The First Lady selects the annual theme
Courtesy Knudsen Robert L. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum Selecting the decor of the White House during the Christmas season begins with the First Lady, a tradition that started with First Lady Jaqueline Kennedy in 1961. (She chose a “Nutcracker Suite” theme.) “[Kennedy’s] theme made a statement that was personal and meaningful; it was both fully representative of her elegant taste and articulated a uniquely American sense of style,” Laura Dowling wrote in her book, A White House Christmas. “Jackie Kennedy’s move opened up the door for every First Lady to put her own creative and personal stamp on the iconic White House Christmas.” Find out more fascinating facts about all of America’s First Ladies.
It takes a year to plan—and five days to execute
Courtesy Chuck Kennedy Official White House Photo Believe it or not, it takes an entire year to plan the White House decorations. The process requires a lot of planning with sketches, different color palettes, design elements, and motifs for each space and room in the White House. Planning is also divided into three phases: design and development, creation and implementation, and project installation. Once concepts are pitched and presented to the First Lady, she then confirms the theme for the year, and the White House florist executes it within five days after Thanksgiving. “White House Christmas themes need to be both inspirational and practical, encompass concepts that capture a sense of the American spirit and resonate broadly—and they must translate into beautiful decorations that tell a cohesive story room by room,” says Dowling. “The best themes always coordinate well with the classical White House architecture and furnishings, are cognizant of White House traditions, and take into account the context of the current political and cultural environments.” We love these creative Christmas tree decorations, ourselves.