In the late ‘90’s– we did a Christmas Tea where Mrs. Snafflebuster taught little Snafflebuster’s in training proper etiquette (we were really trying to help some ladies without being too obvious & when we laugh, we learn, right?)
In 2006 I was asked, along with another staff member to do the first GNO, to be over the Party Under the Stars. For those first ones we really wanted the “wow” factor, so we would partially decorate, then during the service, we would put the last layer on, so that when the ladies came out, it would be like “wow, what happened?” Pastor Dan had a crew of Shift guys that brought out about 20 white, glittered styrofoam Christmas trees to the outer foyer and dropped 2 big canvas paintings of snowy forests and we had an instant “snowy forest” look. All of the Expo and party was contained within the inner and outer foyers! We did Demos at either end of the inner foyer. Our gift that year was popcorn balls in a Christmas mug—Ask Rev. Theresa how many hours and ladies that took!!
2007 – We did a Nutcracker theme and had “Land of the Sweets” where you could scoop candies into little bags yourself! Yeh, we never did that again! And we had chocolate fountains but some of you got caught “double dipping” so, yeh, we never did that again either!
2008 – We had an ice skating rink in the outer foyer and a professional ice skater with snow coming down from the roof. Some others like Pastor Jess did a bit of ice skating!
2009 – Everything was black and white checks – P. Deborah’s favorite MacKenzie-Childs look! We checkered all the columns, inside and out: the outer rim of the fountain was checkered; giant ornaments were checkered (see pic); we turned the fountain into a giant Christmas tree (like this year!) and we even had 6” wide checkered ribbon on it! And my “rev” that year was liquid starch—we began that year always looking for a way to involve the 2 lion statues, so we checkered them! Following GNO, it rained and washed them all off!
Praying and standing against rain for outside events became a way for me to develop my faith—we’ve never been rained out, but we’ve come pretty close!
2010 – Began out “burlap days” and we had burlap for years after that. It was Burlap and Bling. We made giant trees by looping strips of burlap (show pic) (thanks Maricel Omura!) and we used those trees for years across every venue of the church! We made 2 giant fireplaces for the outer foyer with burlap stockings hanging (which we sold after) and we had “real” fire on the logs there also! We hand stenciled the vendor numbers on burlap banners and letters like “Demos” and “Feliz Navidad” on burlap squares. We also had a living nativity complete with camel & the manger used for this year’s production was made by a volunteer.
2011 – We added plaid to our burlap and plaid stuck with us for a long time also! I had 2 white birch trees die the winter before so we had birch branches hanging that we’ve used for many years, hanging mason jars and ribbon and ornaments and lights and everything else from those branches.
2012 – We had a living nativity again but brought it to the front of the courtyard, complete with Mommy and baby camels, you could walk around amidst the animals and characters, petting them, taking pix. We started a Pinterest room with a Genius Bar that year that we did for a few years after that. We continued doing demos but spread the vendors to the youth auditorium, demos in the Jr Hi room.
2013 – We did a big snow play area in the courtyard with this stuff that absorbed water (like in baby diapers), to make it puff up like snow! We had tons of guys out there (P. Mondo, Andreis Adame, to name a few) mixing it up originally, then try to maintain the snow fights that the kids got in during the party. We had snow machines going on over the snow area, but that just turned it into a big “slip-n-slide!!” Yeh, we never did that again…
2014 – We had a living nativity again but just in the fountain area, and you stood in line to pet them. We added a “glow-in-the-dark” Club Jingle in the Jr Hi room this year and had prizes for the best Pinterest design.
2015 – Perhaps my favorite year for themes and décor with did a “Narnia” theme. Where our snowy “woods” was a Christmas tree lot of donated (thank you, Vilma Johnson, Mia Banks, and Bryan Schultze), flocked (thank you, Daniel Price!) and for sale for $20. With snow machines going (purchased 2, rented 2) and ladies could “walk through the wardrobe” (thank you, Ron Nutt & Shane Parker) or take their pictures with Aslan (yes, our lions covered w/ masking tape strips & stained w/ brown shoe wax). We had a tree decorating contest in the Pinterest Room where the winner was the most creative using the least amount of money – Shonda Valdez got first place – her tree was made on a ladder – she didn’t spend one penny!
2016 – Again had our flocked trees for sale, the theme was old Christmas movies so we had an old car, characters like Elf walking around, scenes for photo ops. We had the Sugar Plum Singers, repping ‘40’s music and our amazing facilities guys (thanks, Andrew Castro and Ron Muro) made our incredible red sleigh you can sit in for pix! We engaged TRCS children in making snowflakes and we decorated the outer foyer, just like Elf would, with lots of snowflakes, paper chains, and cheer!
Things I lament:
We never could produce the camel rides that P. Deborah begged for every year after she experienced the life-changing moment of riding one in Israel! We tried, but doing the math, for 3,000 ladies to each ride a camel for 3 minutes we would have been there for 155 hours!!
It was hard to let the Demos go—we did them for years, every way you could design with chicken wire, we did! But ladies just really wanted to shop and keep moving so we had to let them go!
I’m glad to see plaid back—we did that for several years, along with the burlap! Long live burlap!!