It’s the season! It’s the season! Families around the world are busy decorating for Christmas, but that is nothing compared to the planning and preparation that went into making the White House Christmas ready. Laura Dowling, a former White House florist shares all the details about the White House Christmas Tree.
The White House Christmas tree
The first White House Christmas tree was set up on the second floor’s Yellow Oval Room in 1889. Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd president of the United States, was present at that time. For Harrison’s grandchildren, the tree was decorated using candles and toys. Over the years, the White House Christmas tree has become more elaborate. These are facts and figures that will help you understand the holiday. Learn more about the president who banned Christmas trees in the White House.
The Blue Room tree was first created by the Hoovers.
First Lady Lou Henry Hoover started the tradition of the White House Christmas tree being placed in the Blue Room. In 1929, she made sure the first official Christmas tree was decorated in the most festive manner.
Each year, the First Lady selects the theme
Christmas decorations are chosen by the First Lady. This tradition was started by First Lady Jaqueline Kelly, in 1961. (She chose to use the Nutcracker Suite theme. [Kennedy]’s theme was a bold statement. It was both representatives of her refined taste as well as expressing an American sense of style. Laura Dowling wrote her book White House Christmas.
Planning takes one year and execution takes five days.
Planning decorations for the White House takes over a year. Planning for the White House requires a lot of planning. This includes sketches, color palettes, and design elements. The planning process can be divided into three phases: design and development, creation, and implementation. The First Lady approves the ideas and the White House florist executes them within five working days of Thanksgiving.
Volunteers are vital
Each year, over 100 volunteers are needed to set up, assemble, and hang White House Christmas tree ornaments. There is a strict deadline. Volunteers come from all walks of America to help. Volunteers also sacrifice Thanksgiving dinners in order to help the cause. Selection is competitive and difficult. This involves writing letters of passion to White House officials.
Preparation on-site is possible
The preparation of decorations, wreaths, and ribbons takes place the first two days after Thanksgiving. Volunteers are invited to the White House and split into teams. Each team is led by a leader with previous decorating experience who has also worked in decorating the White House. After everything is cleaned and finished, the First Lady approves the final walk-through of the rooms.
Unexpected events can occur
There are rules to ensure that the White House is a treasure trove for American arts and a home to President Obama. Dowling, the White House official florist, stated that a holiday volunteer left a glitter-covered cloth at an 18th-century creche. It was ready to be placed in the East Room. She wrote A White House Holiday. A carpenter once dropped a four-by-4 with nails to hold a large garland above the Grand Foyer’s mirror. Yikes!
To decorate a tree, it takes 25 people
Dowling stated that the Blue Room tree’s theme connects with the White House Christmas theme. Due to the size of the Blue Room tree, we developed unique design plans as well as project plans. We also managed interactive projects, such as sourcing materials and requesting greeting cards from kids and ornaments from artists across the country. A team of 25 volunteers decorated the tree.
The October selection for the Christmas tree is made
The White House Florist collaborates with the Association of American Christmas Tree Growers each year to select the right tree for their clients. Dowling states that the White House tree selection ceremony is an annual tradition that occurs in October.
Sometimes the tree is too big
The Association of American Christmas Tree Growers chooses the best Christmas tree every year. However, one year the tree was too big to fit in the White House. Twelve Park Service employees had to carry the tree from the North Portico Door across the Grand Foyer, Cross Hall, and into the Blue Room. The White House doors could not accommodate the tree.
Decorations can include First Family Pets
Each year presents its own challenges and complexities. Dowling however says that there are some years that stand apart. In 2010, we developed many projects that were notable for their scope and ambition.