Holiday Afternoon Tea at The Carolina Inn

Although I “bleed Duke Blue” most of the time, I enjoy all goods things in the Triangle—including the University of North Carolina’s beautiful campus in Chapel Hill.

I’ve wanted to explore The Carolina Inn, a “National Register of Historic Places” hotel on the campus of UNC, for quite some time. Its blend of Southern plantation style, Georgian flavors, and neoclassical elements give it an alluring charm.

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The front entrance of The Carolina Inn (Chapel Hill, NC)

This year, I had Holiday Afternoon Tea at The Carolina Inn. (Sorry Duke Inn, I still love y’all!)

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The Carolina Inn’s tea service incorporates an eclectic mix of bone china pieces. No two tea pots, cups and plates looked alike, but each no doubt held an interesting story; and the scones (delicious!) went well with my “Tea of Good Tidings” black tea.

The Inn was decorated for the 17th year in a “Twelve Days of Christmas” theme. Each day was a creative rendering by a southern artist. These various vignettes were displayed throughout the Inn, making it an adventure for young and old to locate and investigate the artists’ interpretations of the verses that comprise the traditional song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Interspersed with this theme were other festive elements, such as poinsettias and elves busy at work.

But why am I telling you this? Please, allow me to show you the wonder:

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Elves were busy decorating the tree in the main lobby of The Carolina Inn. (Chapel Hill, NC)

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The topper for the tree in the main lobby was the crystal chandelier that’s a mainstay–you can see a little bit of it in this photo. The ornaments were a mixture of crystal and blown glass. — The Carolina Inn (Chapel Hill, NC)

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Poinsettias lined the corridor leading to the Ballroom and Colonnade at The Carolina Inn. (Chapel Hill, NC)

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“On the First Day” was created in 2008 by UNC alum Jeannette Brossart. The pear shaped carving was made from scraps of foam, finished with a cement and fiberglass mess exterior containing a partridge and the words “On the first day” in 24k gold leaf tesserae. — The Carolina Inn

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Felix & Fiona, two turtle doves, were perched in the Colonnade. — The Carolina Inn (Chapel Hill, NC)

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The sight of these three plump and playful french hens, created by Betsy Vaden in 2012, made me smile. — The Carolina Inn

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Larry Hearth of Hickory, NC, created “Four Calling Birds” from 100-year-old metal roofing of tobacco barns. (This wall hanging was designed in 2002 for The Carolina Inn’s “Twelve Days of Christmas.”)

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Five golden rings! This Gingerbread House was created by The Carolina Inn’s Executive Pastry Chef, Sara Thomas as a replica of the Inn. The five golden rings were “hidden” in the display.

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Can you spot a few of the golden rings in this photo? I see three of the five! — The Carolina Inn “Twelve Days of Christmas”

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“Six Geese A-Laying” consisted of hand-blown European ornaments on an iron urn. Very pretty in person—and looked like a lot more than just six because of the mirror! — The Carolina Inn (Chapel Hill, NC)

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One of my favorites, “Seven Swans A-Swimming” was an origami cut from the pages of a 1964 history book created by The Carolina Inn’s Reservations Manager, Elizabeth Rodriguez.

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LEGO artist William Stroh of Holly Springs created “Eight Maids A-Milking” from, you guessed it, LEGO building bricks and figures! — The Carolina Inn (Chapel Hill, NC)

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Lance McRorie, a glass artist from Georgia, created the elegant “Nine Ladies Dancing” in the old tradition of flame working glass. — The Carolina Inn (Chapel Hill, NC)

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“Ten Drummers Drumming” was created by Riley Foster of Mebane in 1999 from recycled machine and vehicle parts and other found objects. — The Carolina Inn

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SPOILER ALERT: “Eleven Pipers Piping” was an imaginative invention of artist Susan Philips from Apex, NC in 2001. A peek into a stained-glass looking box (left) revealed eleven pipers of surprising style and character (right). — The Carolina Inn (Chapel Hill, NC)

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A mechanical toy tops off the twelve days. The “Twelve Lords A-Leaping” crank toy tree designed by photographer Mark Crummett appeared to be a fan favorite. — The Carolina Inn (Chapel Hill, NC)

There’s still time to see the “Twelve Days of Christmas” at The Carolina Inn. The celebration runs through January 2, 2015.

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