Celebrity Homes: Christmas at White House Through the Years – It all started in December 1800, when President John Adams decided to throw a Christmas party for his 4-year-old granddaughter. In 1834 Andrew Jackson’s holiday event included an indoor “snowball” fight with large cotton balls. Much later, the soirees and games evolved into embellishing the various rooms of the White House with festive flora: The first Christmas tree was set up in the Yellow Oval Room during the Benjamin Harrison administration, and the first electric lights were placed on the presidential tree in 1894 while Grover Cleveland was in office.
Teddy Roosevelt, however, being the staunch conservationist that he was, never allowed a tree while he was in charge. The idea of celebrating the holidays within the walls of the White House goes back a long time, but it wasn’t until Jackie Kennedy that the tradition of choosing a theme for the official tree in the Blue Room began.
Her theme was the Nutcracker, and since that December in 1961, all first ladies, whether Pat Nixon or Hillary Clinton, have chosen their own signature themes. Last year, Michelle Obama chosed the theme Timeless Traditions, and has commissioned three fashion designers, along with her go-to event designer, Bryan Rafanelli, to design their own rooms for the holiday— Carolina Herrera, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony, and Duro Olowu were each given a space to decorate.
While we admire these talents and their new points of view for the White House Christmas celebration, it’s also a time to remember those who came before, and those who perhaps inspired them. Here are 27 of the most endearing moments of presidential holiday cheer through history.
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