Tech grad, Lubbock native led team decorating White House for Christmas

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) – Susan Talkmitt is a Texas Tech graduate, and Lubbock native. She led her team of 21 to decorate the East Room and Green Room in the White House for the holidays during Thanksgiving week.

She says it all started with another Texas Tech graduate who took an interest in her work. The creative manager of the Executive Residence walked in her store The Nest Egg on 40th and Ave. Q last year.

“John Botello, who is the creative manager for the White House, came into the store. He was looking at trees and he started talking to me about the ornaments, and then he said, ‘I decorate the White House,’ Talkmitt said. “Oh, my goodness!”

He asked Susan if she’d want to decorate the White House, then called her in September to see if she was still interested.

She tells KCBD she said yes with joy, excited to lead a team to decorate.

“I was a captain, one of 10,” Talkmitt said. “And had a team, and I decorated. My team decorated the East Room and the Green Room.”

She says this year’s theme was ‘We The People,’ decorated with a team of people from all walks of life.

“You might have some decorators, some florists, but I also had a U.S. Marshall, and I had a hotel manager, and a nurse,” Talkmitt said. “There were lots of different things going on, and there were plenty of jobs.”

Her team was tasked with choosing theme sounds and songs for the Green Room, so they added some Jingle Bell Rock.

“The tree is done in bells, and the windows have wonderful bells hanging on ribbons that we installed, and then the mantles,” Talkmitt said. “So, that was a really fun room.”

Talkmitt studied ornamental horticulture at Texas Tech. She says she couldn’t have brought all that Christmas cheer to the White House without her time as a Red Raider.

“I was a faculty member, but I also was an assistant chair of a center at Tech. We supervised students in internships and then worked with teachers in the summer, so that lined up really well for me,” Talkmitt said.

The only thing Talkmitt regrets is not putting a little Raider Red on the Christmas tree in the White House. She says if given the opportunity, she would go back next year.