-- Each Christmas season, the Biltmore Estate -- the nation's largest privately owned home -- welcomes 300,000 guests through its doors.
That's a lot of pressure for even the most experienced decorator.
A trip by George Vanderbilt to Asheville, North Carolina, in 1888 led to construction of the family "country home" the next year. It was open to the public in 1930 and in 2001, an inn was opened on the vast grounds. Today, it remains one of the most beloved travel destinations in the Southeast and is still family-owned.
For 2016, the Christmas at Biltmore theme is Hearth and Home, which "brings to mind celebrations around the fireplace, caroling from house to house, and certainly the warmth and hospitality that began with George Vanderbilt welcoming family and friends to his new home on Christmas Eve 1895," according to the estate.
The estate is home to 62 Christmas trees, the largest of which is the 35-foot-tall Christmas tree that spends the holidays in the seven-story-high Banquet Hall of the house. It's no small feat to bring the tree in safely, requiring 40 employees.
New in holiday decor this year is an 18.5-foot-long replica of Biltmore Village that sits on the dining room table in the Banquet Hall. Four generations of a Biltmore family helped build it: Designed by floral design team member April Partain, she and her mom (retired from Biltmore after 20 years); her brother (currently on the engineering services team at Biltmore); along with her father, grandfather and nephew, collaborated to create the village from dollhouses sourced from their family, a Biltmore marketing team employee and the staff from a Biltmore shop.