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White House Christmas Ornaments Through the Years

Here's the history behind every official White House Christmas ornament ever made.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Alex Brandon/AP/Shutterstock (10489702p) The official White House Christmas tree is decorated in the Blue Room seen through the Cross Hall, during the 2019 Christmas preview at the White House, in Washington White House Christmas, Washington, USA - 02 Dec 2019Alex Brandon/AP/Shutterstock

A historical holiday

Since 1981, the White House Historical Association has released an official Christmas ornament every year. Each one honors a different president in sequential order or marks a significant historical event. These collectibles are a great way to show your patriotism during the holidays and take a little time out to celebrate American history. Don't miss the most historic first from every U.S. state.

 

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1981: Angel in Flight

First Lady Nancy Regan began the tradition of releasing an official White House Christmas ornament every year. Each one is handmade in Rhode Island by a veteran-owned company. Do you know how many ornaments are on the White House Christmas tree? Learn that and some other facts you never knew about the White House Christmas Tree.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1982: Dove of Peace

The second ornament is a tribute to our first president, George Washington. In addition to being a traditional symbol of Christmas, the design is a miniature replica of the dove of peace weathervane that Washington commissioned for his Mount Vernon Home. Find out 11 surprising facts you never learned about George Washington in school.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1983: The White House

The 1983 ornament honors John Adams, who was the second President of the United States, but the first to live in the White House. The design is of the north facade of the building before the addition of the famed porticos. Find out 12 facts about the White House you may have missed in trivia class.

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

1984: The Jefferson Peace Medal

Honoring its namesake president, the design of this ornament is based on the historic Jefferson peace medal, which was minted in 1801. Jefferson's portrait is on one side of the ornament, while the other side depicts the clasped hands of an American Indian and a soldier, crowned by a pipe of peace and tomahawk.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1985: Madison Silhouettes

This ornament features the silhouettes of James Madison and his wife, Dolley Madison. The First Lady is famous for saving a portrait of Washington's family when the British burned the White House in 1814. Dolley Madison isn't the only First Lady to demonstrate extraordinary bravery. Here are 44 facts about America's First Ladies you didn't know.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1986: The South Portico

The 1986 ornament commemorates James Monroe. It shows the south front of the building as it looked during the 1824 holiday season. The semi-circle portico was built the previous year.

 

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1987: White House Doors

In 1987, the White House Doors ornament honored John Quincy Adams. An avid gardener, he planted a variety of different trees on the grounds, as represented by the evergreen wreaths and red poinsettias.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1988: The President's Children

This ornament represents the children of Andrew Jackson. According to the Library of Congress, Jackson adopted, cared for, or was guardian to many children throughout his life, but had no biological children of his own. Find out 52 more astonishing facts you never knew about U.S. presidents.

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

1989: The Bicentennial of the Presidency

The 1989 ornament commemorates the 200th anniversary of the presidency with the official presidential seal. This seal decorates the platform whenever a president makes a public appearance or speaks. Think you know a lot about the president? Here are presidential trivia questions that everyone gets wrong.

 

 

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1990: The Blue Room

The Blue Room ornament is a tribute to Martin Van Buren. When Congress gave President Van Buren funds to renovate the White House, he had the oval parlor painted blue and it has stayed that color ever since. Find out the real reason the White House is white.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1991: White Charger

The 1991 ornament honors William Henry Harrison, who mounted a white charger (aka a horse) en route to the Capital to take his official oath of office. He passed away just 32 days later.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1992: Bicentennial of White House Cornerstone

One face of this ornament features the text on the White House's first cornerstone. The other side is a reproduction of an 1848 lithograph of the building's north side, which is based on a watercolor painting by artist August Kollner.

 

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

1993: May and September

The 1993 ornament is a tribute to John Tyler. He was the first president to get married while in office. His second wife, Julia Gardiner Tyler was 30 years his junior. Here's how ten presidents met their wives.

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

1994: Imperial Christmas

Honoring James K. Polk, this cameo ornament features an illustration of the president and his wife on the South Lawn as the United States Marine Band plays.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1995: A Patriotic Christmas

The 1995 ornament is dedicated to the 12th president, Zachary Taylor. The design is inspired by the July 4th, 1980 events attended by the president at the Washingon Monument. Don't miss these 15 interesting facts about the Washington Monument.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1996: The Presidential Seal

This ornament honors the 13th president, Millard Fillmore, who sketched the seal himself along with an image of the White House's North Portico.

