First lady Betty Ford presented the official White House Christmas tree in 1976.
At that year’s lighting, President Ford said that as a former National Parks ranger he was proud to have real trees throughout the White House.
In 1983, the Reagans decorated their Christmas tree with ornaments made by two South Korean children they brought to the US on Air Force One for heart surgery.
One of the children, Brett Halvorson, reunited with Nancy Reagan in 2007.
“As I was only 4 years old, my memory of Mrs. Reagan is very vague,” Halvorson, told ABC News in 2016. “But what I do remember is that I felt comfort and love from a woman that was a complete stranger.”
The Reagans commissioned artists to paint scenes from inside the Executive Mansion during the holiday season for their annual Christmas card.
Many presidents, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and both George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, have since followed suit.
The Reagan White House incorporated pop culture into their playful decorations.
Nancy Reagan shared a moment with ALF during a children’s Christmas party at the White House in 1987.
In 1984, then-second lady Barbara Bush helped place the star on top of the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse.
Bush was joined by Joseph Riley, president of the Christmas Pageant of Peace committee.
When the Bushes became White House occupants themselves, Christmas was a family affair.
George H.W. Bush’s grandchildren were treated to a story when they spent Christmas Eve at the White House in 1991.
President George Bush celebrated all four of his Christmases as president at Camp David.
The Clinton White House had plenty of edible decorations each year.
Over the course of several years, the Clintons enjoyed gingerbread house versions of the Washington Monument, Mount Vernon, and even a replica of Hillary’s childhood home.
In 1994, Hillary Clinton decorated the White House around the theme “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
The ornaments on the National Christmas Tree were designed by schoolchildren across the US and the National Society of Tole and Decorative Painters, The New York Times reported.
In 2001, George W. and Laura Bush read books to local schoolchildren surrounded by Christmas trees decorated with lights and fake snow.
The president and first lady hosted students from Hoffman-Boston Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia, which American Airlines Flight 77 flew over before it crashed into the Pentagon on September 11.
First lady Laura Bush chose a “Red, White and Blue Christmas” theme for their final Christmas in the White House.
The patriotic theme was inspired by letters the president and first lady received after September 11.
In 2009, first lady Michelle Obama decorated the White House around the theme “Reflect Rejoice Renew.”
Christmas trees on the State Floor shone with lights and ribbons.
In 2011, she chose the theme “Shine, Give, Share.”
In keeping with the “Shine” element, gold star decorations adorned the hallway on the White House’s ground floor.
For the Obamas’ last year in the White House, larger-than-life replicas of their dogs Bo and Sunny added a playful and personal touch to the decorations.
The replicas were made with over 25,000 yarn pom-poms.
First lady Melania Trump’s non-traditional Christmas decorations in 2017 created a stark scene in the East Wing.
Trump’s crimson topiary trees as part of the 2018 theme “American Treasures” also garnered criticism.
“We are in 21st century and everybody has a different taste. I think they look fantastic,” Trump said in response to criticism of the decorations. “I hope everybody will come over and visit it. In real life they look even more beautiful and you are all very welcome to visit the White House, the people’s house.”
Trump kept things more traditional for the 2019 decorations with the theme of “The Spirit of America.”
The Grand Foyer was lit up with green Christmas trees covered in fake snow and white lights that shone overhead to make “a glistening winter garden,” the White House said in a release.
In 2020, the White House went with the theme “America The Beautiful,” offering a “tribute to the majesty of our great Nation.”
Small details throughout honored themes like 100 years of the 19th amendment and wildlife in the US.
The theme of this year’s White House Christmas decorations, chosen by first lady Dr. Jill Biden, is “Gifts from the Heart.”
President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden wrote in the 2021 White House Holiday Guide that “Gifts from the Heart” such as faith, family, friendship, and unity “tie together the heart strings of our lives.”
Christmas trees in the State Dining Room feature photos of the Bidens, as well as past presidential families.
Former presidents Donald Trump, Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, and Franklin D. Roosevelt are pictured with their families.
In the East Colonnade, clear blue circles and dove-shaped cutouts line the windows and glowing stars hang from the ceiling.
The doves and shooting stars represent “peace and light brought to us all by the service of frontline workers and first responders during the pandemic,” according to the White House Holiday Guide.
Wreaths in the China Room feature stars comprised of interlocking hands.
The China Room displays tableware and china sets used by past presidential families.
The Grand Foyer and the Cross Hall decorations center around the “Gift of Faith and Community.”
“The hallway alcoves and tree displays depict wintry scenes of life within our towns and cities, reflecting the solace of faith, the lasting bonds of community, and the perseverance of the American spirit,” the White House Holiday Guide reads.