Consider the stress of having a houseful for the holidays. You inspect for cobwebs, make sure fresh sheets are on every bed, and install all the tasteful but not over-the-top seasonal decor.
Now imagine sprucing up for hordes.
Those who open their homes for holiday tours are a special group, generous, adventuresome and full of the spirit of the time.
So says Katherine Fowler, who is co-chairwoman of the Kappa Kappa Gamma Holiday Homes Tour, which draws thousands. If it’s not the oldest holiday home tour in the city, it’s right up there, she says.
“It’s been going for 63 years, and the older women who have been doing this for a long time were telling me that back then, tickets were $4, and they had to hand-make ornaments,” she says. “We’ve raised $1.9 million for various charities since our inception, and we’re pretty proud of that.”
A shop on the tour is a big hit with visitors, she says. And in a nod to the days of yore, handmade items take the spotlight this year.
“This year we’ve decided to focus on hand-crafted items by local and regional artists,” Fowler says.
Tricia Szasz, owner of Parkville Artisans’ Studio and Gallery, created 50 ornaments, each with a glass bead shining in its middle.
“I wanted to ground (the bead) with contrasting — earthy Flint Hills black clay, but I connected it to the bead’s shine with the shape of a star,” Szasz says. “Since I had been told that the Kappas ‘love their bling,’ I added a sparkling fleur-de-lis and a hand-wrapped wire key to the mix, and the 2014 Kappa Star was born.”
The ornaments and other artistic pieces can be found at the tour’s shop. Although you have to pay full price to tour the home, the boutique, nestled in the garage of the home at 5714 Windsor Drive in Fairway, is open to all.
This year’s tour will feature an English Tudor home, a contemporary home and an American craftsman home.
“And we have family homes this year, which is great, because I think people are always interested in children’s rooms,” Fowler adds.
Like the Kappa tour, the Kansas City Symphony Guild Tour of Note depends on the kindness of florists and designers to help deck out the homes.
John Shackelford, with Shackelford Botanical Designs, is taking advantage of the “family home” feel in the house of Rob and Kristen Cremer.
Kristen works for Hallmark and has an impressive collection of Keepsake ornaments, which Shackelford says may go upstairs in the little girl’s room.
“Downstairs we’ll look at some silver and metallic aspects, and rich colors,” he says pointing to the bright living room that’s open to a kitchen that would delight any chef. “It’s an elegant home, and we’ll work with that.”
By mid-October he’d already arranged Rob Cremer’s collection of nutcrackers, from toy to toddler size, around the fireplace.
Pointing out newer pieces, as well as a few antiques, Rob says, “I’ve always loved the ‘Nutcracker Suite.’ I told my in-laws about it, and the collection started.”
The dining room table is arranged, too, resplendent in gold and silver. A gilded mirror in the room, along with a silver chandelier, were the inspirations, Shackelford says. Place settings feature ornate ornaments, resting on each charger, a perfect gift for guests.
“For us it’s fun to see what he does, because we’re really minimalists,” says Kristen.
For the Cremers it’s an opportunity to invite the world into their wonderland.
“We have a big immediate family, so we have lots of family gatherings here,” says Rob. “We’ve lived here for a couple of years, and it’s fun to open it up to the public.”
Linda Perkins, with the Symphony Guild, says the nonprofit organization counts on the kindness and charity of the hosts and the floral designers, who create original holiday touches or themes in each of the homes.
“To let that many people into your home is incredibly generous,” she says. “And the florists are incredible, and make sure every home is different and very special.”
