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    Home(s) for the Holidays

    By By Maria King
    December 27, 2013, 7:36:39 AM EST

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    Christmas decorating has always been a favorite holiday activity for me. I really enjoy the transformation that takes place when my home is wrapped in the warmth of the Christmas spirit. It’s a labor of love for me and a long standing comfort level for my children. The reason I know this is because a few years ago I was thinking of moving where I place my Christmas tree; my children revolted. Until then, I was always under the impression that I could put the tree on the roof and they would never even notice! I didn’t realize that these traditions were so important to their enjoyment of the holidays as well. I shouldn’t be surprised because I think most people have precious memories of Christmastime when they were children; myself included.

    I have very wonderful memories of the holidays from my childhood. One of my favorites was when I came home from school to find the entire house decorated for Christmas. I guess that’s why I still find it to be such an important part of the holiday excitement. So while researching this weeks events, I thought why not invite you to visit houses all decked out for Christmas. Cough, not mine however! (not that I wouldn’t love to invite you all over but I am way behind my Christmas preparations this year). Since my house is out, I remembered that there are 100’s of mansions, estates and museum homes that are decorated for the season in a most beautiful fashion. These “mansions and museums” feature beautiful properties all dressed up and looking great. Some have fancy lighting, while others have period decorations recreated and others have decorations that are the same ones used in the days the home was occupied. But whatever the case, it’s a perfect family outing. And although this can be classified as a “teachable” moment, I so dislike that phrase. I think if you expose anyone, yourself included, to as many experiences as possible, they are all “teachable” moments. Just not the dramatic “kill the moment” for the kids moment.

    So for this week, search historic sites, state parks and local estates to see if they are hosting tours for guests this season. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that many of them host visitors each and every year. I try to get to a few and once I get over my jealousy at the magnificent beauty of these places, I soak in the holiday spirit. I hope that you will get that same feeling when you visit.


    A Longwood Gardens Christmas - Organ Concerts Nov 28, 2013 - Jan 12, 2014 Longwood Gardens Kennett Square, PA 19348

    Since 1962, see over 4,000 poinsettia plants in a variety of colors, plus other crops include amaryllis, begonias, calla lilies, blue coleuses, Christmas cactus, cyclamens, blue irises, Jerusalem cherries, narcissi, primroses, stevias and red tulips. Outdoors, the gardens are a twinkling wonderland with over 400,000 lights covering both evergreen and deciduous trees as well as wire frames. Theatre fountain displays are set to holiday music. The final element for holiday cheer is music, which has grown from one organ concert to about 150 organ and choral concerts. 200,000 Attendees

    Christmas at Biltmore Estate Nov 09, 2013 - Jan 04, 2014 Biltmore Estate Asheville, NC 28801

    George Vanderbilt introduced his new home to family and friends on Christmas Eve 1895 with a celebration that we continue to this day. Put Christmas at Biltmore on your calendar this season, and enjoy the spectacle of America’s largest home decorated with dozens of trees, thousands of ornaments, and miles of brightly lit evergreen garland. Events continue as afternoon fades into dusk, the fires are stoked into warm blazes. The center of hospitality and warmth in George Vanderbilt’s day, firelight adds to the charm and romance of Candlelight Christmas Evenings. Candlelight and firelight accent dozens of trees within Biltmore House. Crystal and blown glass ornaments twinkle as elegant mantle dressings of holly, juniper, and pine release their fragrance. Centuries old tapestries and other treasures from Vanderbilt’s world travels reveal new details and beauty in the soft light. Musicians fill the halls with holiday spirit, while the Banquet Hall’s 1916 pipe organ adds its mellow harmony.

    Christmas At Hagley Nov 29, 2013 - Jan 05, 2014 Hagley Museum and Library Wilmington, DE 19807

    Visit the Eleutherian Mills residence and you’ll find holiday decorations reflecting the furnishings and style that Louise du Pont Crowninshield used in her home as she occupied it from 1925-1958. Holly, pine roping with ribbons, poinsettias, and the liberal use of dried plant materials mostly grown here at Hagley, as well as fruit are all used for decorations. Christmas trees, wreaths, holiday music, decorative mantelpieces, as well as many other decorations, will fill the home, giving it a warm and inviting holiday atmosphere. Included with regular museum admission.

