White House Christmas Ornaments Through the Years
Here's the history behind every official White House Christmas ornament ever made.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.