Kansas City Symphony Guild Tour of Note
Visit homes decked out by the pros at Tiffany Greens, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Boutique at Tiffany Greens Community Center. Advance tickets, $15, at Northland Price Chopper, Hy-Vee, Hen House on 64th Street, or online. Tickets $20 at the door day of tour. Benefits the Symphony Guild, which supports the Kansas City Symphony. kcsymphonyguild.org
Johnson County Young Matrons
Tour four homes and visit a boutique at the Ritz Charles in Overland Park. Tours are 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 19; boutique noon to 10 p.m. Nov. 18 and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 19. Tour tickets $20 in advance, $25 at the door. Boutique free. Benefits several nonprofit organizations. jcym.net
Soroptimist of Liberty
Holiday home tour 1-5 p.m. Tickets $12 or two for $20, available at Hairlines, Platte Valley Bank and two Bank Liberty locations, all in Liberty. Funds go toward scholarships and other charitable organizations. Libertysoroptimist@gmail.com
27th annual CASA tour
Local designers and florists will decorate several Topeka homes. Tours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $12 at the door; $10 in advance at Topeka Walgreens and Hy-Vee stores. Benefits Court Appointed Special Advocates of Shawnee County. casaofshawneecounty.com; 785-215-8282
Blue Springs Historical Society
Tour the Dillingham-Lewis House Museum at 15th and Main streets in Blue Springs 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 28-29. Admire decorated historical building, visit boutique and enjoy lunch. Lunch $12. 816-228-8979; bluespringshistory.org.
Harris-Kearney House Tour
Go back to 1955, when the home was 100 years old. Root beer floats and a sock hop both nights at the home, 4000 Baltimore Ave. 6-9 p.m. Nov. 28-29. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors. Benefits restoration projects at the historic home in Westport. westporthistorical.com.
Nov. 28-Dec. 30
All Wrapped Up is the theme at the historic estate at 313 W. Pacific Ave., Independence, including a tea room and boutique. Tours 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 1-4 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 28-Dec. 30 (closed Dec. 23-25). Twilight tour with light refreshments and music 4-7 p.m. Dec. 7. Tickets are $6 for adults, $3 for children. Funds raised help preserve the estate. bwestate.org, 816-461-3491
Victorian Christmas Magic is the theme at this stately 1881 Victorian mansion at 1500 N. Liberty St., Independence. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 1-4 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 28-Dec. 30 (closed Dec. 23-25). Tickets are $6; children $3. Funds raised help preserve the mansion. Chandeliers and champagne event 5:30-8 p.m Dec. 6. Call for ticket information. vailemansion.org; 816-325-7430
Kappa Gamma Holiday Homes Tour
Tour four festive homes in Kansas City, Fairway and Mission Hills, stop at the gift and gourmet foods shop at one of the homes for sweets, hand-crafted gifts and a tour ornament made by a local artist. Preview luncheon 11 a.m. Dec. 3 at Indian Hills Country Club. Luncheon ticket price of $95 includes early-access tour tickets. Tour times: 3:30-8 p.m. Dec. 3; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Dec. 4; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 5. Tickets are $25 in advance at Hen House locations and other retailers; $30 day of tour at homes on tour. Gift shop admission free. Benefits the Kansas City Community Gardens, SafeHome and Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation. kappahomestour.com
Mantels & Martinis
Tour four homes in the New Longview neighborhood of Lee’s Summit, along with the historic Longview Mansion, celebrating its 100th anniversary. “Tickets” are hand-painted martini glasses. Hors d’oeuvres and martinis are served at homes from 5-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $40. Benefits Special Olympics Lee’s Summit and the New Longview Foundation. mantelsandmartinis.com
Independence Young Matrons Holly and Mistletoe Tour
Four homes and a sweet shop at the Pavilion at Logan Woods, 14831 W. U.S. 40. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 4. Tickets are $12 in advance, from members or ticket outlets (see website); $15 at the door. Benefits community organizations. Independenceyoungmatrons.org; 816-690-8043.
Ben Ferrel Tour
Visit an 1882 mini-mansion during “Let Sleigh Bells Ring” event. Tour home with trees in eight rooms at 220 Ferrel St., Platte City. 1-4 p.m. $5 adults, $1 children under 12. 816-805-1112.
