Christmas Decorating Tips from the Pros Who Deck the Halls of The Biltmore

The estate’s floral manger shares some secrets to help turn your home into a magical winter wonderland.

Biltmore Christmas
Photo: The Biltmore Company

Christmas at North Carolina’s famed Biltmore Estate is something to behold. There’s the 35-foot tall Frasier fir tree in the banquet hall, boughs of holly, candles and pine cones, gleaming ornaments, flickering lights, and enough glorious baubles to make the estate merry and bright. This year marks the 125th anniversary of the Asheville landmark and, pandemic or not, they are celebrating the season in style. The Biltmore has a few ways to enjoy the holiday magic: a daytime house tour, Christmas at Biltmore Daytime Celebration, an evening tour, Candlelight Christmas Evenings, as well as virtual tours, a Christmas pop-up shop, and an online look at their massive Christmas tree set up operation.

If you are hunkering down at home this year, Lizzie Borchers, the Biltmore’s floral manager, shared a few Christmas decorating tips with Virginia Brown of The Washington Post that will help capture some of the Biltmore’s Christmas magic.

To mark the estate’s 125th anniversary, the decorators chose the theme of An 1895 Christmas, the year when George and Edith Vanderbilt celebrated their first Christmas at Biltmore. That theme means filling the house with traditional elements in red, deep burgundy, and gold that reflect the Vanderbilts’ life and taste. While we may not all have banquet halls and stables to decorate, Borchers suggests choosing a personal theme that reflects your family history and “telling a story on your tree”. “Think about going back to your roots,” she says, noting that the Biltmore used Santas from countries that George Vanderbilt visited on his travels, making them seasonal, personal, and historical.

Borchers is also a fan of using family heirlooms and ornaments, but recommends taking precautions to keep them safe like photocopying old photos and then stringing them up as a garland. And if an heirloom ornament does break during some yuletide fun? Borchers suggests “preserving the broken pieces in a frame or inside a glass ornament that can be hung on the tree.” Cute, right?

Borchers also loves decorations with a theme, like the teal and gold ribbons on the tree in the Tapestry Room that pair perfectly with the rooms antique tapestries. Even if you don’t have a Tapestry Room, Borchers recommends choosing “Christmas decor [that] suit the look of your home or environment.” Like, if you live in “a coastal home, think seashells, sand or cocktail umbrellas” as items to trim the Christmas tree.

Borchers also recommends knowing your tree-trimming basics, like what Borchers calls the “squint test” to make sure lights and ornaments are distributed properly. She also likes to bring diverse textures and natural elements indoors. “Fresh greenery, like magnolia, is great, because it’s beautiful fresh, and it dries well,” Borchers told The Post. From there it’s all about paying attention to the details, easier at your house than the Biltmore Estate where they starch and iron 60 handmade bows just for the indoors.

WATCH: It’s Here! Watch the Biltmore’s 35-Foot Christmas Tree Come to Life

While you may not have a 35-foot tree to decorate, these tips may help you bring a little Biltmore magic to your house—and we all need a little extra magic this holiday season.

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