Match These White House Christmas Decorations With the Administration

Christmas in the White House enjoys a long and storied history. It all started in 1889, when the first White House Christmas tree appeared in the second floor oval room of Benjamin Harrison’s White House. According to The White House Historical Association, first lady Lou Henry Hoover established the custom of decorating an official White House tree in 1929. Since then, the White House Christmas decorations have become emblematic of how each administration celebrates the holiday season. This year, first lady Melania Trump’s Christmas decor stands in stark contrast to previous administrations’. Can you guess which decor belongs to which administration?

15. This White House featured ornaments by disabled citizens

president and first lady kennedy with their 1961 christmas tree

President and Mrs. Kennedy with the 1961 White House Christmas Tree. White House, Blue Room. | Robert Knudsen, Office of the Naval Aide to the President, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

According to, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy reused previous ornaments in 1962 for her children’s theme tree. She set up the festive tree in the White House North Entrance, and decorated it with Set up in the North Entrance, the tree also featured brightly wrapped packages, candy canes, gingerbread cookies, and straw ornaments made by disabled or senior citizens throughout the United States.

Next: The next first lady went with a nostalgic theme.

14. During uncertain times, this White House got cozy

lady bird johnson christmas tree

Lady Bird Johnson created a cozy Christmas at the White House. | Kevin Smith, Lyndon B. Johnson Library

The Lyndon B. Johnson Administration’s first holiday season set in during a time of national grieving. After President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, new first lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson wanted to help the nation heal. Her 1965 and 1966 Blue Room Christmas trees featured an early American theme. She decorated with small traditional ornaments, including nuts, fruit, popcorn, dried seedpods, gingerbread cookies, and wooded roses from Hawaii. Paper mache angels graced the tops of the trees.

Next: This White House also showcased traditional crafts.

13. Homemade ornaments decorated this first lady’s White House

the carter family in front of their christmas tree

The Carter family poses in front of their Christmas tree. | White House History Association

First lady Rosalynn Carter adorned her trees with crafts made by disabled citizens in 1977. The Blue Room tree featured painted milkweed pods, nut pods, foil, and eggshell ornaments. Her use of ornaments made by disabled citizens matched her dedication to the mentally ill and senior citizens.

Next: Kids probably loved this administration’s tree.

12. This first lady’s tree was very kid-friendly

nancy and ronald reagan in front of their tree

President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan pose for a Christmas photo in front of their tree in 1986. | White House archives

The 1986 Reagan tree featured decorations based on the theme Mother Goose Christmas. First Lady Nancy Reagan trimmed it with wooden gingerbread cookie ornaments, balls with pictures of each state, Christmas card ornaments, soft sculpted miniature geese, and a soft sculpture angel on top. The base featured 15 scenes from Mother Goose Rhymes.

Next: This White House looked back on days past with its decorations.

11. The first lady chose ‘Christmas Reflections’ as her theme

clinton's christmas decorations

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton announced ”Holiday Reflections” as the White House holiday theme in 2000. | Michael Smith/Newsmakers

First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton reflected on Christmas days past with her Christmas theme. She subsequently chose to decorating the house with fake fruit, sumptuous red bows, and warm decor. Check out this video tour of her White House to see more.

Next: This first lady kicked off another beloved tradition. 

10. First lady Barbara Bush brought her dog along

barbara bush christmas tree

In 1990, Barbara Bush viewed her Christmas tree with her spaniel, Millie. | First Ladies’ National Library

Barbara Bush’s 1990 Christmas photos included a rare appearance by her spaniel, Millie. The dog’s showing up during the Christmas decoration press tour later kicked off a tradition that continues to this day. Ever since, presidential pets have accompanied their owners during the holiday festivities. According to The First Ladies’ National Library, Bush and her family preferred to spend the holidays at Camp David, so all of her children and grandchildren could stay over and enjoy the festivities.

Next: This first lady’s theme paid homage to something we can all get behind.

9. Who doesn’t love presidential pets? Except Trump, that is

Laura Bush 2003 Christmas

First lady Laura Bush shows off some of the Christmas decorations in the East Room in 2002. | Mark Wilson/Getty Images

First lady Laura Bush donned a snappy red suit to show off a Christmas tree that matched her duds in 2002. She named “All Creatures Great and Small” as her theme, that year. The theme celebrated the joy and comfort pets brought presidents and their families during their time in the White House, according to The George W. Bush Presidential Center. In addition to the traditional trees, White House staffers crafted 25 paper-mache sculptures of America’s presidential pets. The animals included raccoons, sheep, and an alligator.

The exhibition also features the first installation of “Barney Cam,” the dogs-eye view holiday video that became an annual tradition.

