TwitterFacebookPinterestGoogle+

A Christmas Story: Lifelong Friends Take a Creative Approach to Gift Giving

ORLANDO, Fla. – For many of us, the holidays are a time of stress. Part of that stress is finding the perfect gift, especially for those that have everything. One group of Central Florida friends, however, has found a way to avoid the stress of gift giving. They have turned their gift exchange into a interactive themed scavenger hunt of sorts. As this story unfolds, think about four friends, a few cocktails, a shopping adventure, loads of laughs. but also imagine being in view of this timed adventure as a casual observer. I’m sure fellow shoppers questioned if they were observing the beginning of a flash mob or were on candid camera.

Recently, while in casual conversation with the organizer, West Orange County resident Michele DeBoer Nunnelley, I uncovered how keenly creative she was in finding the perfect gift exchange process for her group of friends. Moreover, I learned that it had to be the genuine love of these friends that drove them to ensure they participated in such a wonderful evening. In a world of “too busy for this or that,” we don’t see this everyday.

Nunnelley was in search of the perfect solution to Christmas gifting with her friends Joanne Zappala, Catherine Cobb and Trish Schultz, friends of 40+ years, so she decided to create an evening experience that included a scavenger hunt-style discount shopping adventure culminating in a dinner, but not your traditional scavenger hunt. No, this was something very near and dear to the hearts of many. They were going shopping, but not shopping in a traditional approach. They were shopping for bargains.

The four friends outside of the Orlando Eye (left to right: Catherine Cobb, Joanne Zappala, Michele Nunnelley, Trish Schultz)

The four friends outside of the Orlando Eye (left to right: Catherine Cobb, Joanne Zappala, Michele Nunnelley, Trish Schultz)

 

Event organizer Michele Nunnelley

“What’s most important to me in life is how you make someone feel. I always want my friends to feel special,” explained Nunnelley. “I am happiest when I do for others. So turning the evening into a experience filled with love and laughter was extremely important.”

THEMED ROOMS: Nunnelley began by preparing her Windermere, Florida, home for the arrival of her three lifelong friends. In each room the friends would be staying in while visiting, she identified a theme and process to let the friend know the room had her mark on it.

For example, one friend has the last name Schultz and is a fan of the Charlie Brown series, so under the tree in her room she placed a Charlie Brown-themed nativity set inspired by the creator Charles Schultz. I mean, who would ever think to theme rooms to your guests? Apparently Nunnelley, who works in the real estate and construction industry, thought of everything. Most of us will be lucky to have all our gifts purchased and wrapped by Christmas, but clearly Nunnelley takes planning the perfect Christmas experience seriously.

Nunnelley also pulled and posted photographs of their adventures over the years so the friends could reminisce. Even the decorations on the tree have a specific meaning.

The ladies were huge roller skaters in high school. So, of course, Nunnelley had a tree with roller skate decorations.

THE ENVELOPE PLEASE: Nunnelley decided to place $50 dollars cash in each friend’s Christmas envelope that would be used in their gift buying adventure.

Their first stop: Dillard’s Outlet Store at West Oaks Mall. The goal, with a 45-minute window, was to purchase the most valuable item in the store for no more than $30. Whomever is successful then receives a candy cane. The person with the most candy canes at the end of the evening wins the opportunity to burst a chocolate piñata at dinner. The winner of the first adventure was Trish Schultz, purchasing a $100 pair of tennis shoes for a mere $15.00 (below).

 

Trish Schultz

“The best gift I’ve ever received is the lifelong friendships I have with these girls,” said Trish Schultz. “Good friends are the family you actually like to spend time with during the holidays.”

With the clock ticking, their next stop was to a discount outlet located near Hiawassee Road and Colonial Drive called Ollie’s. The store is known for having extremely high-discounted merchandise. In this part of the adventure, the group had $20 to purchase a gift for a friend through a random drawing. Again, whomever purchased the product with the most value at the biggest discount would win another candy cane. The winners of this adventure were Cobb and Schultz, as they both managed to stay under the $20 threshold.

