Ignoring the holiday season's unwritten mandate to "shop till you drop," party-goers attending the Holly Ball on behalf of the Children's Home Society on Saturday night took the charitable way out.
They Christmas-shopped by bidding on silent- and live-auction items.
Christine Giwoff and Verda Uehle co-chaired the event at the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach. The annual affair netted $56,000 for the society's Nightingale Auxiliary.
Host John Brecht introduced honorary chairwoman Harriet Nelson to the crowd, saying, "you look so much better in person than you ever did on black-and-white TV."
Auxiliary president Gail Starr presented roses to the co-chairmen.
Also taking a bow was Dorothy Fitzgerald, director of volunteers for Children's Home Society.
Dessert was barely finished when auctioneer Dennis Ash stimulated the holiday-spirited bidding. Only a few items, namely a Mercedes-Benz and two baby grand pianos, failed to attract minimum bids.
Successful bidders for top prizes included Tracy Nelson (granddaughter of Harriet), winner of a trip to London on TWA; Gail Farrell, winner of a three-carat diamond cocktail ring donated by Kirk's Jewelers, and Frank Marrone, winner of a full-length mink coat donated by furrier M. Jacques.
Ash, associated with auctioneers Milton J. Wershow Co., sold a "self-indulgence" package to bidder Pat Laureno. The package included catered food for two to eight people on a flight anywhere within a 500-mile radius of the Orange County airport on the company's private jet.
Sandy Cuzmano, assistant to Fitzgerald, spoke of the society's recent Christmas party for 350 children involved in the society's subsidized child-care program.
"It's our biggest party for the children all year," Cuzmano said. "All of the auxiliary volunteers are involved and each gives a wrapped Christmas gift to a child. Some of them have never had a present before. This is what we all get excited about."
Programs in the 95-year-old, nonprofit children's social service agency include adoption, expectant-parent counseling, foster care, child care, public education and child advocacy.