The Washington Post

Historic homes of Washington prepare for the holidays

The twelve-foot Christmas tree at the Woodrow Wilson House, filled with electric lights. (Courtesy of Woodrow Wilson House, a National Trust Historic Site)

The jack-o-lanterns just left our doorsteps, and before you get too comfortable sipping your pumpkin latte, it’s already time to start putting out the mistletoe.

Luckily, four of Washington’s historic homes, spruced up with Christmas decorations, will open their doors for the “Holidays Through History” tour on Dec. 3. Here are four tips from the tour to fire up the decorating inspiration:

1. Make your own keepsake ornaments

Anderson House visitors will learn about how holidays were celebrated in the Gilded Age, with the 106-year-old home featuring adornments from the turn of the 20th century. The House’s exhibition “France in the American Revolution” will be on view, and young guests can make ornaments to serve as souvenirs of their visit, as well as sample treats and Christmas music performed on the 1898 Steinway piano.

2. Toss on the tinsel

While the descendants of Martha Custis Peter no longer dwell at Tudor Place, the Roaring Twenties will come to life in the family’s decorations to be featured at the home.

3. Go bright and bold with electric lights for the tree

With even more adorning to be found at Woodrow Wilson House, where the former president’s home will hold a 12-foot tree full of electric lights, a nod to the home’s current exhibit “Woodrow Wilson, President Electric: Harnessing the Power of Innovation in the Progressive Era.”

4. Don’t forget the music

Add all the candy canes you want, but the decorating isn’t complete without some carols lilting in the background. Sick of Jingle Bells? Opt for “Music in the Federal Period,” the exhibit on display at the Federal-style Dumbarton House.

The dining room at Dumbarton House, decorated for the holidays. The Georgetown home will focus "Music in the Federal Period" during the holiday home tour. (Courtesy of NSCDA/Dumbarton House)

Addresses and more information can be obtained as follows:

Anderson House: 2118 Massachusetts Ave., NW; 202-785-2040;

Dumbarton House: 2715 Q St. NW; 202-337-2288;

Tudor Place Historic House and Garden: 1644 31st NW; 202-365-0400;

Woodrow Wilson House: 2340 S St. NW; 202-387-4062;

Click to buy online.


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