Creative project decks the halls of many

Dec. 20, 2013 @ 12:54 AM

GASTONIA — Give Gail Little a tree and some time, and she can make holiday magic. Little is one half of a duo that's been dubbed The Little Women. She and her cousin (through marriage), Doris Little, have gained a reputation for knowing their way around a Christmas tree.

That reputation spawned what the women call a creative project. The two women have been busy for a month decorating homes and business in and around Lincoln County. Though a relatively new local venture, Gail Little has a lot of experience decking the halls.

Professional decorator: She is known locally as a painter with a studio in Lincolnton. But her experience as a visual artist goes further. In the late '80s and early '90s, Little was a professional decorator. She's done interior decorating and traveled across the U.S. with a team of professional holiday designers.

Some of those ventures applied some real pressure, she said. Little remembers taking on a job in Toronto by herself. As she looked out over the endless sea of boxes, she worried about getting finished by the deadline. "The panic sets in to get it all done," she said.

She said she got the task done and moved on to the next.

Holiday cheer: This year, the Littles decided to put their skills to use for the holidays. Gail Little took the role of decorator, and her cousin as the organizer. The women helped create table decorations for a local church and a couple of topiaries and two trees at The Laboratory Mill, an event venue in Lincoln County.

Little likes to have about a week for an overall holiday makeover. She sets everything up for the customer, and the client usually takes down the decor after the event or holiday. Little said she's thrilled to help people who may not have the time or decorative eye to pull together the look they want.

But all of the decorating hasn't quenched her holiday spirit, Gail Little said. "It gets you in the spirit," she said.

Theme trees: Little said she tailors tree motifs to her client's taste. She'll decorate real or artificial trees. She'll buy ornaments and supplies from a shopping list or take the client to the store with her. That philosophy has been an adventure, Little said.

She's decorated elf trees, snowman trees, sunflower trees and seasonal trees. As a personal project, Little once tackled a dying dogwood tree — adding decorations to the tree that stood outside. "That was one of the most fun things I've ever done," she said.

Little left the decorations up for months in honor of her father, who was ill.

Affordable adventurez: When Little takes a decorating job, she uses few of her own materials. She likes to leave the customer with supplies for future holidays or events. But buying all new decorations doesn't have to be expensive. Little says the dollar store is her friend.

She may buy a few high-dollar ornaments, but most are reasonably priced and have her own personal touch. Great things can come from a glue gun, glitter and ribbon, she said. "You can put anything on a tree. They don't have to be expensive," she said. "We try to make it unique and different."

Little has sold watercolor paintings, decorated rooms for photo shoots and adorned banquet halls for events. Each is a different medium, but her job is the same, she said. "That's what I love to do — make stuff look good," she said.