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'Great way to spend an afternoon'
Chateau Elan's sixth annual tour of homes returns for holidays

BRASELTON - Four families packed their essentials this week and moved out of their not-so-humble abodes to allow a group of strangers to tour their upper-class homes.

Nestled inside Chateau Elan, about 2,500 people are expected to explore the residences as part of the sixth annual It's A Wonderful House tour this weekend.

The event through the elite Braselton neighborhood wraps up today with tours running 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning at Chateau Elan's winery at 100 Tour De France.

Tour general chairman and Chateau Elan resident Lynn Price said preparation for the tour began months ago, starting with nominations from residents to decide which four homes should be included in the tour.

"Obviously this is a lot to ask of the homeowner," Price said. "But accommodations are provided by Chateau Elan for the families."

With the purchase of a $25 ticket, visitors will be guided through four ornately decorated homes.

"All the homes are decorated for the holidays," Price said. "One is like an Aspen lodge and everything in that home is very natural, and their Christmas design is a very natural design. The four homes are all really different."

Stops also include time to shop at the Corner Shoppe and a chance to grab a bite to eat at the Silver Sleigh Cafe, both located inside the resort.

"It kind of kicks off the holidays," Price said. "It really puts you in the holiday spirit."

Tickets can be purchased on site at the winery or online at www.itsawonderfulhouse.org.

All proceeds from the tour will go to the Gwinnett Children's Shelter.

"Over the last five years the tour has raised $650,000 for the children's shelter," Price said. "It's a great way to spend an afternoon. You can just spend the day eating and shopping. We have a lot of folks that come back every year."

SideBar: If you go

' What: It's A Wonderful House tour of homes

' Where: Tours begin at Chateau Elan winery, 110 Tour De France, Braselton

' When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, tours run every 15 minutes

' Cost: $25