February 3, 2015

"Christmas in Old Nauvoo"

Late this fall, the bishop (religious leader) of our ward approached Garrett and I asking us if we would organize and put on this year's Christmas party.  Something simple.  Nothing too extravagant, maybe a few musical numbers, some dinner, maybe have "Santa" come visit, but nothing that would require a lot of work.  I initially had full intentions of doing just that because with our Loaves of Love and Special Santa fundraisers we were participating in (as well as a Christmas choir I was performing in), November and December were going to be busy!  But then.........I remembered a fun church Christmas Party we had been a part of in Minnesota, and I decided to re-create it in hopes that a really different Christmas party would draw a lot of people out for an evening of fun in the middle of the often-hectic holiday season.

Soooo......November and December became much more busy and poor Garrett got roped into a lot more than he had bargained for!  It was A LOT of work but so much fun to plan, and luckily a lot of willing people in our church pitched in to make the party a real success.

(Backgournd on Nauvoo: Nauvoo, IL, is a city that was founded by the Mormon pioneers in the late 1830's after they were driven out of Missouri.  Built on a swamp, Nauvoo rapidly became the largest city in Illinois at the time.  Joseph Smith wrote about the Christmas on 1843 in Nauvoo in his journal, the last Christmas before he was killed by an angry mob in June 1844.  So our party was based off of everything we know of that Christmas.)

Luckily, our good friend Kay Schaugaard owns a large costume business so the 100+ people who came to the party were able dress in their best Nauvoo party attire provided by Kay.

We turned the church building into "Old Nauvoo", with different rooms representing the different historical buildings still found in the city......

The Stoddard Tin Shop, where people could come pound their own Christmas Ornaments.

Kids could visit the Scovil Bakery and decorate gingerbread cookies.

There were stick-pulling games in "the Grove".

People were able to write Christmas letters to send to our missionaries for Christmas in the Sidney Rigdon Post Office

And there was a Nauvoo Temple room where people could view videos about the building of the temple and learn fun facts surrounding the incredible process and sacrifice that went into its construction.

Someone had an authentic key to the original Nauvoo Temple, which the Mormons were only able to barely finish building before they were driven out of the city and the temple was burned to the ground. 

The cultural hall became Joseph and Emma Smith's "Mansion House", where they fed and housed many travelers.  We even had Joseph and Emma as our gracious hosts and served homemade stew, rolls, and pies as would have been served for Christmas dinner in Nauvoo in 1843.

Orrin Porter Rockwell (Joseph Smith's friend and bodyguard) brought vintage holiday suckers for the children and read the Christmas story from Luke 2 (a fun change from the usual "Santa visit").  

Our little pioneer family.  

Thanks for everyone's help making the party a lot of fun!  (And now I willingly pass the party-planning baton onto someone else.  Whew!)

1 comment:

Taffy and Tony said...

AMAZING job, Holly! I am in LOVE with this idea and would love to do it for our Christmas party next year, but yikes! Looks like so much work! And I don't know how to go about the costumes. I just think it wouldn't be nearly as fun without them. Anyway, great job, and this idea will definitely be floating around my head now.

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