Christmas at the White House

The White House is spilling over with Christmas trees and decor that honors military families this season.

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First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed children of servicemembers at a special preview event of the White House's Christmas decor on Wednesday. This year's theme is "Shine, Give, Share," and decor involves shiny elements such as stars, quartz and metallics, as well as handmade decorations from guest artists.
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Large Christmas trees line the Cross Hall during the first viewing of the 2011 White House Christmas decorations on Nov. 30. The theme, "Shine, Give, Share," runs throughout the White House, with a 400-pound White House Gingerbread House and 37 Christmas trees, including the official 18-foot 6-inch balsam fir tree in the Blue Room that honors Blue Star military families.
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Guests were treated to holiday cookies -- including a Bo version! -- during the first viewing of the decorations.
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Handcrafted tabletop trees made from recycled aluminum decorate the Green Room.
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Tiny figurines of the first family's dog, Bo, are at each place setting on the dinning table in the China Room. "You've got to find the Bo in every room, because he's hidden everywhere," first lady Michelle Obama told visitors Nov. 30. "So in one room, he's four-and-a-half feet tall and he's made of felt.... And in another room, he's nine-and-a-half inches tall, and he's made of buttons.... So, trust me, our dog has been a little confused walking around the house for the last couple of weeks, seeing himself in gigantic form."
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A 400-pound White House gingerbread house is on display. For snacks, though, guests stuck to cookies.
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A silver vase of flowers decorate a table in front of a Jacob Lawrence painting in the Green Room.
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The official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room honors servicemembers and their families, displaying pictures, medals and patches.
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The official White House Christmas tree arrived by horsedrawn carriage the weekend after Thanksgiving.
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Honoring military families, the 18-foot 6-inch balsam fir tree is decorated with framed military medals and handmade holiday cards created by military children living on installations around the world.
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The White House has another sort of decoration on Dec. 1 -- a giant red ribbon in observance of World AID Day. The president will speak about HIV/AIDS at the George Washington University.
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The White House's Christmas theme in 2011 is "Shine, Give, Share," which encourages individuals to "put their best self forward."
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A small reproduction of the first family's dog, Bo, made from buttons, is on display in the Red Room.
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Large Christmas trees flank the North Portico entrance in the Entrance Hall.
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Children of active duty military servicemembers make handmade cookie Christmas ornaments in the State Dining Room.
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A potted tree surrounded by moss and flowers stands in a window in the East Room.
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During the holiday season, White House visitors will be welcomed to write notes to servicemembers. Visiting Gold Star families (those who have lost a family member) can inscribe a ceramic gold star to adorn the tree, which was decorated by Gold Star families who volunteered their time this holiday season.
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On the East Landing, the Gold Star Families Tree honors those who gave their lives in military service. The decor includes photos of those lost, and messages from their loved ones.
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Holiday garland decorates doorways inside the East Visitor Entrance.
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A gingerbread house and poinsettias decorate a portrait of former first lady Hillary Clinton in the hallway on the ground floor of the White House.
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Gold stars and ribbon hang from the ceiling of the hallway on the ground floor.
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Paper and real Christmas trees stand in front of a large statue of President Abraham Lincoln in the East Garden Room.
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Gold stars and ribbon hang from the ceiling of the hallway on the ground floor. Much of the decor incorporates metallics.
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Large felt wreaths with paper flower cutouts line the windows along the East Garden Room.
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Children of active duty military service members made (and nibbled on) edible cookie Christmas ornaments in the State Dining Room on Nov. 30.
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The China Room is decorated with red and white accents.
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A topiary of the first family's dog, Bo, made from plastic sits in front of the fire place in the Library.
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The Vermeil Room's decor includes a gold- and silver- decorated tabletop tree. There are a total of 37 trees on display at the White House.
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A wire stand displays replicas of Christmas cards sent to the White House over the years in the Library. Some date as far back as the Eisenhower Administration.
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A replica of the White House is made from 400 pounds of gingerbread, white chocolate and marzipan.
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If you're lucky enough to visit during the holiday season, do NOT try to eat the gingerbread. Just a suggestion.
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Handcrafted tabletop trees made from recycled aluminum decorate the Green Room. In keeping with the theme "Shine, Give, Share," much of the White House's decor involves shiny elements such as stars, quartz and metallics.
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First lady Michelle Obama looks at handmade cookie Christmas ornaments made by children of active duty military service members.
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The kids played in the State Dining Room during a press preview for the White House's Christmas decorations on Nov. 30, 2011.
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The White House's theme for Christmas 2011 is "Shine Give, Share." Decor includes a 400-pound White House-styled gingerbread house and 37 Christmas trees, including the official 18-foot, 6-inch balsam fir tree in the Blue Room.
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On Saturday, Nov. 25, the official White House Christmas Tree arrived via horse-drawn carriage.
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The tree, a 19-foot-tall balsam fir, was grown on Schroeder's Forevergreens farm near Neshkoro, Wisc.
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2011 National Christmas Tree Association Grand Champion winners Tom and Sue Schroeder greeted the first lady and Sasha Obama as the Schroeders presented the the official White House Christmas Tree.
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Both first daughters were in attendance to welcome the tree.
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The Schroeders, naturally, had to pause to pet Bo.
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The 19-foot-tall balsam fir can't fit in just any living room. For scale purposes, remember that Michelle Obama is tied with Eleanor Roosevelt as tallest first lady (5'11").
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The official White House Christmas Tree traditionally arrives via horse-drawn carriage.
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