The Christmas tree sparkles with blossoms of Queen Anne's lace dusted in glitter. Ivy hangs from the window frames, a nod to the Victorian-era tradition of using greenery as a defense against winter's chill. Elsewhere in the parlor of the 19th-century farmhouse, a print depicts children drizzling maple syrup in snow to make candy.
American Forest Scene: Maple Sugaring is a work by Currier & Ives - and the inspiration for this year's holiday tour at the Carroll County Farm Museum, held annually.
Currier & Ives prints - which capture a vision of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries - are displayed throughout the farmhouse, built in 1852, that is the heart of the museum. Most of the artwork depicts outdoor scenes, but the Farm Museum decorating committee found ways to capture the mood in the house's holiday decor.
"We really tried to mimic the pictures," said Dottie Freeman, museum executive director.
The holiday tour, offered tomorrow to Sunday and Dec. 13 to 15 this year, allows visitors to step back into the period from the 1870s to about 1910 and take in the holiday traditions of the era. The foyer of the Westminster museum features a Currier & Ives print showing a sleigh full of people approaching a farmhouse that bears a striking resemblance to the Farm Museum house.
In the parlor, the Christmas tree holds Victorian-era paper dolls right out of a Currier & Ives print.
"You get the head, arms and feet and cut them out, then I used cardboard for the body and dressed them," said Jean Carbaugh, who made the paper dolls.
In another part of the room, a wax woman sitting close to a wood stove unwraps a "celebration ball" of yarn that contains hidden gifts.
The farm owner's study has been turned into a printing room that details the Currier & Ives lithographic printing process, down to the grease pencil and stone used to make the drawings.
To prepare for this year's tour, a team of Farm Museum staff members and volunteers began research during the summer on Currier & Ives and the period in which they worked.
Nathaniel Currier and James Ives, both accomplished artists, joined forces in 1852 in New York. Although they created many of their famous prints, they also employed a team of artists and colorists who drew or helped make many of their 7,000 lithographs depicting everyday life in the last half of the 19th century.
One of their better-known prints, Central Park in Winter, hangs in the back hall of the first floor of the Farm Museum. The print shows dozens of ice skaters and portrays a range of social interactions, including young lovers gliding arm in arm across the pond and children struggling to master the skill.
Research by museum staff showed that the print inspired people from generations ago, Freeman said.
"The people would look at the costumes, and that would be the vogue, the `in' thing," she said. "They would pattern their period dress from their prints."
Women's period clothing - some with tiny waists that were possible because women wore tight corsets - is displayed in the Farm Museum's master bedroom.
"Fainting couches were placed around because the women would faint from not being able to breathe," said volunteer Wendy Holthause.
The children's bedroom shows the types of handmade gifts, such as needlework and seashell picture frames, that children presented to their parents. In the hall is an exhibit of teddy bears, to celebrate the 100th birthday of the stuffed animal.
In the dining room, the Prince Albert Christmas tree is adorned with candy, marzipan fruit and cookie decorations that would have been eaten as the tree was undressed.
Currier & Ives' print Home Thanksgiving hangs on the wall. The table is set with red Currier & Ives dishes, miniature goblets holding holly berries and a centerpiece of red roses.
"In Victorian times, the roses would be cut just before the first frost, dipped in wax, wrapped in tissue and put in a cool drawer until Christmas," said Pat Brodowski, museum historian and educator and a neighborhood columnist for the Carroll edition of The Sun. "On Christmas Day, the flowers would be clipped and set in warm water, and they would bloom for that day."
The kitchen is laid out for the holiday dinner preparation, with a stuffed ham and vegetables. An ice saw hangs on the wall near the print of Getting Ice.
The Victorian tearoom has five jewelry Christmas trees, made by Carbaugh. The gilt-framed miniature trees feature necklaces, bracelets and pins of gold, silver, opals, rhinestones and pearls.
The tour includes other attractions: the Sleigh Bell Cafe in the administration building; Pam Sites' gingerbread cookie houses; demonstrations of Victorian-era crafts; Hampstead artist Chad Calhoun's Norman Rockwell-style art; and wagon rides. Children will be able to visit with Santa Claus during some hours of the tour.
Holiday carols will accompany the lighting of a large holly tree outside the administration building at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The holiday tour will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays.
Admission is $1 per person; children ages 6 and younger will be admitted free with a paying guest. Visitors are asked to bring nonperishable foods for the Neighbors in Need program.
The farm museum is at 500 S. Center St. in Westminster.