    Boone Hall Plantation Christmas Dec 01, 2013 - Jan 01, 2014 Boone Hall Plantation Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

    The Plantation Mansion and grounds are decorated with much of what the holidays are all about. But there’s something special about this plantation home’s holiday attire. Yes…there’s plenty of beautiful Christmas trees in every room of the plantation’s main floor…adorned in every size and shape of Christmas ornaments and decorations. But if you look closely, you will see some things that are very unique about the decorations that are distributed all around. For example, there’s a variety of very creative ornaments on one tree that is made with local sweetgrass…on another tree there’s decorations made with cotton and berries grown right on the plantation. There are wreaths made from magnolia tree leaves also grown on these historical grounds. The front entrance is decorated with arrangements that are filled with live fruit in them….There’s no plastic decorations on this plantation…and of course, all the trees are live, and the fresh smells generated by them, fill the entire house. It’s holiday decorating at its finest…an annual affair at Boone Hall.

    Leu's Holiday House Nov 17, 2013 - Jan 05, 2014 Harry P. Leu Gardens Orlando, FL 32803

    See incredible holiday decorations throughout the Leu House Museum at beautiful Harry P. Leu Gardens. Each room in the historic estate will be adorned with holiday trimmings that will inspire and delight all ages. Thirty minute tours of the museum are given on the hour and half-hour starting at 10:00 am with the last tour of each day at 3:30 pm every day, closed December 25. 3,000 Attendees

    Centuries of Christmas at Berkeley Plantation Dec 07, 2013 - Jan 01, 2014 Berkeley Plantation Charles City, VA 23030

    This elegant 1726 mansion will be decorated with fresh holiday greens from the plantation gardens while costumed guides will give visitors a tour of the estate and tell stories of Christmas at Berkeley through four centuries of history.

    Christmas at Mount Vernon Nov 29, 2013 - Jan 06, 2014 Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens Mount Vernon, VA 22121

    We're joyfully decking the halls for "Christmas at Mount Vernon," a special daytime program offered from Thanksgiving Day weekend through the Twelve Days of Christmas. Exciting additions this year include a dozen themed Christmas trees, a gingerbread Mount Vernon by former White House pastry chef Ronald Mesnier, historical chocolate- making demonstrations, 18th- century dancing, and a Christmas camel just like George Washington had on the grounds during Christmas 1787! The popular tradition continues on opening the rarely- seen third floor of the Mansion and inviting visitors to meet the charming "Mrs. Washington." Schedules may vary for dancing and "Mrs. Washington." Activities included with regular admission.

    Hayes Train Special Nov 29, 2013 - Jan 05, 2014 Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center at Spiegel Grove Fremont, OH 43420

    The spirit of holidays past is revived in this operating model train display. The 12x24-foot, three-tier layout features eight G-, O-, and Standard-gauge trains. All of the trains are styles that relate to the life of 19th U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes and his family. Visitors act as engineers lifting gates, flashing lights, sounding the whistle, and more, via a series of interactive buttons. A miniature Victorian village provides a picturesque setting through which the trains travel. Funded in part by Memorial Health Care System. 1,500 Attendees

    An Eisenhower Christmas Dec 01, 2013 - Dec 31, 2013 Eisenhower National Historic Site Gettysburg, PA 17325

    Visit the 34th President's home decorated in 1950s fashion for the holidays. Tours depart from the National Park Museum and Visitor Center, 1195 Baltimore Pike. Closed Christmas Day.

    A Brandywine Christmas Nov 29, 2013 - Jan 05, 2014 Brandywine River Museum Chadds Ford, PA 19317

    Enjoy this holiday favorite for all ages!! Discover dozens of rare antique dolls, dressed in beautiful period clothing, some on view in rooms filled with exquisite handcrafted furnishings and miniature paintings by members of the Wyeth family. Experience the popular O-gauge train display, one of the largest in the country, with five trains running simultaneously on nearly 2,000 feet of track through a landscape inspired by southeastern Pennsylvania. • Marvel at thousands of whimsical “critters,” ornaments and decorations handcrafted from natural materials by Conservancy volunteers and displayed on towering trees soaring up through the museum’s three-story rotunda.

    Maymont Mansion Holiday Tours Nov 23, 2013 - Jan 05, 2014 Maymont's Hampton Entrance Richmond, VA 23220

    Celebrate the season at Maymont and revel in Victorian holiday splendor! Major and Mrs. Dooley's spectacularly decorated Gilded Age home brings the wonders and festivities of Christmas past to life. Beautiful trimmings on the 12-foot Christmas tree, the opulent dining room set for a feast, evergreen decorations and lavish gifts welcome the season in grand Victorian style. In the Belowstairs area, preparations are underway to make the Dooleys' first Christmas in their new home special for their family and friends - and to put everyone in the holiday spirit,

    Maria can be reached directly at eventsblog@eventcrazy.com or @eventcrazy on Twitter or visit her website at www.eventcrazy.com

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