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DEA hosts Christmas with Paula

By Rebecca Mills


On Saturday, December 10th, David Emanuel Academy hosted “Christmas with Paula”, an event that can be compared to no other. DEA organized this event to support their plans for expansion, as their school has grown tremendously in recent years. The Chronicle’s own Trudie Kasper and Rebecca Mills were lucky enough to be in attendance for the once-in-a-lifetime event.


The event was hosted at The Brice House in Vidalia. The French Provincial style main house of the estate was hidden behind luscious gardens, enough so that it could be easily missed by passersby on the nearby roadway. Entering the grounds of the venue, the Christmas magic was revealed. The main house evoked the sense of a true Hallmark Christmas movie, as it was decorated in an elegant and timeless fashion. Approaching the house, guests were met by skilled carolers, and serenaded by their Christmas classics. Further into the venue, guests could hear the harmonious renderings of a seasoned harpist.



Guests were ushered into the foyer, where they were welcomed with the sight of a breathtaking 15-foot tall Christmas tree and a cozy fireplace. Excitement bubbled, as legendary Paula Deen could be seen through the rustic wooden paned windows, waiting to meet her fans. Each of the approximately 25 VIP guests were able to enjoy personable time with a wonderful and venerated true Southern chef. Paula took deep interest in each person she was greeted by, even going as far as to initiate personal conversations, make FaceTime calls to relatives that could not be in attendance, and give sincere compliments.

Following the VIP experience, guests were treated with a table of hors d’ouvres provided by Heather Belle’s catering. The delicious buffet included pimento cheese spread, chicken salad, potato soup, and sweet potato souffle.



Guests then were able to wander the bizarre vendors. Guests were told a sentimental story by Paula beforehand. While the weather was beautiful the day of the event, it was chilly in the foyer for the VIP meet and greet. Paula did not bring a jacket. She was gifted a beautiful velvety vest by Kollier and Co. Unexpectedly, that same festive red vest quickly sold out. Over 30 vendor tents were available to explore, offering goods from boutique clothing to candles to home decor and furniture to jewelry to potted plants. Each vendor, from near and far, were as excited to be a part of such an amazing experience as the guests. Browsing Johnny Boy’s Cookies and Kim’s Cheese Straws, each customer was able to find the perfect sweet, salty, or spicy snack to fit their taste. A visit to Melton Candle Company offered an experience that made guests' homes fill with the scent of the holidays. Stopping by Wren’s, Kollier and Co., and several others allowed guests to pick not only the perfect outfit for themselves for holiday gatherings, but gifts for everyone on their wishlist as well. Stopping by Custom Furniture offered home decor to spice up guests’ home holiday atmospheres. The Beaded Oyster Company offered beautiful jewlery for the eclectic types, including handmade (and found!) oyster shell earrings and blue and white china-style necklaces and bracelets. This serves to name only a few of the amazing vendors guests were able to shop with.


During the shopping, guests could attend a book signing for Paula’s “Southern Baking”. The books quickly sold out, but the line to Paula in front of the replica of the Venetian Palace’s fireplace remained full. Several guests were able to pick up memorable Christmas gifts, and enjoy a chance to take pictures and talk with Paula. Paula enjoyed the banter with her fans, so much that she tells The Chronicle, “This experience humbled me. It really did. I did not expect to see so many people that just want to talk with me.”


The night was capped off in the most entertaining fashion, with an hour of discussion with Paula by all guests in attendance, with her producer, Eddie, by her side. Paula told the crowd of fans stories of her past Christmases, and explained what Christmas looks like as time moves on. She, admittedly, uses her Air Fryer a lot these days. She cannot express her love for her children enough. She smiles at every opportunity to crack a joke, including the chance to name her chicken pen, which she named “Paula’s Peckers”. Paula ended the night by saying, “I believe that God loves to see us laugh, and God loves to see us smile.” Smiling and laughing were two things that each guest in attendance did an abundance of at The Brice House on Saturday.


This event was made possible by Allsion Martin. She made this her dream, and worked extensively over the past year to make this event as successful, enchanting, and enjoyable as it was. Despite Paula’s love to linger to talk to each person in attendance intimately, the agenda of the day went on without a hitch. Allison chose JimCo Cares to sponsor the event. JimCo Cares is a nonprofit built to build other nonprofits. Other than events like Christmas with Paula, JimCo Cares assists with little league baseball teams, mission trips for employees, and larger organizations such as The Ronald McDonald House.

Christmas with Paula was an event for the ages. Each attendee was blown away with the precise, in-depth planning and execution of the event, and, of course, the great Paula Deen.



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