Holidays 2013

Holidays at the White House 2013

This year’s theme is ‘Gather Around’. It celebrates the stories and traditions that bring us together this special time of year. As members of one American family, we are united in a story built over the course of two centuries. The holidays serve as an opportunity to recall our Nation's journey, reflect on our blessings, and to remember those who serve and sacrifice for our freedoms. It's a season when each of us can do our part to care for one another.

Gather Around

Weekly Address: The President and First Lady Wish Everyone a Happy Holiday Season

In this week’s address, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Recent Holiday Content

December 24, 2013

West Wing Week 12/24/13 or, "The Holiday Card"

We take you behind the scenes as the White House is transformed into a yuletide masterpiece with the help of volunteers from across the country. We will also stop into a news conference the president held before he departed for the Hawaiian island of Oahu to have a Mele Kalikimaka with family and friends.

December 19, 2013

A Holiday Hangout

Take a peek inside the White House this holiday season. Play back this Google+ Hangout with the White House pastry chef and florist or take a look at some of the crafts they mention further down on this page.

December 16, 2013

First Lady Michelle Obama Reads "The Night Before Christmas"

At the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. First Lady Michelle Obama reads "The Night Before Christmas" to children.

Published December 7, 2013

Building the 2013 Gingerbread White House

Watch the White House chefs create the 2013 gingerbread house on a fireplace made out of cookies.

The Cookie Recipe

December 6, 2013

The 2013 National Christmas Tree Lighting

President Obama delivers remarks at the National Christmas Tree Lighting, and First Lady Michelle Obama reads "T'was the Night Before Christmas."

December 5, 2013

Koshering the Kitchen for Hanukkah

Watch the White House kitchen transform into a kosher kitchen with the oversight of local Rabbis. This process allows staff to prepare and serve a kosher meal for this year's Hanukkah celebration at the White House.

Evening Hanukkah Reception

Afternoon Hanukkah Reception

December 4, 2013

Press Preview

First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes military families to the White House for the first viewing of the 2013 holiday decorations and asks every American to remember what our military families and servicemembers often experience during this time of year, and the sacrifices they make to proudly serve all of us.

Décor & Crafts You Can Do at Home


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Photos: Holidays at the White House Through the Years

  • Obama
  • G. W. Bush
  • Clinton
  • Bush
  • Reagan
  • Carter
  • Ford
  • Nixon
  • Johnson
  • Kennedy
  • First Lady Michelle Obama, with daughters Sasha and Malia, and the family dog Bo, receives the official White House Christmas tree

    The First Lady with daughters, and Bo, receive the official White House Christmas tree, Nov. 23, 2012.

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  • First Family Reacts To Tree Lighting

    President Obama and his family react as they push the button to light the National Christmas Tree during a ceremony on the Ellipse, Dec. 9, 2010.

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  • First Lady Delivers Toys Donated To Toys For Tots

    The First Lady delivers toys donated by the WH Executive Office staff to the Marine Corps Base Quantico Toys for Tots Campaign, Dec. 16, 2009.

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  • The President And First Lady Greet The Strings For Joy

    President Obama and the First Lady greet members of the Strings For Joy ensemble during a holiday party at the White House, Dec. 14, 2009.

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  • The President And First Lady In Hanukkah Candle Ceremony

    President Obama and the First Lady take part in the Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony in the East Room, Dec. 2, 2010.

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  • Young Visitor Tastes Her Decorated Cookie

    The First Lady and WH Pastry Chef Bill Yosses laugh as a young visitor tastes her decorated cookie during a holiday craft demonstration, Dec. 1, 2010.

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  • Assistant Pastry Chef Builds Gingerbread House

    White House Assistant Pastry Chef Susie Morrison constructs the White House gingerbread house in the China Room of the White House, Nov. 29, 2010.

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  • Christmas Bo 2010 decor

    Bo, the Obama family dog, sits by a larger-than-life holiday decoration of himself in the East Garden Room of the White House, Nov. 30, 2010.

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  • Christmas First Family: Obamas 2010 in front of Tree

    President Obama and the First Lady pose in front of the Official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room, Dec. 5, 2010.

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  • Christmas First Family: Obama 2010

    President Obama and the First Lady descend the Grand Staircase to a holiday reception on the State Floor, Dec. 10, 2010.

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  • Christmas First Family: Obama coming downstairs 2009

    President Obama and the First Lady descend the Grand Staircase of White House to attend a holiday party, Dec. 13, 2009.

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  • Christmas First Family- Obamas Hannukah

    President Obama and the First Lady host a Hanukkah reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 16, 2009.

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  • Christmas First Family: Obama 2009 tree

    President Obama and the First Lady pose for a formal portrait in front of the official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room, Dec. 6, 2009.

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The Obama Holidays

With themes like, "Joy to All", "Shine, Give, Share" and "Simple Gifts", the holiday customs celebrated by the Obama family in the White House have centered around reflecting on our many blessings as Americans, rejoicing in the pleasure of spending time with family and friends, and renewing commitments to one another and to the causes that we believe in. One of the First Lady's most cherished traditions are the trees that honor the service of our armed forces, which have pride of place in the East Landing and the Blue Room each year. And visitors during the holiday season have been enchanted by the representations of the First Dog, Bo Obama, who has been recreated using pipe cleaners, trash bags, buttons, pompoms and even chocolate.

The White House would like to thank the White House Historical Association, the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library, the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, the Gerald R. Ford Library, the Rockefeller Folk Art Museum at Colonial Williamsburg, the DC Public Library, the Jimmy Carter Library, the Ronald Reagan Library, the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, George W. Bush Presidential Library and Coleen Christian Burke, author of "Christmas with the First Ladies" for photographs and research support.

Life at the White House