Decking Our Halls Is A Year-Round Process
Written By Jean Sexton
For the Home
From miles of garlands and hundreds of wreaths to thousands of lights and decorations on more than 50 trees inside America’s Largest Home®, our annual Christmas at Biltmore celebration is guaranteed to put you in a festive holiday mood!
But where does it all come from each year? How and when does it start? We asked members of Biltmore’s Floral team to give us a behind-the-scenes look at creating such a spectacular holiday happening.
A design storyboard featuring sample ornaments, ribbon, and photos for inspiration
A year of planning
“All the Christmas decorations you see this year began to take shape more than 12 months ago,” said Lizzie Borchers, Floral Displays Manager. “Our team spends several early December mornings walking through Biltmore House before guests arrived. We evaluate what’s great and what we might do again in another room,” Lizzie said. “We already know the following year’s theme, and our designers are eager to choose the rooms they want. Sometimes it’s like a bidding war—they have to sell me on their ideas.”
The selection process
Rooms are decorated according to an annual theme that changes each year, and the Floral team also takes cues from style elements of the room such as the predominant colors, art and furnishings, or the way in which the room was used.
The Library, for example, might feature books among its decorations while the Main Kitchen could include wreaths of dried bay leaves or other culinary ingredients.
Creating the designs, selecting the decorations, and deciding whether fresh plants or other ancillary materials should be included takes months of careful planning and review by the lead designer for each room, with input and assistance from the entire team.
Design sheets and ornaments for inspiration
As they decide on specific rooms for which they’d like to take responsibility during the December walk-through, team members choose some ornaments as they go; others are chosen from Biltmore’s warehouse a few months later.
Some ornaments are new, purchased at the Atlanta Gift Mart each March. Each designer then develops a kind of storyboard featuring a sample basket of ornaments and detailed design sheets to show Lizzie the look and feel of their plans. The designs are tweaked and approved as early as possible so the team can begin locating or creating any additional pieces needed to complete the scene.
Meanwhile, the Christmas trees are stored upright in Floral’s warehouse (sometimes called the tree farm) in spots reserved specifically for them. By early summer, team members have gone over all the tree lights to make sure they are in good condition and they’ve placed orders for plants such as fresh poinsettias to arrive at the proper time. For the next few months, the remaining decorations needed for each area are created.
Grand Staircase Christmas tree in Biltmore House
Putting it all together
During the entire month of October, our Floral Displays team is busy decking the halls and rooms of Biltmore House. Guests enjoy watching Christmas at Biltmore come to life and tell us it often inspires ideas for their own homes.
Featured image: a vintage children’s book inspires Christmas decorations at Biltmore