Creating Holiday Traditions in Your Community
Last Updated November 28, 2017
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is made worthwhile by the beautiful dinners, festive parties, and other traditions we can look forward to. For families and friends who prefer to avoid giant piles of dishes and weeks of stressful planning, culinary and cultural experiences offer new opportunities for annual traditions.
Theresa Nemetz is the owner and operator of Milwaukee Food & City Tours and offers five different holiday experiences. She was kind enough to share a few thoughts on running tours during the snowy months, and how building these new traditions has actually changed her business.
Ez: Tell us a bit about what inspired you to create your holiday tours.
Theresa: Really listening to customer feedback. Our customers were always asking us, even though its winter time and we’re not out there doing walking tours, could we create something for that Christmas spirit. And that’s where we were able to develop those tours.
Ez: What traditions do you have for experiences with friends and family over the holidays? Do you see your experiences becoming an annual tradition in your community?
Theresa: Absolutely! We are seeing that the tours have become a popular option for families to do together for the holidays. One of the best parts of the Christmas tours for us is to see how many families are coming out on the tours as a multi generational outing. For example, on our Christmas Around Milwaukee bakery bus tour we have so many families where the grandmothers, mothers and the grand daughters that are coming out have said that they are done baking Christmas cookies and done having to clean up the kitchen and we just want to come out and do this as our tradition. So it has truly become something that we see families coming out every year on. We also do a special Christmas Lights and Desserts tour and on that particular tour we’ve even had a marriage proposal!
Ez: What are the things that go into an experience that families go to every year?
Theresa: For building each of the tours we’re really looking for things that people may not already know about. So
maybe taking them to Christmas parks to see displays or going to see window displays that maybe they would not go to on their own. Our process is really to take them to hidden gems. On our Christmas Around Milwaukee bakery bus tour, we go to small establishments, locally owned, that someone may not have heard about or maybe to a location that focuses on an ethnicity that they may not know about. For example, we go to a women owned bakery called La Flor De Trigo. On that tour we talk about Mexican Christmas traditions, we talk about the Three King Celebration and we talk about the cakes in which the little mini baby Jesus is baked into the cake and how it ties into that tradition. I would say that the vast majority of our attendees never would have gone to that bakery or have looked into Mexican traditions had it not been for the tours. The basis of all of our tours is hidden gems and taking people to places that maybe they would have never gone to.
Ez: We see some delicious looking baked goods on your tours, but you also have things like wine and hot chocolate. What were you looking for when creating a quintessential Milwaukee holiday experience?
Theresa: We really wanted to be able to tie into Milwaukee traditions as well as the ethnic traditions. For example, on our Lights & Desserts tours we do offer hot chocolate & coffee but then we also offer gluvine, which is a German tradition for Christmas. Its a mulled wine. Milwaukee has a really strong German heritage. Over 51 % of Milwaukeeans have a german heritage, so we really wanted to incorporate that into the story on the tours. We also want to showcase places that are Milwaukee based. We go to Indulgence Chocolate where they have chocolate truffles also paired with Wisconsin wines. So we’re really trying to show off Milwaukee specifically.
Ez: Most of your holiday adventures take place on a bus, which is a great way to solve the problem of chilly or wet weather. What other challenges have you had to solve offering winter/fall experiences?
Theresa: Snow. One of our biggest challenges is snow as well as making sure that everyone is prepared for that weather so that they can get off the bus safely and enjoy the Christmas lights. The Christmas tours just truly are my favorite tours of the year. Everyones in a great holiday spirit. Its wonderful see the families all coming out together and celebrating together. It honestly was what ended up launching us into the company that we are because we would have never been a year round tours company. By launching the seasonal tours it really made us look at how we could offer bus tours year round.
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