From the East Bay to the Peninsula and the South Bay, they're decorating the Bay Area's grand old mansions, architectural gems and designer homes for the holidays -- and inviting in guests.

Some annual holiday home tours are getting into the spirit early -- all the better for decorating inspiration and gifts. Proceeds from these boutiques, tours and teas benefit a range of community charities, historic preservation efforts and educational programs.

Here's a roundup of tours:

A Victorian Christmas at the Camron-Stanford House

When: 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1, for Victorian event; regular tours Dec. 14-15.

What: Victorian-themed event presented by the Camron-Stanford House Preservation Association of Oakland.

The home: Oakland’s Lake Merritt once was lined with impressive mansions like this 1876 Italianate Victorian, home to William Walker Camron and later, Josiah Stanford (Leland’s oldest brother). Saved from the wrecking ball in 1971, the restored Camron-Stanford House has been open to the public since 1978.

Extras: Penny Candy Shop where children can select an old-fashioned treat to take home.

Details: Free admission for the Dec. 1 event. For the afternoon tours on Dec. 14-15, regular admission applies ($5 general, $4 seniors). 1418 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. 510-874-7802; www.cshouse.org.

Santa Clara Historic Home Tour

When: 6-10 p.m. Dec. 6 and noon-5 p.m. Dec. 7

What: Annual tour of historic homes sponsored by the Historic Preservation Society of Santa Clara, with the Old Quad Residents' Association.

The homes: Visitors can tour two 1905 Colonial Revivals; an 1868 Pioneer style with American, Colonial, Greek Revival and Italianate details; and a modified Craftsman Bungalow. The newly opened St. Clare's Hook and Ladder Fire Museum is also on the tour.

Details: Tickets, $25-$30 in advance online or at merchants listed at www.sc-hometour.com. Tour-day tickets: $35. 408-249-7905.

EducationWins Holiday Home Tour

When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 7

What: Annual tour hosted by the Liberty Union High School District Educational Foundation.

The homes: Visitors get an inside look at eastern Contra Costa County homes and businesses that have been decorated in unique themes and festive decor. The tour begins and ends at Club Los Meganos (at Trilogy in the Vineyards, Brentwood), where attendees will receive a tour map.

Extras: Refreshments, entertainment, raffle and live and silent auctions.

Details: Tickets: $35 in advance online at www.educationwins.org or in person at Liberty Union High School District, 20 Oak St., Brentwood. Tour-day tickets: $40 at the door. 925-634-2166.

Ravenswood Victorian Yuletide

When: Noon-4 p.m. Dec. 8

What: A Victorian-style celebration at a historic Livermore site.

The home: Ravenswood's main house, cottage and tank house were built from 1885 to 1891 as the summer retreat for a San Francisco political boss and his family. Even back then, the estate occupied prime space in the vineyards of the Livermore Valley.

Extras: Carriage rides, visits with St. Nicholas, live entertainment, food, gift shop.

A fireplace gussied up for the holidays at Victorian Yuletide at Ravenswood in Livermore.
A fireplace gussied up for the holidays at Victorian Yuletide at Ravenswood in Livermore. (Gail Bryan)

Details: Admission is free. The site, at 2647 Arroyo Road, is managed by the Livermore Area Recreation and Park District. 925-373-5700; www.larpd.dst.ca.us.

A Silver Bells Holiday at the Ainsley House

When: Nov. 23-24 and Nov. 29- Dec. 19

What: Tours, teas, boutique, receptions at a historic Campbell home with 15 rooms decorated in this year's silver bells theme.

The home: Constructed in 1925 for fruit-canning pioneer J.C. Ainsley and his family, the Tudor Revival mansion features a distinctive thatched roof in the style of Ainsley's native England.

Details: Admission for tours alone: $8 general, $6 seniors, $4.50 ages 7-17; teas and open houses cost extra. 300 Grant St., Campbell. 408-866-2758; www.cityofcampbell.com/museum.

Christmas at McConaghy House

When: Weekends Nov. 30-Dec. 22: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays, 1-4 p.m. Sundays

What: This year, the theme is "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." The decorations in every room of the Hayward Area Historical Society's McConaghy House will be inspired by a different Christmas song, from "Blue Christmas" to "O Christmas Tree."

The home: John McConaghy, the youngest son of the namesake family, lived in this 1886 Stick/Eastlake-style Victorian for more than 85 years, until his death at age 100.

Extras: Santa Claus will visit Dec. 14. Crafts, story time, cookies and cider will be available, too.

Details: Admission: $5 general, $3 seniors/students, free for kids 10 and younger. 18701 Hesperian Blvd., next to Kennedy Park. 510-581-0223; www.haywardareahistory.org.

Homes for the Holidays

When: Noon-4 p.m. Dec. 8

What: The Antioch Woman's Club is sponsoring this tour of six homes decorated for the holidays.

Extras: Reception from 2 to 5 p.m. at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6335, 815 Fulton Shipyard Road, Antioch.

Details: Tickets: $25. To purchase, call 925-754-6573 or 925-754-8771.

AAUW Holiday Home Tour

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 13-14

What: Tour five festive Alamo homes.

Extras: Drawing for quilt.

Details: Tickets: $25-$30. Prices go up $5 each after Dec. 6. Send a check and a self-addressed stamped envelope to AAUW Holiday Home Tour, P.O. Box 996, Alamo, CA 94507. Purchase in person (cash and check only) at East Bay Flower in the Danville Livery. Pay online through PayPal at http://daw-ca.aauw.net/programs/hht. Proceeds benefit local women scholars and Tech Trek.

