My Christmas Vacation at the White House

While you were making sure all your Christmas lights still worked, one woman was stringing decorations for the Obama's

A Bay Area florist is back at work in San Anselmo with quite a Christmas story to tell.

Samantha Payne spent the past week decorating the White House.  Yes, that White House.

"It was spectacular!" Payne said.

She got the gig through connections she made during a five-year stint working in Hollywood

So while you were filling out Christmas cards and fighting the crowds at the mall, she reported for duty on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Payne was one of about 50 volunteers who helped the official Obama design team turn every room in the place into a winter wonderland.

This year's White House theme was renew, reinvent and reuse which fit just right with Payne, who works at the green-friendly shop Local Flora in Marin County.

She is a professional, but said she worked alongside armchair decorators -- some of whom spent years on a waiting list in order to get the chance to play house for the most famous family in America.

Payne's work went on display early.  She was on the bow team and found her wreath on the front gates the first couple days into the project. She's also responsible for the garland in the Oval Office. 

The rooms where she spent most of her time were the Red Room and the magnificent Blue Room on the State Floor. The tree in the Blue Room was so enormous she had to climb scaffolding in order to hang the ornaments.

Payne said the days were long and the marble floor was hard, but the trip was more than worth the loss of vacation time and frequent flier miles.

She has a priceless number of memories of her long days at White house, as well as a presumably awesome portfolio. The Obamas thanked the group for their work with a Tuesday night party and all the snap shots they could take of their work.

 Lori Preuitt's Christmas decorations consist of a table decorated by her niece and a few ornaments hung over the fireplace.

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