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Last updated: May 6, 2021 • Holidays

Christmas at the White House Through the Centuries

Christmas is always celebrated in Washington DC, with an amazing assortment of decorations and a massive outdoor tree close to the White House itself. What has Christmas in the White House looked at over the past few centuries and what impact had for the real estate agents in Washington DC ?

1800: The first “official White House Christmas party was a children’s party thrown by President and Mrs. Adams for their four-year-old granddaughter Suzannah and the children of “official” Washington VIPs.

1834:  President Andrew Jackson’s famous “frolic” for the children of his household included games, dancing, a grand dinner, and an indoor cotton ball “snowball fight”.

1889: The first White House Christmas Tree was set up in the second floor Yellow Oval Room and decorated with candles, toys, etc. for Benjamin Harrison’s grandchildren.

1894: Grover Cleveland’s young daughters loved the tree decorated with red, white and blue electric light bulbs (electricity was first used in the White House in 1891.)

1903:  President and Mrs. Theodore Roosevelt hosted a Christmas “carnival” for 500 children with dinner, dancing, musical entertainment, souvenirs, and an ice cream Santa and other Christmas novelties. (Roosevelt did not approve of cutting trees for Christmas decorations, but his son Archie smuggled in a small tree, decorated it, and hid it in a closet!)

1909: William Howard Taft’s children had their first tree on the State floor in the Blue Room and the tradition was continued by Woodrow Wilson’s family during all his years in the White House.

1923: President Calvin Coolidge presided over the National Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in 1923. Every President since has followed through with this tradition.

1929: First Lady Lou Henry Hoover established the custom of holding an official event to decorate White House tree in the oval Blue Room, a tradition that has held for decades.

1961: First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy selected the first “theme” for the official White House Christmas tree, decorating with ornamental toys, birds and angels modeled after Petr Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite” ballet.

1969: First Lady Patricia Nixon decided to have disabled workers in Florida to make velvet and satin balls featuring each state’s official flower.

Since the ‘70s, the White House has seen the number of trees in the residence rise – with twenty or thirty trees now being the norm. We can expect grandiose and lavishly trimmed Christmas trees when President Trump takes office – Melania will likely take on the role the First Lady does of overseeing trimming.


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