Holiday Traditions at Filoli

When: Nov. 29-Dec. 7

What: Boutique, plus lunch buffets and children's parties at a mansion decorated in an "Ice Fantasy" theme for the holidays.

The home: Set on 654 acres, this circa-1917 country estate is the grande dame of Bay Area historic properties. The 36,000-square-foot mansion was designed by San Francisco architect Willis Polk.

Extras: Bay Area musicians and local choral groups will perform at many of the events.

Details: Prices vary by event, $30-$85; order at www.filoli.org. The estate is at 86 Cañada Road, Woodside. 650-364-8300.

Clayton Christmas Home Tour

When: Noon-7 p.m. Dec. 15

What: Annual tour benefitting the Clayton Historical Society.

The homes: Self-guided tour of six Clayton homes decorated for the holidays.

Details: Tickets: $30. Send a check to Clayton Historical Society, P.O. Box 94, Clayton, CA 94517 or purchase online. Tickets will not be mailed. Pick up on tour day from noon to 6 p.m. at the Clayton Historical Society Museum, 6101 Main St. 925-672-7680; www.claytonhistory.org.

Finishing Touches Holiday Home Tour

When: Dec. 6-7

What: Annual fundraising event hosted by the Junior League of Palo Alto/Mid Peninsula benefits community programs.

The homes: Both self-driven and shuttle-driven tours of Peninsula homes dressed up for the holidays.

Extras: Holiday boutique at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley, 2050 University Ave., Palo Alto, where tour participants will park. Other events: "Mistletoe & Martinis" cocktail party, designer luncheon and holiday party-planning session.

Details: Tour tickets, $40-$65, available at www.thejuniorleague.org or at the Four Seasons on tour days. Other events: $45-$150.

A Holiday Tradition at Dunsmuir-Hellman House

When: Weekends only, Dec. 7-22, noon-4 p.m.

What: Tours, teas, entertainment and holiday shopping at the historic Oakland estate.

The home: The 37-room Neoclassical Revival mansion, built in 1899, was commissioned as a wedding gift by Alexander Dunsmuir. He died on his honeymoon; his wife died just two years later. The Hellman family bought and lived at the estate for several decades.

Extras: Adult and children's teas, breakfast with Santa. Decorated horse-driven carriages will ferry visitors around the 50-acre grounds. On Dec. 15, the Oakland Ballet children's dance workshop will perform excerpts from "The Nutcracker Suite." On Dec. 22, the Puppet Company will present a show.

Details: Prices and hours vary; check website for specifics. 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland. Tickets, 510-238-3052; http://dunsmuir-hellman.com.

Yuletide at Montalvo

When: 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 22-23

What: Holiday shopping in a mansion lavishly appointed for the holidays.

The home: Set on 175 acres in the Saratoga hills, this 1912 Mediterranean-style villa was the home of U.S. Sen. James D. Phelan.

Extras: Lunch and refreshments may be purchased in the bistro. Antiques appraisals 1-3 p.m. Nov. 23. Holiday teas on Dec. 6 and 8.

Details: Free admission to yuletide marketplace. $5 for on-site parking; carpooling is encouraged. 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga. http://montalvoarts.org.

Alameda Holiday Home Tour

When: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 14

What: Annual fundraising tour presented by the Alameda Family Services League is now in its 43rd year.

The homes: An array of festively decorated Victorians and other homes in this architecturally rich city.

Extras: Gift boutique and gourmet shop will be open to the public all day long (free admission) at the Alameda Elks Lodge, 2255 Santa Clara Ave. Visitors with tickets are invited to the Holiday Dessert Tea, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at the First Presbyterian Church, 2001 Santa Clara Ave.

Details: Tickets: $35 in advance online or at merchants listed at www.alamedaholidayhometour.info (click on "tickets"). Tour-day tickets, $40, at the Elks Lodge. 510-629-6208.

Christmas at Ardenwood

When: Dec. 7-8

What: Victorian-inspired activities at Fremont's Ardenwood Historic Farm and Patterson House.

The home: Patterson House, the centerpiece of Ardenwood, was originally a family farmhouse built in 1857. The Queen Anne expansion came later.

Extras: Father Christmas, yule-log hunts, crafts, caroling, plus tours of the decorated Patterson House.

Details: Tickets: $5-$8. 34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont. 510-544-2797, 510-791-4196; www.ebparks.org/features (click on "Christmas at Ardenwood, " then download PDF for full details).

Niles Holiday Home Tour

When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 14

What: A driving/walking tour that benefits the preservation efforts of the Niles Main Street Association in Fremont.

The homes: Quaint bungalows, stately Victorians and antiques stores in the historic Niles district get dolled up for the holidays.

Extras: Mulled cider, cookies.

Details: Tickets: $15 advance online (www.niles.org) or at local store (My Friends and I) or $20 day-of event. Tour begins at the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, 37417 Niles Blvd.

Christmas at Our House

When: Dec. 5-7

What: The 25th anniversary tour hosted by the Women's Club of St. Francis High School in Mountain View.

The homes: This year's event will take tourgoers to visit decorated homes in the Los Altos Hills area.

Extras: Boutique, luncheon and "Wine, Women & Shopping" event at Fremont Hills Country Club, 12889 Viscaino Place, Los Altos Hills.

Details: Tour tickets, $45; luncheon, $30; Dec. 6 twilight tour and preview party, $125. Purchase tickets at www.sfhs.com.

Want your holiday home tour listed in our calendar? Email home@bayareanewsgroup.com.