Santa arrived early at the Regions branch in Highlands, North Carolina.
And not just one, but four Santas.
The figurines, handmade by branch associates, took their places among the branch decorations Dec. 1.
The crafts are the result of a seasonal challenge that branch manager Jessica Farrell said has proven engaging with customers in the mountain town that includes The Bascom, a center for the visual arts, and a large community of artists.
“For the last two years, we’ve done a team challenge to create a seasonal piece: pumpkins in the fall and something ‘winter/holiday-themed’ in December,” Farrell said. “This year, it was creating your version of Santa from items you already have at home.
“The challenge changes year to year, and we bring our customers in on the fun, asking them to view and vote on their favorites. Our customers love doing this and are always asking us when we’re starting the next challenge.”
For the latest challenge, Regions customers cast their votes Dec. 1 to Dec. 8.
Our customers love doing this and are always asking us when we’re starting the next challenge. Jessica Farrell, Regions branch manager in Highlands, North Carolina
Farrell announced the winner Dec. 11. After the display of the ribbon for a week so customers knew who won, the associate artist got to wear the prize ribbon.
With each challenge, the decorations are placed right by the entrance. Each entry is assigned a number and a dish is placed beside the crafts with slips of paper to count as votes the customers place in a jar. Customers only learn who made each piece after the contest is over. More than 150 votes are typically cast for every challenge.
First prize this time around was a charcuterie board and wooden trivets from the same Main Street shops featured in a Regions Good Towns profile on Highlands.
The winner, Relationship Banker Cathy Hodgson, made her Santa and Mrs. Claus from old books. A veteran crafter from 23 years as a first-grade teacher, Hodgson is loving the opportunity to create again at Regions, where she kicked off her second career eight months ago.
“The old book idea just fit – I love books – and called my entry ‘Old Book Santa and Mrs. Claus,” Hodgson said. “Finding the right size books was a challenge. I needed a pointed hat for Santa – so a taller and thinner book, and a bonnet type hat for Mrs. Claus – so a thicker and smaller book. I enjoyed all the page folding, cutting out paper fringe and making paper eyelet, but most of all I enjoyed creating their faces.
These decorations are so unique and thoughtfully made and, just like our Black Bear Christmas tree, really speaks to this area and what the Highlands is all about.Cathy Hodgson, Regions relationship banker
“Our customers and visitors love all types of art and visit The Bascom for art shows, classes and events,” she added. “Many of them are artists. They always look forward to the craft challenges that we do and ask about them before we even put them on display. They add a local and personal touch to our decorations.”
Farrell said she and the branch’s customers can’t wait to see what associates will make next December.
“My team did a wonderful job with the Santas, and I’m so proud of them and the heart they put into everything they do and the care they give our customers,” she said. “These decorations are so unique and thoughtfully made and, just like our Black Bear Christmas tree, really speaks to this area and what the Highlands is all about.”
In addition to the Highlands Santas, visitors to other Regions branches saw a Regions house, green bikes, a hidden piggy, and more.
See Regions’ Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook posts for more examples of how branches got in the holiday spirit.