Pair of elves deck the halls with nine trees at Houser Terrace

Sheri Alton, left, and Brenda Elliott spent weeks decorating the lobby at Houser Terrace.  - Brian Beckley, Renton Reporter
Sheri Alton, left, and Brenda Elliott spent weeks decorating the lobby at Houser Terrace.
— image credit: Brian Beckley, Renton Reporter

Brenda Elliot believes that just because she lives in affordable housing doesn't mean they can't get all the beauty and fun of a beautiful Christmas display.

So Elliot and her partner-in-crime Sheri Alton have spent the past several weeks decorating the Houser Terrace apartments' common areas with nine different Christmas trees, Christmas villages and an impressive nutcracker collection.

"It's just something I enjoy," she said Friday, gesturing to her fellow residents. "I do it for them."

Elliot said she has decorated the past two years, picking up where she left off from home when she moved into the complex. Alton said she has been decorating for about eight years.Up from six trees this year, each tree in the lobby and dining room is themed, from the "country tree" with teddy bears to the "winter wonderland," decked out in cool blues and silvers.Bringing all 100 residents together though is the "family tree," which contains an ornament with each tenant's name on it.

But Elliott's favorite is her "angel tree," which contains many of her personal ornaments, some of which are more than 30 years old.

"I've had them for many, many years," she said. "To me it's still a holy holiday."

The ladies began decorating the day after Thanksgiving and this week, it all paid off as the lobby looked like an explosion of holly jolly excitement.

"They want us to downsize, but you know what?" Alton asked. "The residents look forward to it."

There are also a collection of Christmas-themed clocks that all play holiday songs on the hour. Elliott said all of the clocks have been set for slightly different times so they play their songs one-after-the-other instead of all at once.

Next year, the ladies actually plan an even larger display and said they check thrift stores and garage sales all year long for new decorations. This year, they picked up a beautiful, sparkly sleigh that is displayed right in the building's foyer.The only problem is where to store all of the decorations through the off-season.

All of the Christmas decorations take up storage lockers both at the facility and off site.

"We're just overflowing," Elliott said.Fellow resident Charlotte Tibbles said she loves seeing the decorations and wishes she had "one-tenth" of the creativity of Elliot and Alton.

"I think it's absolutely and utterly fantastic," Tibbles said. "It reaches out and grabs you."

Tibbles said she has trouble some years getting into the Christmas spirit, but this year, all of the decorations put her right in the mood.

Renton Housing Authority Operations Administrator Jill Richardson, who oversees all of the Housing Authority's buildings, said it was great when resident get in the spirit.

"We love the idea that residents are involved and energized to decorate their place," she said.

Elliott and Alton said they decorate for every season, but none quite at the level of Christmas.

"Just because we live in (affordable) senior housing doesn't mean we can't have nice things," Elliott said.



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