Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer
The fourth annual Ornament Exchange at Discover Church was held last Friday. Close to 250 women packed what is normally the sanctuary space for the non-denominational church. During the three-hour event, attendees enjoyed a meal and homemade dessert, games, music, a speaker, a silent auction, and an ornament exchange. Each six- to eight-top table was hosted by an individual volunteer or a volunteer team who focused on creative themes such as nutcrackers, woodland animals, gnomes, snowflakes, snowmen, and more.
“I have been doing ornament exchanges for 15 years … the first a small gathering in my house … as a reason for ladies to get together and celebrate Christmas, with food and laughter,” said organizer Julie Adams. “I’ve been blown away by how this Ornament Exchange at Discover Church has grown in four years. Seventy the first year, 130 the second, then 230, and 249 this year.”
“It’s just a really good time for women to be women and have a night off during the holidays,” said Michelle Graham. “This is my third time being involved and I just like to serve women who are busy.”
“There is such a need for women to meet and connect with other women,” added Adams. “We get so stuck in routines that it’s worth it to do something different.” She pointed out that some women come to the church for the Ornament Exchange and realize “how much they miss worship and feeling connected to others.”
Graham, whose table focused on an upscale animal print theme, said the annual Ornament Exchange event is not only for women who attend Discover Church, but anyone in the community – or visitors. “Some of the women who sit at the table I host are invited and I know them well, but others I do not know well or not at all. I always pray for the women that are going to be sitting at the table – that they would be filled during the evening in so many ways.”
Added Devonne Jimison, who has hosted a table for the past two years, “This event is a wonderful way to reach out to women in the whole community. So many women who come say they just don’t have anything like this … it’s about getting to know one another, and enjoying a wonderful evening.” Jimison’s table theme was jewel-tones and peacock.
Sue Joiner, who sat at Jimison’s table, said it was her first time at the Ornament Exchange. “I had no idea there was going to be so much creativity and glitz,” she said.
“They really take ownership of their tables,” said Adams of the hosts. “It’s a creative way to carve out a ladies night. It ends up being a big mix of Franklin … not just a church event.”
The 2020 Ornament Exchange at Discover Church will take place the first Friday of December.