December 2019

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks

December 1, 2019

In 2018, President Trump and the First Family celebrated their second Christmas in the White House. That year’s theme, “American Treasures,” was chosen by First Lady Melania Trump to honor the unique heritage of our Nation. Throughout that Christmas season, the White House shined with the spirit of patriotism, showcasing many splendors found across the United States. In the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall, more than 14,000 red ornaments adorned 29 trees as a symbol of valor and bravery.

White House decoration volunteers prepare Christmas tree decorations on State Floor at the White House, November 24, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks

December 2, 2019

Did you know that volunteers are key to the Christmas season at the White House? Each year, the “People’s House” opens to the public for tours of the decorations during the month of December—all thanks to the help of volunteers from across the country!

In 2017, more than 150 volunteers from 29 states were selected to help tie ribbons, set up lights, hang ornaments, and much more!

Be sure to apply next year at whitehouse.gov/Christmas, but mark your calendars early: The application process typically begins in September! You can apply either to decorate the White House during the week of Thanksgiving or to perform as a musician during the Holiday Open Houses throughout December.

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

December 3, 2019

Both in 2017 and 2018, President Trump and the First Lady participated in NORAD’s (the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s) Santa Tracker, a Christmas Eve tradition dating back more than 60 years. Both the President and First Lady took calls from young children, who dialed in to learn where Santa was at that moment in his journey around the world!

This photograph shows President Trump and the First Lady answering phone calls in the State Dining Room of the White House in 2018.

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

December 4, 2019

In 2002, despite the White House still being closed to visitors following the attacks of September 11, Americans got a peek at the decorations through a camera strapped to the Bush family’s beloved Scottish terrier, Barney. In a video titled “Happy Holidays from Barney and Spotty, 2002,” Barney ran excitedly through the halls of the White House, taking in the Christmas season. The video was an instant hit.

This photograph shows the Bushes’ Scottish terrier, Barney, inspecting presents under the tree.

Photo Credit: National Parks Service

December 5, 2019

In November of 1923, First Lady Grace Coolidge gave permission for D.C. Public Schools to place a Christmas tree on the Ellipse. The organizers would name this tree the “National Christmas Tree.” That Christmas Eve, President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse to light the tree, becoming the first chief executive to preside over the event. The 1923 tree was a 48-foot Balsam fir with 2,500 electric bulbs in red, white, and green colors.

Now a beloved American tradition celebrating its 97th year, the 2019 National Christmas Tree Lighting takes place tonight on the Ellipse at President’s Park. Each day following the ceremony, the National Christmas Tree will be lit from approximately 4:30 p.m. to midnight as part of the “America Celebrates” display at President’s Park. It’s free to visit and open to the public, so come check it out!

Thank you to both the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation for putting on this terrific event each year!

Photo Credit: National Archives/Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum

December 6, 2019

During the Nixon Administration, a new White House tradition was born! Beginning in 1969, during their first Christmas in the White House, First Lady Pat Nixon worked with Pastry Chef Hans Raffert to create the first renditions of the now famous White House gingerbread house! Chef Raffert designed a two-foot-tall, A-frame house that was held together with 6 pounds of icing, 5 pounds of cookies, 1 pound of candy, and 12 candy canes. The final product was completely edible and weighed 40 pounds!

First Lady Pat Nixon and her daughter, Julie Nixon, are seen here in December of 1971, viewing one of the original A-frame gingerbread houses.

Photo Credit: National Archives/FDR Presidential Library

December 7, 2019

Just weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, some 20,000 Americans gathered on the South Lawn to hear Christmas addresses from President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, standing together on the South Portico. The world listened in by radio as President Roosevelt called the Nation to courage and good cheer, saying “Our strongest weapon in this war is that conviction of the dignity and brotherhood of man which Christmas Day signifies more than any other day or any other symbol.”

Photo Credit: Reagan Library

December 8, 2019

President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan spent 8 Christmases at the White House! For their first Christmas at the White House, in 1981, Mrs. Reagan decorated the official Blue Room tree with ornaments lent by the Museum of American Folk Art.

Seen here, is President Reagan and the First Lady in front of their Christmas tree in the Private Residence in 1981.

Photo Credit: Gerald R. Ford Library

December 9, 2019

During the holiday season, the White House can be home to more than 30 Christmas trees! While the most well-known is the Official Christmas Tree in the Blue Room, trees can also be found in the Red Room, Green Room, and Grand Foyer.

In 1975, First Lady Betty Ford and her daughter, Susan, made their own Christmas ornaments for a tree in the White House Solarium!