Sunday, December 8, 2019


We got into the holiday spirit with a visit to the historic Cranbrook House in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan to see it decorated for Christmas. Designed by noted Detroit architect Albert Kahn this English Tudor-style was built in 1908 for the family of a newspaper mogul. It is the oldest surviving manor home in Metro Detroit. The mansion is now a centerpiece of the Cranbrook Educational Community which includes an art museum, science center and college preparatory academies.

Annually in December, the Cranbrook House is opened to the public for one weekend to showcase it decorated for Christmas. Visitors to this ticketed can take self-guided tours of the historic home enjoying its ambience decked out with Christmas trees, garland, and wreaths. Plus there is a chance to get a family photograph with Santa Claus. This year's Holiday Splendor event took place December 6 - 8. Proceeds from tickets to this fundraiser support the preservation of this National Historic Landmark.

Based upon the jolly good time we had at the Cranbrook House Holiday Splendor event, I highly recommend making it part of your holiday festivities next year. Visit or call 248-645-3149 in November to get specific Holiday Splendor dates and times to mark on your calendar. Especially, if you have young children at home because Cranbrook House provides an exceptional Santa Claus Sighting experience.

Mrs. Claus greets families as they wait to see Santa and get kids to fill out wish lists helping parents get some clues for present ideas and encouraging the children to chat about the gifts they want. If you don't have your holiday shopping all done yet this can be very helpful!

Situated in the picturesque library of the Cranbrook House, not only does this event provide a grand backdrop for photographs with Santa but he also provides a lot of interaction and personal attention to the kids that visit. A very nice opportunity to get a wonderful picture for your family's Christmas card or a memorable photo for a child's scrapbook.

During our visit Santa really chatted us up and expressed a genuine interest in each of the children that visited him. Only one family is brought into the grand room where he is located at a time so it feels like a private moment and there is no sense of rush because of a crowd surrounding you like is often the case during a visit with a Mall Santa. A bunch of digital pictures are taken and mailed to you so there is no pressure to purchase an expensive photo package to capture the occasion. Also they don't mind if you pull out your own camera to take a few shots of your own. With hat in mind, the Santa Sighting tickets during the Holiday Splendor event are a real bargain.

After taking some posed pictures and talking with children about what gifts they would like for Christmas, Santa then has the kids sign a book pledging to stay on the Nice List for another year. I thought that was a nice touch! The only regret I have from the experience is that we didn't bring my son and daughter when they were younger and probably would have been more into the moment. Don't miss out on this experience if you have young children looking forward to meeting Santa at Christmastime!

As we left Santa handed each of us some special glasses to wear. Donning these lenses transforms the lights on Christmas trees and other holiday decorations into shiny gingerbread men. Not only was it fun to explore the Cranbrook House seeing the special effects of these glasses throughout it but they also worked at home on our own Christmas decorations. We enjoyed relaxing in our family room after our Cranbrook House visit, sipping eggnog and enjoying the view of our Christmas tree twinkling with gingerbread men.

After spending some time with Santa Claus, we enjoyed walking around the Cranbrook House taking in the festive atmosphere. Entering this historic home is like stepping into a Charles Dickens novel. The holiday decorations compliment the antiques, artwork and architecture of the Cranbrook House providing a festive vibe to the place. In addition to the library, visitors can also explore a variety of rooms on the first floor of the manor house.

Visitors can wander through a Reception Hall paved in Moravian tiles that was originally used for entertaining guests and imagine being at a holiday gathering when the place was home to a vibrant family. The home office has a stately fireplace and display of artwork picked up by the Booth family during a South American expedition. The Sunset Room was laid out for a tea party. Two of our favorite rooms though were the Dining Room and Oak Room.

The Dining Room was decorated with a Chronicles of Narnia theme. A bust of Aslan guards the room's fireplace. A frosty looking Christmas Tree represents the Witch from the first book in the C.S. Lewis series of novels. Turkish delight was even placed upon the dining room table.

The Oak Room was filled with a ceramic Christmas Village circled by a model train. This isn't any ordinary toy train though. It is a classic Lionel Train from the 1930s covered in 18-karat gold plating. Toy enthusiasts and train hobbyists as well as kids of all ages will be delighted to get a close up look at this amazing locomotive. Beyond seeing Santa, watching this toy train race around the tracks laid out in the Oak Room was a highlight of our self-guided tour of the Cranbrook House.

Marvel in the architectural details of this magnificent estate, enjoy cheerful holiday decorations and have yourself a Merry Christmas by partaking in the Holiday Splendor of the historic Cranbrook House. This holiday fundraiser to help maintain and preserve this splendid place absolutely gets a Geek Daddy nod of approval. To learn more about this places or other events taking place here throughout the year, go to

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