Tired of unappetizing potluck dishes, Judith and Steve Everett started asking guests to instead bring Santa figures to their annual Christmas party.
The couple in the past three decades have amassed more than 1,800 Santas. Most of them are on display this holiday season at the Healdsburg Museum.
The exhibit, “A Season for Santas,” runs until Jan. 6.
“People enjoy them so much,” said Judith Everett, 70. “It wouldn’t be much fun for us to sit here and stare at them by ourselves.”
The Everetts started their collection in 1987. They had just moved to San Francisco from Livermore when they hosted a Christmas party for Steve Everett’s law firm and requested for the first time the jolly figures. Their invitations read, “If you want to bring something to the party, please bring a Santa.”
After Steve Everett, 68, retired from the firm and the couple moved to Healdsburg in 2009, they continued the tradition.
Their annual parties draw 100 to 120 guests each year, so the Santa collection has steadily grown.
Looking forward to the annual festivity, guests have picked up figures of Old Saint Nick while on vacation abroad. They’ve brought Santas from Hawaii, as well as France, Russia and other countries.
The Everetts’ collection includes Irish and gypsy Santas, as well as Kris Kringle-shaped salt and pepper shakers, olive oil containers, mugs, cookie jars and cookie stamps.
They’ve received bar-themed Santas and some made from tissue paper. One battery-operated Santa ice skates while playing War’s “Low Rider” song.
They also have Christopher Radko mercury glass ornaments and a 4-foot Homer Simpson Santa, Judith Everett said. It was a gift from the one of the creators of Fox’s long-running TV series “The Simpsons.”
However, their favorite figures are of Mr. and Mrs. Claus riding twin Harleys. The battery-operated dolls were gifts from longtime friend Sheila Buhr.
“These two are just so funny. They are interactive and everyone laughs and smiles when they see them,” said Judith Everett, who worked for 24 years as a fleet manager for Codiroli Motors in Livermore.
She divides the figures into display categories and stores them in the basement in labeled tubs after the holidays.
However, she and her husband want the public to enjoy the Santas before they put them away.
The Santas are displayed on the second floor of the Healdsburg Museum. Plush Santas and those that cannot break also can be found in the children’s area of the museum.
The Everetts said an Alexander Valley school has scheduled a field trip for its students to the exhibit. The local Kiwanis Club also plans to bring to the museum memory-care patients from a senior living facility, providing a bit of nostalgia.
In addition to the Santas, Wayne Padd’s model train village also is on display at the museum. It also has a Christmas-themed scale model of the Healdsburg Plaza, circa 1900.
Located at 221 Matheson St., the museum is open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For more information, visit healdsburgmuseum.org.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been revised to accurately characterize the availability of 4-foot Homer Simpson figurines, which are readily obtainable.