Holiday home tours offered in Chateau Elan

LAWRENCEVILLE - Proceeds from the tours of two homes will benefit another home of sorts, the Gwinnett Children's Shelter, which provides services and housing assistance to abused and abandoned children.

The annual It's a Wonderful House tour of homes has welcomed more than 11,000 guests to residences in the Chateau Elan area and has raised more than $800,000 for the shelter since the holiday event began seven years ago. This year, the event is potentially an all-day affair of tours, dining, shopping and more.

Guests will board shuttles at the Chateau Elan Winery to begin their tours. Guides will describe the Chateau Elan area and provide entertainment as the shuttles travel to two private residences, the Willis home and the Zimbardi home. Both homes have been decorated by professional designers who have worked with the homeowners to create a holiday atmosphere.

"(Guests) need to wear comfortable shoes because the houses are massive," said Lynn Price, chair of the tour committee. "(Visitors will) definitely get their money's worth, and, most importantly, 100 percent of that goes to the shelter."

After touring the two homes, guests will travel to Creekside Village, where the Silver Sleigh Cafe will be open and offering food and beverages and the Corner Shoppe will provide an opportunity for holiday gift shopping, with items for sale ranging from jewelry and clothing to holiday decor and original artwork. Twenty percent of each purchase made at the Corner Shoppe and 100 percent of sales at the Silver Sleigh Cafe will be donated to the Gwinnett Children's Shelter.

Following food and shopping at Creekside Village, guests will visit the latest addition to the tour at the final stop, the Designer Showhouse, which boasts the talents of 20 interior designers from around the northeast Georgia area, including Duluth and Suwanee.

Shuttles will depart from the Chateau Elan Winery every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets for the tours are $25, and all proceeds will benefit the children's shelter.

For those who may not be able to take the full tour this weekend, the Designer Showhouse will be open Nov. 28 through 30. Tickets to tour the house are $10.

For more information on the holiday home tours, visit www.itsawonderfulhouse.org.

SideBar: If You Go

What: It's a Wonderful House 2008 holiday tour of homes at Chateau Elan

When: Shuttles depart every 15 minutes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Chateau Elan Winery,

Cost: $25

For more information: Visit www.itsawonderfulhouse.org