lost CWS revenue and are really struggling by this point.

Block 16

Wilson and Washburn

Session Room

Omaha Tap House

The Dubliner Pub Omaha

Hook and Lime

Barretts Barleycorn


Light Fare and Sips

Imagine not even being able to offer carryout food! Many of these places are owned by single individuals with little reserves. The servers and bartenders are the owners on many occasions.


Trap room

Library Pub

Elbow Room

Liv Lounge



Things I miss- lines for the bathroom, other people’s beer breath, crowds, live music!! Imagine not being able to put on a concert for an entire year and somehow keep your business open. I literally cannot wait to go see a concert at The Slowdown when this is over. It will be devastating to our community and the culture of the city if we lose small music venues like this and others. Anything we can do in these times to lift them up could help ensure a future that looks somewhat normal. I noticed that some of these places have announced shows for Spring- buy some tickets or merch. Concert tickets will be an unexpected gift this year!

Movie theatres are suffering as well. Do you remember when you had to sneak alcohol into a theatre? I do. It was so embarrassing when everyone looked as you cracked the can open! I am way happier to just order my favorite IPA from the server. Let’s support the venues that let us do that.


The Slowdown

The Waiting Room

Film Streams

Aksarben Cinema

Lookout Lounge



Why not pay a little extra for alcohol inspired gifts and skip the big retail outlets? Marks in Dundee has rebranded and some up with an awesome concept to get through these times. Since summer, they are Marks’s Pantry and Bottle Shop. Don’t forget about Dundee Cork and Bottle right around the corner. Local Breweries have takeout options that make great gifts or supplies for binge watching whatever our Netflix overlords command. Zipline Brewing downtown has lots of merch available as well.

Our community is in need and so far, there is no one coming to help. It is up to us. This is not an exhaustive list, so keep an eye out in your own area. Feel free to ask businesses what they need. Lets help our friends and neighbors while making shopping simpler. Gifting this year can be purposeful and thoughtful all at once.

***Blog Written By:  Amy H., Montessori Co-Op School Parent and Marketing Committee Member

***Photo Credit: Cassandra Z., Montessori Co-Op School Parent and Marketing Committee Chair