Incredible photos show how the White House has celebrated Christmas through the years

Photo: White House vbia @passtino/Twitter

It’s the most beautiful time of the year at the White House.

The West Wing, East Wing and every room in between have been decked out in elaborate decorations to celebrate the holidays, and President Trump and First Lady Melania are preparing to celebrate the holiday with their family.

This year’s official theme is “Time-Honored Traditions,” and there have been plenty of traditions through the years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Here’s a look back at presidential Christmas celebrations, going all the way back to the 1800’s.

The White House halls have been decked for the holidays every December since John and Abigail Adams held the first White House Christmas party in 1800.

Library of CongressInstalling the wreath at the White House entrance, 1937


Every president has brought their own traditions into the White House. Grover Cleveland, for example, lit up the first Christmas tree inside the White House to the delight of his young daughters.

White House Historical AssociationThe Cleveland Family tree in the second floor Oval Room of the White House.


Calvin Coolidge was the first president to instate a public Christmas celebration at the White House, with the first National Christmas Tree lighting in 1923.

Library of Congress


The tree lighting ceremony and the president’s participation has been a yearly tradition since then.

Library of CongressThe 1929 National Christmas Tree.


Franklin Roosevelt spent ten consecutive Christmas holidays in the White House and emphasised the importance of family during the holiday season.

Library of CongressThe tree in the East Room during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1936


First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy took White House Christmas decorating to a new level when she started selecting holiday themes. In 1962, the White House Christmas tree was decorated with ornaments inspired by children, including candy canes and gingerbread cookies.

Darren McCollester/Getty


Despite Jackie’s decorating efforts, the Kennedy family chose to celebrate Christmas Day in Palm Beach.

John F. Kennedy Library

Source: JFK Library

Lyndon B. Johnson and his family stayed in D.C. for the holidays in 1968.

LBJ Library

Here, the Johnson family poses in front of a Christmas tree in the Yellow Oval Room.

LBJ Library

Source: LBJ Library

Christmas in the Nixon White House was a lively affair. First Lady Pat Nixon told ‘Empire Magazine’ their holiday traditions included the president playing ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ on the piano for friends and family.

WikimediaFirst Lady Pat Nixon greets visitors to the White House, 1969

Source: Nixon Library

Another Nixon tradition was to decorate their Christmas trees with decorations made by disabled workers. The 1969 tree, dubbed the “American Flower Tree,” was decorated with velvet and satin ornaments featuring each state’s flower.

White House Historical Association


Gerald Ford brought two dates to the White House Christmas ball in 1975: his wife Betty and his daughter Susan.

Library of CongressPresident Gerald Ford, with wife Betty and daughter Susan, 1975


Many presidents have included their children and grandchildren in public White House traditions while in office. Jimmy Carter’s daughter, Amy, helped him light his first National Christmas Tree in 1977.


Source: AP

The Reagans really got into the holiday spirit when they lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Ronald Reagan dressed up as Santa Claus for a Christmas Eve party in 1983…

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

Source: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

… and First Lady Nancy Reagan sat on a different Santa’s lap.

WikimediaNancy Regan sitting on Mr. T’s lap in 1983.

Source: ABC News

Christmas during the first Bush administration was a family affair. Here, George H.W. Bush shows his grandchildren the Oval Office Christmas tree.

George Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Source: CBS News

George W. and Laura Bush celebrated a patriotic themed Christmas in 2008 to commemorate their final Christmas in the White House and the election year.


We want to wish everybody a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year,” Trump said at the National Tree Lighting this year. “Have unbelievable holidays.”

White House via @passatino/TwitterDonald and Melania Trump, flanked by flags, Christmas trees, and fake snow.

Source: Washington Post

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