Catherine Cobb

“You know the feeling you get when you can just be yourself? I love these ladies for making my life so much better because I can be me…unapologetically,” Cat Cobb said. “We care about each other so much and we think of things to help each other.”

 

The four friends enjoy a wrap-up dinner together. (l-r) Trish Schultz, Michele Nunnelley, Catherine Cobb and Joanne Zappala

The four friends enjoy a wrap-up dinner together. (l-r, clockwise) Trish Schultz, Michele Nunnelley, Catherine Cobb and Joanne Zappala

The reason I wanted to share this story is simple. In a complex world of political division and various stresses that surround relationships and the holidays, these ladies found a way to put that all aside in the desire to be with each other surrounded by their memories and love for each other. Rarely do we see friendships last this long and certainly rarely do we see such creativity to celebrate their history. Oh, sure, many of us would be like, “I would never go to such lengths.”

But think about it. What if you did? What if the next year someone isn’t seated at the table? What if life throws you a curveball you didn’t expect? We are reminded every day how short life truly is. Let their celebration be a motivator for you to plan your own special memory with friends. One that puts your stamp on the love you share with those close to you. You can’t put a price on that. Then again, why would you?

Merry Christmas everyone! 2019 is just around the corner. It’s YOUR turn to plan YOUR adventure! Success is all in the details.

________________________________________________________

Randy Ross is a political contributor for Florida National News. | social@floridanationalnews.com

2 comments

  1. Trish Schultz Reply

    Thank you Randy so much l for sharing Our FUN Holiday adventure that Michele created for her Friends… I’m so blessed to have her and all the girls in my life. The sad note is that we were missing 1 Dear Friend, Donna Connell Burkey, in our Group who was with her family! She was misssed!!!

  2. Judian Guimbellot Reply

    Hi Randy,
    Enjoyed your writeup about Michele and friend, you caught the essence of friendship. Thanki you for sharing her Christmas with friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

VIDEO NEWS

National Politics

Putin: NKorea’s Kim ready to denuclearize _ with conditions

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un…

Ex-Vice President Biden launches 2020 presidential campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Vice President Joe Biden formally joined the crowded Democratic presidential contest…

Putin, Kim to meet in Russia’s Far East on Thursday

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong…

As Sri Lanka mourns, Islamic State claims Easter bombings

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — As the death toll from the Easter bombings in Sri…

STATE & LOCAL POLITICS

Governor Ron DeSantis Signs Death Warrant For Tampa Serial Killer Robert "Bobby" Joe Long

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Florida's 46th Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a death warrant…

Florida Supreme Court Affirms Governor’s Authority to Suspend Scott Israel

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Today, the Florida Supreme Court issued an opinion affirming Governor Ron DeSantis’…

Governor Ron DeSantis to Speak at Press Conference in Key Biscayne with the Miami Super Bowl Host Committee Monday

MIAMI, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Governor Ron DeSantis will hold a press conference with the Miami…

[OPINION]: Central Florida’s Regressive Prosecutor

In 2016, Central Florida elected Aramis Ayala as Florida’s first African-American State Attorney. Given her…

FNN SPORTS

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers players and staff, Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, along with tech leader Jabil, United Way Suncoast and Mayor Bob Buckhorn completed the renovation of Grant Park Community Center during the Bucs' Day of Service in 2018. Photo: Tampa Bay Business Journal.
    NEW YORK (FNN SPORTS) - NFL Rallying Fans to Give 100 Million Minutes of Service to Commemorate the 100th Season (Photo: Tampa Bay Business Journal)

MORE SPORTS NEWS

Attorneys for Patriots owner set to challenge sex video

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s high-profile attorneys normally…

Orlando City Earns Late 1-0 Victory Over Vancouver

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Source: Orlando City SC // Orlando City SC (3-3-2, 11…

Governor Ron DeSantis, Former NBA Star Tracy McGrady Sit Courtside for Game 3 of Orlando Magic Playoffs

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) - Florida's 46th Governor Ron DeSantis (R),  First Lady Casey DeSantis…

