Jill Biden unveils traditional White House holiday décor

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Holiday decor at the White House
Holiday decor at the White House


First lady Jill Biden on Monday revealed her White House holiday décor and her theme for the season, "Gifts from the Heart."

The first lady chose symbols to represent gifts that unite Americans for the annual White House holiday decorations, including faith, family and friendship.

"As we celebrate our first holiday season in the White House, we are inspired by the Americans we have met across the country, time and again reminding us that our differences are precious and our similarities infinite," President Biden and the first lady said in a joint statement.

Red gift boxes lined the East Wing entrance to the White House, where a band played Christmas carols like "Jingle All the Way," "The First Noel" and "Joy to the World."

A lit-up tree is the first decoration visitors see when entering the East Wing, decorated with star ornaments with the names of Gold Star service members on it. The wing is dedicated to gifts of service to honor the military, front-line workers, essential workers and first responders.

Overall, there are 41 Christmas trees throughout the White House. The first lady and her team started in the early summer thinking about theme and décor. Every room has an element of a subtheme, reflecting different gifts from the heart.

The White House library is dedicated to gifts of learning, which included books with butterflies flying off the pages. In the Vermeil Room, the gift of visual arts comes to life with paint brushes covered in paint and colorful ornaments on the trees.

The first lady decorated the China Room, which showcases all the past presidential china, with the gift of friendship and sharing. A tree has ornaments of intertwined hands and there's a table set with flowers from the White House garden, candles and the presidential china from former President Obama.

The Grand Foyer and hall is dedicated to gifts of faith and community, where another band played Christmas carols, four trees were lit up and snowflakes lights danced on the ceiling. Pop-up cards were displayed to represent homes from all over the country with a replica of the stained glass at the Camp David Chapel on a steeple.

For the gift of nature, orchids and purple trees stood in the Green Room, and for the gift of the performing arts, a tree was decorated with musical notes and violins hung in the windows of the Red Room.

Thank-you cards the Bidens have received throughout the year were the ornaments on the trees in the East Room to represent the gift of gratitude. Some letters were from adults, while some were drawings from children. In this room also displayed the Neapolitan crèche, or the nativity, that the White House has used since 1967.

For the gift of peace and unity, the official Christmas tree with ornaments of all 50 states and territories along with flying doves stood in the Blue Room. The state ornaments were hung alphabetically, with Delaware and the District of Columbia in a prominent spot in the front of the tree.

The grand finale was in the State Dining Room, where the gift of family was represented. Two trees surrounded the stocking-decorated fireplace, where photographs of the Bidens and past presidents and their families were hung.

Former President Trump and former first lady Melania Trump made an appearance on the tree in two framed photographs from their past Christmases at the White House.

The official 2021 Gingerbread White House, 350 pounds of intricate details representing front-line workplaces such as a gas station, police station, postal office and hospital, was displayed in the State Dining Room.

The White House pastry team used 55 sheets of baked gingerbread, 120 pounds of pastillage, 35 pounds of chocolate and 25 pounds of royal icing. The gingerbread men were dressed as doctors, construction workers, teachers and firemen.

About 6,000 feet of ribbon, more than 300 candles and more than 10,000 ornaments were used to decorate the White House, and more than 78,750 holiday lights decorate the Christmas trees, garlands, wreaths and displays. Another 25 wreaths are hung on the north and south facades of the White House.

Some decorations are reused and recycled, like the standard ornament balls that are part of the White House collection.

The White House is currently closed for public tours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.