Wreaths rustled and a few ornamental bulbs crashed to the floor as 24 students at the Buist Academy for Advanced Studies frantically tied color-coordinated decorations to holiday wreaths while listening to "Jingle Bells."
In about 30 minutes, Rebecca DeTreville's fifth-grade art class had decorated six wreaths to be auctioned at the fifth annual Festival of Wreaths, a cocktail party at Charleston Place hotel 6-9 p.m. today downtown.
Jeff Webster, Charleston Place hotel public relations manager, said that the Buist Academy students' wreaths made with the help of designers didn't look much different from the 16 designer wreaths already hanging at The Shops at Charleston Place last week.
"I guess there's only so much you can do with a wreath," Webster said.
With the addition of six wreaths from students at Buist -- temporarily housed in the former Wando High School on Whipple Road in Mount Pleasant -- Charleston Place will offer 22 wreaths in silent bidding as part of a fundraiser to benefit the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital.
Webster said he could see the sparkle in students' eyes as he explained that the wreaths they were making could help young patients.
Students had about 30 minutes to decorate wreaths in a shortened class period Dec. 1, but they came up with a theme in a previous art class, DeTreville said. Students made a paper banner with the words "It's better to give than to receive" written in glitter for each wreath.
Event planners expect about 200 people to crowd into Charleston Place's Palmetto Cafe for the cocktail party and silent auction.
Tickets are $20 the day of the event. Minimum bids for the holiday wreaths start at $30, but many go for hundreds of dollars, Webster said.
Wanda Bazemore, MUSC Children's Hospital director of major events and associate director of development, said the hospital relies heavily on donations to treat about 100,000 patients each year. Many of the children's families do not have the financial means to pay for necessary treatment, she said. Donations also help the hospital recruit top physicians, implement new programs and add to the Child Life Atrium area, where patients play.
"Events like the Festival of Wreaths are very important to us," Bazemore said.
Though the cocktail party is for adults, Webster said he always tries to involve children in some way. This year, Buist Academy students made wreaths and three Children's Hospital patients helped design the 2010 Festival of Wreaths flier.
ForUs Enterprises designer Karen Johnson of Charleston, who donated a wreath for the festival, said she enjoys the community event and helping students make their own creations.
"I can only make so many for myself," she said.
Reach Jessica Miller at 937-5921.