A Child’s Joy at Christmas

Written By Jean Sexton

Posted 11/25/13

Updated 11/25/13

For the Home

When asked how she sums up all the months of planning and preparation, all the glittering decorations adorning the trees, all the lights, and all the passion she puts into her work, Simone Bush, Biltmore Floral Designer, has only one word for Christmas at Biltmore: joy!

For Simone and other members of Biltmore’s Floral Design Team, Christmas is much more than a holiday—it’s a masterpiece that requires a year of planning, and it fills America’s largest home with all the glorious wonder of this special season.

Each team member is assigned the decorative design for several rooms in Biltmore House, including one of the grand rooms on the First Floor, plus other rooms or areas in different sections of the house and across the estate. This year, Simone has taken on what some consider the crown jewel of Christmas at Biltmore: the lofty Banquet Hall that traditionally features a 35-foot fresh-cut Fraser Fir as its centerpiece.  The Banquet Hall tree of Biltmore House.

“I wanted to make children from 2 to 92 feel like children as they experience the magic of Christmas in this room,” Simone explained.  To envision the decorative elements needed to bring the Banquet Hall to life, Simone drew on the idea of families coming together at the holidays, and the wonderful ways in which their joy might be expressed.

“I thought of Mr. Vanderbilt, reading stories to his nieces and nephews by the fireplace,” Simone said, “when he first opened Biltmore House on Christmas Eve 1895. Everything was so elegant, and yet there was a sense of warmth and whimsy, too, with a house full of excited children waiting for Santa Claus.”

With the notion of elegant whimsy to guide her, Simone began searching for just the right decorative elements.  She decorated with enormous ribbons in stripes, plaids, and polka dots. A child-sized Victorian sleigh was placed at the base of the tree.

Traditional shades of red, green and cream were used for oversized paper chains and ribbon loops that complement the scale of the Fraser Fir.  And with a nod to that Christmas magic that inspired her, a brightly-colored Harlequin figure is sure to delight everyone who spies him atop the towering tree.

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