Christmas

The White House Christmas decorations... plus, Melania Trump's festive looks through the years

The First Lady has had some dramatic decor over her four years in The White House - we check out her decor and look back at the festive looks she's chosen for the Presidential Palace

White-House-Christmas
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Every year, one of the The First Lady's official tasks is to lead a team in decorating The White House for Christmas 2020. Weeks of planning and decorating with White House Staff and volunteers eventually leads to the official reveal, right after Thanksgiving.

The tradition of decorating using specific looks each Christmas dates back to 1961 when First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy tied the decor around a Nutcracker theme. Since then, themes over the years have varied from 'T'was the Night Before Christmas', 'Home for the Holidays', 'Santa's Workshop' and 'A Season of Stories' to name but a few.

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Revealed this week, in her fourth and last Christmas at The White House, Melania Trump has picked the theme 'America the Beautiful' with which to decorate the People's House and she officially unveiled it to the press this week.

While the exterior of the building is simply decorated, as it is every year, with plain green wreaths fastened with red ribbons. Inside, the presidential rooms and halls have been decorated in a classic, timeless style. 

Ornate baubles and fresh flowers in shades of red, green, and gold, together with twinkling lights and delicate handmade ornaments hang from every space, with the decor also incorporating the official trees of each state and territory.

In previous years, some of her decorative choices have been rather striking, breaking with a traditional festive look and receiving quite mixed reviews. 

In 2018, bold crimson red topiary trees made from berries lined the East Colonnade were considered by some to be too dramatic, while the Narnia-like bare winter branches from the previous year were criticised as appearing overly cold. 

Previous First Ladies have also come under fire for their decor, with Nancy Reagan famously celebrating her 'Happy Holidays' theme and receiving a backlash for not omitting the word 'Christmas'. 

However, this year's return to a more traditional choice of decor seems to be a much safer option for the First Lady, with a variety of trees dotted throughout the building decorated with stories that celebrate the nation - from the varied modes of transport used to cross the US to the rich, native wildlife, using a variety of decorations created by students across the country.

Regarding the source of her theme this year, the First Lady says: 'Over the past four years I have had the honor to travel to some of our nation’s most beautiful landmarks and meet some of the most compassionate and patriotic American citizens.'

'From coast to coast,' she continues, 'the bond that all Americans share is an appreciation for our traditions, values, and history, which were the inspiration behind the decorations this year. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.'

Ginevra Benedetti
Ginevra Benedetti

Hello there, I’m Ginevra Benedetti, 

Associate Editor on the Homes Content Team at Future. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been writing about interiors for the past 16 years on the majority of Britain’s monthly interiors titles, such as Ideal Home, Country Homes & Interiors and Style at Home, as well as Livingetc and of course, Homes & Gardens

This naturally feeds into writing for wonderful websites like HomesandGardens.com and IdealHome.co.uk.


Over the years, I’ve interviewed some of the most talented designers in the business and I’ve pretty much written about every area of the home, from shopping and decorating, appliances and home tech, wallpaper and fabric, kitchens and bathrooms, even extensions and conversions.  

I never tire about reading or writing about interiors, from classic timeless designs to innovative smart tech - the subject is always evolving, just as our homes do, year after year.