Next: The first lady got patriotic with the next theme. 

8. This administration went out on a truly American note

laura bush with christmas trees 2013

The 2008 holiday theme was “A Red, White, and Blue Christmas.” | Alex Wong/Getty Images

In 2008, Laura Bush decorated with the theme, “A Red, White, and Blue Christmas,” to emphasize the American flag colors. White House archives recollect that the decorations celebrated the “uniquely American freedoms” for the administration’s last year in the house. “During this hopeful season we are reminded of the blessings of freedom we enjoy, and we renew our sense of what is important in our lives,” said Bush, at the time.

Next: The next year, the first lady chose a similarly cheery theme.

7. Joyful trees greeted visitors to this first lady’s White House

2009 white house christmas

In 2009, Michelle Obama chose “Reflect, Rejoice, Renew” as her theme. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

At the start of Barack Obama’s historic first term as the nation’s first African American president, first lady Michelle Obama chose a telling theme. “Reflect, Rejoice, Renew” celebrated not only a bright and cheerful holiday season, but also a new season for the country. The family’s Christmas address for that year touched on similar themes, as well.

Next: This first lady paid tribute to heroes in her decor. 

6. Visitors gathered around for stories of the season in 2013

obama 2013 decorations

The Obama’s 2013 White House Christmas decorations got very colorful. | Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Obama dubbed 2013 the year of stories with her theme “Gather Round: Stories of the Season.” “Our goal is for every room and every tree to tell a story about who we are and how we gather around one another to mark the holidays,” she said. The first lady chose to honor the military in this year’s decor. “When visitors arrive, the very first thing they’ll see is a tree decorated to pay tribute to our Armed Forces,” said Obama. “This tree, graced with special Gold Star ornaments, tells the story of some of our greatest heroes: Those who gave their lives for our country. And any Gold Star family who visits the White House can create their own ornament to honor their loved one.”

Next: Two favorite canines graced the decorations in this White House. 

5. Bo and Sunny the dogs became decorations

mechanized dogs in the 2014 white house

Mechanized figures of “Bo” (R) and “Sonny” (L), the Obama family dogs, became decorations in 2014. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The nation fell in love with dogs Sunny and Bo when they joined the White House family, so it made sense to include them as decorations, too. The 2014 White House display did just that, with mechanized models of the presidential pooches. The theme “A Children’s Wonderland,” brought visitors through a winter fairy tale through pint-sized eyes. It included the dogs, toys galore, and stacks of festive packages.

Next: This Christmas tree would delight a child of any age. 

4. The library’s Christmas tree fit right in

obama 2014 christmas tree library

A child’s dream Christmas tree adorned the library in the Obama 2014 White House. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The first lady adorned the 2014 White House holiday display with scores of symbolic materials. In the library, the tree featured blown-glass ornaments and printed ribbon to inspire the imagination. Hand-painted globes also sat on the center table, to remind visitors “those we care for are always near when held in our hearts.”

Next: The next first lady also paid homage to Christmases past. 

3. The White House honors tradition with this display

melania trump with children christmas trees

Melania Trump makes Christmas crafts with children in the Green Room. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

According to Time, Melania Trump chose the theme “Time-Honored Traditions” for her first Christmas as first lady. “The president, Barron, and I are very excited for our first Christmas in the White House,” Trump said in a statement. “As with many families across the country, holiday traditions are very important to us. I hope when visiting the People’s House this year, visitors will get a sense of being home for the holidays.” Those decorations involved opulent green and gold decorations in some rooms, and unique schemes in others.

Next: This first lady’s color scheme marks a departure from the rest, but some traditions remain.

2. The first lady decorated much of the White House in icy tones

melania trump walks past a christmas tree

Trump walks into the East Room as she tours Christmas decorations at the White House. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Although each first lady gets free reign to design the White House decorations as she sees fit, some traditions remain, year after year.  According to the White House, annual decorations include a tree tribute to Gold Star military families, President Reagan’s china, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1866 edition of A Christmas Carol. An official White House Christmas tree also stands adorned with glass ornaments emblazoned with the seal of each state and territory.

Next: Much of the White House did embody Trump’s signature style. 

1. Trump’s decorations feature a stark white forest

melania trump in white forest at white house

Trump’s decorations include a forest of stark, white branches that create a truly unique vibe. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Whether the white branches Trump chose for the hallway decor register as clean and bright or creepy depends on who you ask. Whatever your take, her decorations also make one thing very clear: Trump exists in a league of her own. She is not Obama, or Reagan, or either of the Bush women. She bears little resemblance to Johnson or Kennedy. Much like her husband, Melania Trump is her own person, for better or for worse.

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