By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
Gaynelle Thomas was there when it began nine years ago and she’ll be in the middle of the preparations Saturday as Altrusa’s annual Holiday Happening gets under way at the Campus Union Building ballroom at Eastern New Mexico University.
Thomas, and her daughter, Cozetta Moore, will each decorate two tables for this year’s gala fund-raiser.
“It’s an elegant affair,” said Thomas. “To me, it starts the holiday season off.”
Growing from 23 tables at the first event in 1998 to 67 at this year’s event, the Holiday Happening has become a tradition for Portales, say the pair. Many of the tables at the event can have the same theme, yet it will be used in a different manner, said Thomas.
From elegant to whimsical, the tables are decorated in various themes, said Moore. Some can be labor intensive and involved, while others are simple and easy to put together, she said.
“You definitely don’t have to make it expensive,” said Thomas.
They say ideas for the tables can be picked up anywhere. While out shopping they may see an item they like and start building a theme from that one item, said Thomas.
“You can do all kinds of things. It’s just a matter of what you find and use,” said Moore.
Once the theme has been decided, the decorator can choose what dishes, tablecloth, napkins, centerpieces and any other items that will go with that theme, says Moore.
“Once you have a theme, the rest just kinda falls (into place),” said Moore.
As the event draws near, many people start to put their tables together at home beforehand to see what it will look like, said Moore. Others will put their tables up today and make any last minute adjustments or additions at that time, said Moore.
As the day for decorating the tables fast approaches, the flurry of activity will increase, said Thomas and Moore. It’s a lot of fun to watch the room transform as the tables are being decorated, said Moore.
“The people who come in for the program do not realize the chaos that goes on behind the scenes during setup on Friday,” said Moore.
Many people that attend the event get ideas for their own decorating.
They also can become hooked on the event and want to decorate a table, said Thomas.
“That’s part of the reason the tables sell out so quickly,” said Thomas.
Though preparing and setting up for the event can be a lot of work, Thomas and Moore agree that it is a fun and worthwhile event in which to be involved.
“It’s just a thrill to see the event,” said Thomas. “You’ll be tired, but it will be a rewarding tired.”
Money raised from the event will go to charities that the Altrusa club sponsors, they both said.
“It makes a big donation to charity,” said Moore. “You know that your part has helped make a contribution to the community.”