 

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

1997: The White House Grounds

The design of this 1997 ornament was inspired by President Franklin Pierce's renovations and redecoration of the White House. Presidents and their families aren't the only residents of the White House. Here are the most famous first pets.

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

1998: The American Bald Eagle and Shield

The eagle and shield on this 1998 ornament first appeared on the glassware President Andrew Jackson commissioned for the White House in 1829. The ornament commemorates James Buchanan, who was the last president to use that pattern.

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

1999: Portrait of President Abraham Lincoln

Honoring the 16th President of the United States, this ornament is a replica of his official White House Portrait. The frame surrounding the portrait was inspired by a Civil War-era frame from the White House collection. Did you know that there is a typo on the Lincoln Memorial?

 

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

2000: 200th Anniversary of the White House

This ornament is made of stone from the same Aquia quarry sourced to construct the White House itself, depicting the north and south facades. Find out 11 strange things that presidents have banned from the White House.

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

2001: A First Family's Carriage Ride

The charming 2001 official White House ornament is a replica of the horse-drawn carriage often used by President Andrew Johnson. It was one of his favorite things to do with his family. These are the 20 rules every First Family is supposed to follow.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

2002: The East Room in 1902

Inspired by the East Room Glass chandeliers, the 2002 ornament includes a holiday ribbon, acanthus leaves from the East Room's Louis XVI style wall panels, and a sturdy eagle, as a tribute to the decor in the room.

 

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

2003: Child's Rocking Horse

This ornament honors President Ulysses S. Grant and his family. The design is inspired by toys that were sold at a fancy goods store in Washington, D.C. during his administration.

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

2004: A First Family's Sleigh Ride

A tribute to Rutherford B. Hayes, the 2004 ornament depicts the president's favorite season and family activity on the North Lawn of the White House.

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

2005: The South Facade

The 2005 ornament is a tribute to James A. Garfield, who was shot and died before the end of the first year of his term. The design of the collectible is a reflection of the 20th president's personal style, with his monogram featured at the bottom center portion of the wreath.

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

2006: Tiffany Glass in the White House

This beautiful ornament honors President Chester A. Arthur, who assumed office just six months after serving as vice president to James A. Garfield. The Tiffany-inspired glass represents an upturn in the nation's economy as a result of his presidency that began in 1881.

 

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

2007: A President Marries in the White House

The 2007 ornament honors 22nd President Grover Cleveland. In 1886, the then 49-year old bachelor married 21-year old Frances Folsom. He was the only U.S. president to serve two non-consecutive terms. Want to travel like a president? Here are some of the most luxurious presidential suites in the world.

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

2008: A Victorian Christmas Tree

This ornament is dedicated to President Benjamin Harrison who famously said, "We shall have an old-fashioned Christmas Tree for the grandchildren upstairs, and I shall be their Santa Claus myself." Find out the 25 things your mall Santa won't tell you.

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

2009: First Electric Christmas Lights

The 2009 ornament depicts the first electric Christmas lights in the Whtie House. With a hologram that shows the south facade during the snowfall, it is a tribute to President Cleveland's holiday celebrations. Find out some of the best small towns for Christmas lights across the United States.

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

2010: U.S. Marine Band

The 2010 ornament shows the Marine band playing during the administration of President William McKinley, who was the 25th President of the United States. Music plays an important role in many White House traditions to this day.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

2011: Santa Visits the White House

This ornament represents the excitement associated with the first family's first White House Christmas, during Roosevelt's administration. It depicts Santa Claus on the North Lawn announcing "I hear that there are some kids in the White House this year." When did you learn Santa wasn't real? Here are 20 ways some kids learned the cold, hard truth.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

2012: First Presidential Automobile

This ornament honors President William Howard Taft who was the first president to officially use an automobile in 1909, ending the long tradition of horse-drawn carriages. He and his wife Nellie are depicted as being driven by their chauffeur George H. Robinson. These are some current White House jobs you may have no idea even existed.

110 West 80 St-4R, NY, NY 10024 212 874 3879courtesy White House Historical Association

2013: The American Elm Tree

The 2013 ornament commemorates Woodrow Wilson, who planted an American Elm tree on the North Lawn shortly before Christmas in 1913. See if you can guess the official bird of all 50 states.

 

ornamentcourtesy White House Historical Association

2014: Voyage of Understanding

The 2014 ornament is a tribute to Warren G. Harding, who wanted to be an engineer as a young boy. While president, he took over the control of the Alaskan railroad for several hours during the "Voyage of Understanding."

