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How the First Ladies Have Decorated the White House for Christmas: From 1930s to Today

Jill Biden recently welcomed the holiday season with classic Christmas decorations that came with a modern twist, inspired by acts of kindness. Her “Gifts From the Heart”-themed decor includes a 3D present-shaped archway, as well as light-festooned trees and garlands adorned with red and gold baubles, dove-shaped garlands and portrait ornaments. Some trees even came with a dusting of fake snow, while others were specifically decorated to celebrate “gifts” like learning, family and peace.

Christmas, White House Decor, Gift of Hearts, Jill Biden
The Official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room.
CREDIT: Sipa USA via AP
Christmas, White House Decor, Gift of Hearts, Jill Biden
A photo of Joe and Jill Biden hanging on a tree in the White House.
CREDIT: Sipa USA via AP
Christmas trees are decorated in the Booksellers Hall of the White House on November 29, 2021 in Washington DC. This year's theme for the White House Christmas decorations is ÒGifts from the Heart.Ó Photo by Ken Cedeno/Sipa USA.(Sipa via AP Images)
Christmas trees are decorated in the Booksellers Hall of the White House on November 29, 2021 in Washington DC. This year’s theme for the White House Christmas decorations is ÒGifts from the Heart.Ó Photo by Ken Cedeno/Sipa USA.(Sipa via AP Images)
CREDIT: Sipa USA via AP

Melania Trump unveiled her Christmas decor for her first celebration in the White House, revealing a “Swan Lake” theme with sleek, white branches and snow-frosted trees.

melania trump white house christmas decorations 2017
Melania Trump wears a white dress with gold pumps as she shows off her Christmas decor.
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

By contrast, former first lady Michelle Obama marked her first Christmas in the White House with brighter colors, choosing bold baubles to hang from the trees. Obama also highlighted her pups, Sunny and Bo.

michelle obama, white house christmas
Michelle Obama lets children play with her dog at the 2012 White House Christmas party.
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

Laura Bush opted for a look more similar to Trump’s, choosing snow-frosted Christmas trees and red poinsettias for a more traditional look.

laura bush, white house christmas decorations 2008
White House Christmas decorations in 2008.
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

When both Hillary Clinton and Barbara Bush were first ladies, each selected elaborate angel or stuffed animal ornaments, making for heavily decorated trees and marking a less minimalist aesthetic than that of more recent years.

white house, holiday celebrations, christmas tree, barbara bush
Barbara Bush with White House holiday decorations in 1989.
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

Nancy Reagan’s holiday celebrations differed from those who came before and after her: Reagan brought in actor friends to play Santa for her decoration reveal party, including Dom Deluise and Mr. T.

nancy reagan white house christmas photo
Nancy Reagan, clad in Chanel pumps, and actor Dom Deluise celebrate Christmas at the White House in 1987.
CREDIT: AP Images.

Going back even further, the Kennedy family celebrated their Christmases in bold fashion. With two young children roaming the White House, the Kennedys enjoyed the revelry with stacks of presents under the tree.

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Caroline Kennedy looks at the White House holiday decorations in 1961.
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

Of course, the Kennedys weren’t the only family to make Christmas a family affair. Despite the economic turmoil of the late ’30s, the Roosevelts brought together their entire family for a celebration, featuring minimalist, tinsel-heavy decor.

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The Roosevelts’ White House holiday celebration in 1939.
CREDIT: Rex Shutterstock

See more first ladies around the White House Christmas tree.

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