Weston Candlelight tour
Tour five historic homes in the 175-year-old town. Eventful supper 5-8:30 p.m. Dec. 5; tours noon-8 p.m. Dec. 6; noon-5 p.m. Dec. 7. Tickets are $35 on Dec. 5; includes drink and light supper at Eventful at Locust Grove; Dec. 6-7 tours $15 in advance, $20 day of tour, $5 for children younger than 12. Benefits Weston Chamber of Commerce. westonmo.com; 816-640-2909
Northland Christian School
Northland Christian School, 4214 N.W. Cookingham Drive, will host a Christmas home tour and boutique 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets $10 in advance, $12 at the door. 816-548-2222.
Christmas Historic Homes Tour
Carthage Historic Preservation presents tours of historic homes in Carthage, Mo. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 on day of tour. Victorian tea will be served day of event. Tickets for tea are $20 and reservations must be made. Call 417-358-9688 for tea times and reservations. Funds help manage and preserve Phelps Family Mansion. Phelpshouse.org.
Kearney First United Methodist Church
Tour five homes 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., enjoy lunch and craft booths at the church, 1000 E. Missouri 92, Kearney. Craft fair, which includes lunch, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $9 in advance at Bea’s Flowers and Gifts; $10 day of tour at church. Benefits Kearney First United Methodist Women’s projects. kearneyfumc.org; 816-628-5560
Visit five homes in the Northeast area of Kansas City, noon to 5 p.m. Visit artists’ market as well. Tickets $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Benefits Pendleton Heights Neighborhood Association. pendletonheights.org
Historic Westheight Manor, rich in architectural history, hosts a tour of seven homes 1-5 p.m. Tickets $10, available on tour day at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1300 N. 18th St., Kansas City, Kan. Historicwestheight.org, 913-621-4701.
Health Care Access Clinic benefit
Tour seven homes in Lawrence with a holiday shop and bake sale, noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance at Lawrence Hy-Vee and Sigler Pharmacy, Weaver’s, Health Care Access Clinic and online; $20 day of event. Benefits Health Care Access Clinic; healthcareaccess.org; 785-856-1672
Harrisonville Business Women of Missouri
The tour includes five homes in the Harrisonville and Pleasant Hill area, 1-5 p.m. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the Pleasant Hill banks, The Pleasant Hill Times, or by calling. Benefits nonprofit organizations including Hope Haven, a shelter for domestic violence. 816-540-2761 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fort Scott Homes for the Holidays Tour
The 34th annual tour in Fort Scott, Kan., will include a Victorian mansion and a bungalow. A Stocking Stuff shop will be open during tour days. Tickets for the two-day tour, which features different homes each night, are $12. Dec. 5, Moonlight and Mistletoe will be held at a loft home from 6:30-8 p.m. Tickets for the Dec. 5 event, which features drinks and appetizers, are $24, and include the home tour. A candlelight tour of the Fort Scott National Historic Site also will take place Dec. 4. Fortscott.com.
Lexington Home Tour
Visit five decked-out homes at the 18th biennial tour. Candlelight preview tour 6-8:30 p.m. Dec. 6. Tour noon-4 p.m. Dec. 7. Tickets to preview tour $14; Dec. 7 tour $10 in advance, $12 day of tour. Visitlexingtonmo.com
The historic 1844 Rice-Tremonti Home, 8801 E. 66th St. in Raytown, will be decorated for the holidays from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 6-7; Dec. 13-14 and Dec. 20-21. Tickets are $5. rice-tremonti.com; 816-356-2338
John Wornall House
Candlelight tour of 1858 home at 6115 Wornall Road, with sing-alongs and story-telling. Tours begin at 6 p.m., with last tour at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $7. Wornallmajors.org.
Leavenworth Candlelight Tour
The Vintage Homes Society of Leavenworth presents its annual candlelight tour featuring six homes, the Carroll Mansion, a school and a church from 1-7 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance; $17 day of tour, available at the Carroll Mansion and businesses. Benefits the Leavenworth County Historical Society. leavenworthhistory.org; 913-682-7759