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The White House Christmas tree has arrived – we look back at the best Presidential holiday themes from over the years

It's Christmas time at the White House!

white house christmas
(Image credit: Getty Images / Future)

In the storied history of the White House's design, perhaps no time is as beautiful as around the holidays. The arrival of the White House Christmas tree signals the start of the season, and many look forward to it each year. Finally, on Wednesday, the 20-foot tree landed at the Presidential Home, and we're so excited to see what Joe and Jill Biden do with the decor. 

The Christmas decor in the White House acts as inspiration for the entire American public, and the Christmas tree decor is the center of it. Since the 1960s, American First Ladies have chosen a theme for the tree and picked decor that centers around the concept. We browsed the last 60 years of White House Christmas trees and landed on these three as our favorites.

1. John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy's 1961 'Nutcracker' Themed Tree

kennedy christmas tree

(Image credit: Getty)

This beautiful tree gets as many points for its decor as its story: Jackie Kennedy was the first First Lady to choose a Christmas Tree theme, according to the White House Historical Association. The tree was themed 'Nutcracker' based on Petr Tchaikovsky's ballet. The festive tree included ornamental toys, birds, angels, and straw ornaments created by disabled and elderly craftspeople throughout the United States.

2. The Clinton Christmas 'Santa's Workshop' Tree in 1997

clinton christmas tree

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Hilary Clinton's red and green 1997 tree invokes an air of Christmas tradition. The 18.5-foot Frasier fir tree took on a 'Santa's Workshop' theme under the former first lady's direction. Cross-stiched ornaments from the National Needlework Association, pieces from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and American glass artisan ornaments adorned the beautiful tree.

3. The Obama's 2009 Eco-Friendly 'Reflect, Rejoice, and Renew' tree

obama christmas tree

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This purpose-focused tree is just as beautiful as it is impactful with its modern Christmas decor. Michelle Obama's first White House Christmas tree introduced a 'Reflect, Rejoice, and Renew' theme focused on sustainability. 

Its yellow and blue theme provided an unexpected color scheme, and several aspects of the tree revolved around eco-friendly design. First, decorators used ornaments left over from previous administrations, remade by community groups throughout the country. Furthermore, it uses energy-saving LED bulbs. Best of all, after the holidays were over, six of the trees on display at the White House were replanted by the National Parks Service. 


Sometimes, inspiration comes in the least expected of places. This year, if you're stuck on decor ideas. from minimalist Christmas decor to maximalist Christmas decor, the White House can provide some much-needed ideas.

Sophie Edwards
News Writer

I am a London-based News Writer at Homes & Gardens. My interests lie at the intersection of design and popular culture with a particular focus on trends and celebrity homes. Before joining Future, I worked as a Content Writer and Communications Lead for Fig Linens and Home, a luxury linens and home interiors brand based in Fairfield County, CT. I have a BA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College in New York and an MSc from the Oxford University Department of Anthropology.