Jaguars Unveil New Logo To Celebrate Team's Historic 25th Season

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Today the Jacksonville Jaguars kicked off a yearlong celebration of the…

MATCH RECAP: Pride Shutout by North Carolina Courage

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando Pride (0-2-0, 0 points) fell to the defending National Women’s Soccer League…

Tampa Bay Buccaneers announce 2019 regular season schedule

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2019 regular season schedule, released today by the…

BUSINESS NEWS

MORE BUSINESS NEWS

Shark Tank Star Daymond John, DWTS's Lindsay Arnold, Joey Fatone to Host Runway to Hope 2019 Gala

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Runway to Hope co-founder Attorney Mark NeJame announced on Facebook Wednesday…

Bank of America Raising Hourly Minimum Wage to $20

NEW YORK (AP) — Bank of America plans to raise its starting pay to $20…

Pinterest sets sites on $1.5B in first public share offering

NEW YORK (AP) — Pinterest, among a gaggle of tech companies planning to go public…

Gone in 6 minutes: an Ethiopian Airlines jet’s final journey

From nearly the moment they roared down the runway and took off in their new…

Linda McMahon to exit role at Small Business Administration

PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The head of the Small Business Administration, Linda McMahon, is…

Facebook charged with housing discrimination by HUD

NEW YORK (AP) — The federal government charged Facebook with high-tech housing discrimination Thursday for allegedly…

ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

  • Jay-Z (Photo: Hello! Magazine)
    NEW YORK (AP) - Jay-Z to Perform at Newly Renovated Webster Hall in NYC (Photo: Hello! Magazine)

MORE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

Brothers sue Jussie Smollett’s lawyers, claiming defamation

CHICAGO (AP) — Two brothers who say they helped Jussie Smollett stage a racist and…

Funk Fest Orlando Brings Erykah Badu, Ginuwine, Bobby Brown and More This Weekend

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Funk Fest, the ultimate Old School R&B/Hip Hop outdoor music…

Florida Film Festival announced the 2019 Grand Jury and Audience Award Winners

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - After 10 days and over 180 films, the 2019 Florida Film…

Shark Tank Star Daymond John, DWTS's Lindsay Arnold, Joey Fatone to Host Runway to Hope 2019 Gala

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Runway to Hope co-founder Attorney Mark NeJame announced on Facebook Wednesday…

Aretha Franklin makes history with posthumous Pulitzer win

NEW YORK (AP) — Aretha Franklin is still getting R-E-S-P-E-C-T after death: The Queen of…

Trivago Hotel Website Actor Arrested in Texas on DWI Charge

HOUSTON (AP) - The actor who has become something of a sex symbol as the…

LIFESTYLE, TRAVEL & TOURISM

  • TRAVEL AND TOURISM | MIAMI (FNN NEWS) - A World of Adventure Awaits: Royal Caribbean Brings Together Bold Itineraries and Unrivaled Innovations for 2019-2020 Season. Credit: Royal Caribbean International

MORE LIFESTYLE NEWS

Shark Tank Star Daymond John, DWTS's Lindsay Arnold, Joey Fatone to Host Runway to Hope 2019 Gala

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Runway to Hope co-founder Attorney Mark NeJame announced on Facebook Wednesday…

Trivago Hotel Website Actor Arrested in Texas on DWI Charge

HOUSTON (AP) - The actor who has become something of a sex symbol as the…

"Unplanned" Movie Comes to Orlando, Inspired by Conservative Activist Korrie Lupino Stevenson

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - On Wednesday, March 27th, Unplanned the movie will be viewed…

Garden Rocks Concert Series Expands to Every Day of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, March 6-June 3

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Garden Rocks Concert Series is back – every single day…

SPECIAL REPORT: Non-Compliance with State Law Plagues Orange County Soil & Water Board

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) - Florida currently has 58 Soil & Water Conservation Districts which were…

Chairman Daisy Morales Announces New Website for Orange Soil and Water Conservation District

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – After four years of ongoing board meetings and delays to…