This image is the Back view (with string) of the 2015 White House Christmas Ornament that honors the administration of Calvin Coolidge, who served as the 30th President of the United States from 1923 to 1929. A depiction of the first National Christmas tree, it features ornaments representing the events of Coolidge's life and presidency. On Christmas Eve in 1923 President Coolidge lit strings of more than 2,500 electric bulbs on the first National Christmas Tree, an annual tradition that continues to this day. In honor of this, the ornament illuminates from a light inside the tree.courtesy White House Historical Association

2015: First Lighting of the Christmas Tree

The 2015 ornament depicts President Coolidge's lighting of the first White House Christmas tree. The ceremony took place on Christmas Eve 1923. Looking for a Christmas tree of your own? Here's how to pick the perfect one!

This image is the 3-Quarter Left view (with string) of the 2016 White House Christmas Ornament that honors President Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States who was in office from 1929 to 1933. Inspired by the fire engines that responded to a 1929 Christmas Eve fire at the White House, the ornament also honors the toy trucks that were presented to children by the Hoovers' the following Christmas.courtesy White House Historical Association

2016: Herbert Hoover and the West Wing Fire in 1929

The 2016 ornament honors Herbert Hoover, the 31st U.S. president. The design is inspired by the fire trucks that responded to the 1929 Christmas Eve fire during his administration.

 

This image is of the 2017 White House Christmas Ornament honoring Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States. The ornament was inspired by the eagle cartouche adorning the speaker's stand at President Roosevelt's first inauguration in 1933. The 2017 ornament was the 37th annual ornament presented by the White House Historical Association.courtesy White House Historical Association

2017: Honoring Franklin D. Roosevelt

The 2017 ornament commemorates the administration of 32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The eagle cartouche is a replica of the one on the speaker's stand at his first inauguration. As the enactor of the New Deal and president during World War II, FDR left his mark on the world—here are legacies of some other noteworthy presidents.

The White House Historical Association’s 2018 White House Christmas Ornament honors the 33rd president, Harry S. Truman. The ornament illustrates significant changes made to the White House during Truman’s administration, including his celebrated Truman Balcony, added in 1947–48 to the South Portico. The reverse side features his renovated Blue Room, which, like all the rooms of the house, was dismantled and rebuilt during the renovation of 1948–52. The Presidential Seal featured at the top of the ornament reflects the design as changed by Truman. Originally the American eagle looked toward its left talons, which hold a cluster of spears, weapons of war. Truman had the seal redesigned, turning the eagle’s head away from the spears to its right talons, which hold the olive branches of peace.courtesy White House Historical Association

2018: Harry S. Truman's White House and Seal

The 2018 ornament depicts the changes the 33rd president made to the seal as well as his renovations to the White House. The change to the seal was small but symbolic—the American eagle was originally looking to its left talons which hold a cluster of spears; Truman had it redesigned in 1945 to have the eagle look toward its right talons which holds olive branches, the universal symbol of peace. As for the changes to the White House, Truman added a balcony to the South Portico; it came to be known as the Truman Balcony and is seen on the front of the ornament. The other side features the renovated Blue Room, which was rebuilt during the renovation of 1948 to 1952. Find out 10 things no U.S. president is allowed to do while in office.

The White House Historical Association’s 2019 Official White House Christmas Ornament honors Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th president of the United States. The design of the 2019 ornament follows President Eisenhower’s example of fairness: as the first president to regularly use a helicopter, he had two Executive Flight Detachments for his transport provided by flight crews of the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps. To demonstrate his impartiality, Eisenhower alternated between these helicopters and their respective military personnel. Likewise the 2019 ornament does not represent a single branch of the military. One side features the Presidential Seal, representing Eisenhower’s two terms as commander in chief of the Armed Forces. On the other is his five-star rank, honoring his military service as a general in the United States Army. The 39th Official White House Christmas Ornament is American-made by a veteran-owned company and continues the tradition of honoring U.S. presidents in sequential order. The sale of every ornament supports the Association’s mission to preserve, protect, and provide public access to the White House and educate the public on its history.courtesy White House Historical Association

2019: White House Helicopter

It wasn't an accident that the White House Historical Association picked a helicopter to honor Eisenhower for this year's ornament; in 1957 he was the first sitting president to regularly travel by one. One side of the helicopter features the Presidential Seal, a representation of Eisenhower's two terms as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces and the other side shows his five-star rank, a tribute to his service as a general in the United States Army. Find out 12 things you never knew about the White House Christmas tree.