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On Dec. 7, one of Bluffton's historic homes will radiate with sparkling lights on the trees, bonfires in the yard and New Orleans-style music for an event to support historic preservation in the town.
The Bluffton Historical Preservation Society is hosting its third annual Old World Christmas Gala, its largest fundraiser of the year, at the Colcock-Teel House in Old Town.
Proceeds from the event go to the society's long list of needs and initiatives, said Maureen Richards, executive director of the historical society. The Bluffton Historical Preservation Society has an annual operating budget of $200,000.
"Our mission is to protect, preserve and promote the history and cultural heritage of Bluffton and St. Luke's Parrish," Richards said in an email. "We inherited the Colcock-Teel House in 2008 to be used for historical purposes and needed to raise some extra funds. We decided to hold a Christmas gala to showcase the property to the community and possibly gain some new society members to help us carry out our mission."
Tamela Maxim, chairman of the committee planning the event, said unlike years past, the society will hold an old-fashioned tombola, or drawing, instead of an auction. Tickets for the tombola can be purchased for $5 each. Prizes being given away include golf outings and gift certificates. The largest prize is a stay-cation package at the Marriott's Grande Ocean resort on Hilton Head Island for seven nights.
To go along with the historical setting, organizers have suggested that attendees dress in period costume.
"We are encouraging people to wear period dress from 1840s to the 1920s," Maxim said. "Hoop skirts, old-fashioned dresses, stuff like that... Since it goes to the 1920's, some people dressed in flapper dresses."
Richards said a few people came the first year in period clothing, but did not dress in costume last year.
"The property's live oak grove and gala's traditional dècor provide the perfect setting for guests to step back in time," she said. "It is surely fun and festive to dress the part but it is not required."
A traditional Southern holiday meal will be served with dishes such as country ham and gravy, May River Oyster dressing, sweet potato soufflè with caramelized pecans and bread pudding with bourbon sauce.
Along with its historic atmosphere, guests will be encouraged to roam through the "secret" nature trail decorated for the holiday from the house to the Oyster Factory Park. The house will be decorated with the theme "Historic Plantation Christmas Holiday" in mind, Richards said, with vintage clothing and textiles displayed in the three rooms of the house.
The decorating committee is also working on a few extra pieces such as mistletoe balls to hang throughout the property, Maxim said.
"It's going to look as much like a fairyland as we can make it," she said. "It's going to be really, really pretty."
The committee is also making table centerpieces that will be sold for $20 apiece, she said.
Also new this year is a photo booth. Pictures will cost $5.
Last year about 150 people attended the event, but Maxim hopes to see double that at this year's event.
"I'm kind of an ambitious person, and I set really high goals," she said. "The people working on this are so excited and so dedicated. Three hundred is pretty much a sell-out."