First Lady Melania reveals first Trump Christmas White House

The family Christmas card is framed and on display, along with cards from past presidents

Darlene Superville
Washington DC
Tuesday 28 November 2017 01:31
Comments
First Lady Melania Trump watches ballerinas perform during her 2017 tour of the White House Christmas decorations
First Lady Melania Trump watches ballerinas perform during her 2017 tour of the White House Christmas decorations

Ballerinas leaping to the strains of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker helped launch Christmas at the White House - with Melania Trump choosing the theme is “Time-Honoured Traditions,” a nod to 200 years of holiday celebrations at the mansion.

“The decorations are up!” Ms Trump tweeted about the Trump family's first Christmas in office. “@WhiteHouse is ready to celebrate! Wishing you a Merry Christmas & joyous holiday season!”

Among the new touches this year: On the outside, wreaths topped with red bows adorn every White House window. Inside, glistening wintry branches line both sides of an East Wing hallway that leads guests to a tree decorated with the Trump family's official Christmas ornament, a gold-toned bauble featuring the presidential coat of arms surrounded by a wreath of holly.

The first lady's office previewed the decorations before welcoming students from a nearby military base in Maryland to see the decorations and try some Christmas-themed arts and crafts, such as building gumdrop trees and decorating garland.

“Are you the first lady?” asked one incredulous boy who then moved in for a hug. Classmates quickly followed for hugs of their own.

Wearing a winter white dress with cape-like sleeves and gold-toned heels, Mrs. Trump descended a staircase from the residence to the Grand Foyer and spent a few minutes taking in the ballerinas before she joined a group of children making paper wreaths and other decorations in the State Dining Room. The dancers echoed the first themed Christmas at the White House, Jacqueline Kennedy's “Nutcracker Suite” in 1961.

First Lady Melania Trump walks through Christmas decorations in the East Wing

The family Christmas card is framed and on display, along with cards from past presidents. “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” says the card signed by President Donald Trump, the first lady and Barron, their 11-year-old son.

That's a change from the Obama years, when the annual cards offered more generic sentiments of “Season's Greetings” or wishes for happy holidays. Mr Trump has vowed to put “Christmas” back at the centre of the holidays. During the presidential campaign, he complained that saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” amounted to “chipping away at Christianity.”

Among the Christmas standards is an 18-by-6-foot (5.5-by-1.8-meter) Balsam fir from Wisconsin in the traditional spot in the Blue Room, decorated with ornaments bearing the seals of every state and US territory. A separate tree near the East Wing entrance is dedicated to families that lost loved ones in the military.

The 350-pound (160-kilogram) gingerbread house in the State Dining Room offers a view of the White House from the South Lawn, with wreaths on every window and a U.S. flag flying from its sugary rooftop.

Jennifer Pickens, an expert on White House East Wing traditions, predicted that Ms Trump's window wreaths will become another tradition that no future first lady will want to end.

“Mrs. Trump's impeccable style is seen in the beautifully understated decorations and give a great nod to the First Families that came before them,” Ms Pickens said.

First Lady Melania Trump in the Grand Foyer of the White house as she tours the decorations

More than 150 volunteers from 29 states spent 1,600 hours over the holiday weekend decking the White House halls. The White House said Mrs. Trump chose every detail of the decor and did a final check late Sunday after returning from the family's Thanksgiving at their estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

The holiday celebrations get underway Monday with a party for the volunteer decorators and will continue into December with receptions and parties — sometimes two a day — for the next several weeks, including a party Friday for the news media. Trump regularly dismisses the media as “fake news,” including in a tweet Monday.

More than 25,000 visitors are expected to tour the White House for the holidays and the kitchen is ready: 31,000 cookies have been baked, including 15,000 sugar cookies, many of which end up in purses for the trip home.

The decor includes 71 wreaths, 53 Christmas trees, more than 18,000 lights, more than 12,000 ornaments, more than 3,100 yards (about 2,800 meters) of ribbon and more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) of garland, the White House said.

During President Barack Obama's final Christmas in office, larger-than-life replicas of family dogs Bo and Sunny greeted visitors in the East Wing. Fifty-six Lego gingerbread houses, one for each state and U.S. territory, were nestled in the branches of the trees that decorated the State Dining Room.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in