First Lady Jill Biden unveiled this year’s display of the White House Christmas decorations. The numbers are impressive. Ninety-eight Christmas trees, more than 142,000 twinkling lights and nearly 34,000 ornaments deck the halls of the White House in ways that Jill Biden hopes will inspire visitors to embrace their inner child and experience the “magic, wonder and joy” of the season. It’s her theme for the holiday décor.
“I don’t know how you feel, but I feel it’s just breathtaking,” the first lady said to applause and cheers during an event unveiling the White House’s holiday decorations. “The holidays offer a time for reflection and a break from our hurried lives, a season to be fully present with our friends and our families.”
She thanked the “hundreds of volunteer decorators and designers” who made this year’s display possible. The White House estimates it will welcome roughly 100,000 visitors throughout the holiday season.
It’s not surprising that the First Lady, an educator, should look at the holiday season from a child’s perspective. “Children have something to teach us, if we are wise enough to listen,” the first lady said. “How to remain present, even as a busy world beckons us. How to open ourselves up to love and wonder and to marvel at every moment, no matter how ordinary.”
The China Room has taken on the allure of a candy shop and is sure to delight young visitors, as favorite flavors and scents of the season are featured. A White House sweet shop sets the scene in this room, with holiday cakes, cookies, and gingerbread enhancing the space. Piles of cooking supplies and baking ingredients remind guests of familiar recipes that bring generations of families together year after year during the holidays.
Throughout the décor are numerous nods to the 200th anniversary of the publication in 1823 of the poem and book “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” The Library of Congress provided samples of editions from the past 200 years that are on display along the ground floor corridor.
A traditional gingerbread White House recreates the classic story by featuring a sugar cookie replica of the book along with Santa’s sleigh flying above the grounds. Santa’s sleigh and his reindeer are also suspended above the Grand Foyer.
The first tree in the White House is adorned with wooden Gold Star ornaments that are engraved with the names of fallen service members. The Gold Star tree honors the men and women of our Nation’s military who have laid down their lives for our country, those who are Missing in Action, and the families who carry on their legacies.
National Guard families, who were joining the first lady as part of Joining Forces, her White House initiative to show appreciation for military families, were among the first members of the public to see the decorations. There were several “gold star” trees honoring the military, throughout the display.
Children of these and other military families were also to be treated to a performance by the cast of the North American tour of the Disney musical “Frozen.”
The official White House tree in the Blue RoomTaking center stage in the Blue Room is the official White House Christmas tree, an 18.5-foot-tall Fraser fir. The stunning tree celebrates cheerful scenes, landscapes, and neighborhoods from all across the country, with names of every state, territory, and the District of Columbia, showcased throughout the decor. With bright colors and three-dimensional elements, guests will gaze in wonder as they are taken on a delightful adventure around the tree. A replica of a vintage passenger train, on loan from the Train Collectors Association, magically weaves through the tree’s base.
The Grand Foyer closes out the 2023 White House holiday display with an incredible, eye-catching recreation of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas. With Santa’s enchanting sleigh and reindeer suspended in the air, and the Cross Hall’s architectural niches featuring elements of the famous story, guests will leave their White House holiday experience with hearts full of “Magic, Wonder, and Joy.” (Photo above)