White House Christmas Trees Through the Years

The White House Christmas tree has been a tradition since the 1800s. The White House Historical Association, founded in 1961 by first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, provided the photos and corresponding captions.

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White House Historical Association
President Grover Cleveland was one of the first presidents to have a Christmas tree in the White House, according to the White House Historical Association. The tree pictured here was the first White House tree decorated with electric lights.
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White House Historical Association
Visitors to the White House admire a tree in the East Room in 1934, put up during Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidency.
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National Park Service
In this photo from 1953, a Christmas tree sits in the Blue Room during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
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John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In 1961, Jacqueline Kennedy began the tradition of selecting a theme for the official White House Christmas tree. She decorated a tree placed in the oval Blue Room with ornamental toys, birds, and angels inspired by the "Nutcracker Suite" ballet.
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John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In 1962, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy moved the White House Christmas Tree to the Grand Foyer. Themed the "Children's Tree," Kennedy reused many of the ornaments from her 1961 "Nutcracker Suite" tree, as well as brightly wrapped packages, candy canes, gingerbread cookies, and straw ornaments made by disabled or senior citizen craftspeople throughout the United States.
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Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
Pictured here is President Lyndon Johnson adjusting an ornament on the Christmas tree in the Blue Room at a party for underpriviliged children in 1964. Lady Bird Johnson chose a comforting "Early American" theme and decorated the tree with traditional ornaments such as cookies, paper flowers, and strings of berries.
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Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
First Lady Lady Bird Johnson poses in front of an "Early American" themed Blue Room Christmas Tree in December 1965. The 18-foot fir featured 3,000 small ornaments, strands of nuts and candied fruit, popcorn and cranberry garland, and gingerbread cookies in the shape of snowmen, dolls, and teddy bears.
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Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In December 1966, Lady Bird Johnson continued with her "Early American" theme and reused ornaments from last year's trees such as popcorn strings, fruit, wooden roses, and toy soldiers. This same year began the tradition of selecting the Blue Room tree from the winners of the National Christmas Tree Association's Christmas Tree Contest.
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White House Historical Association
In 1969, Patricia Nixon moved the White House Christmas tree to the Grand Foyer. According to the White House Historical Society, Nixon moved the tree "so people going by on Pennsylvania Avenue can see" her American Flowers themed tree.
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Library of Congress
In 1970, first lady Patricia Nixon decorated the tree in hues of blue, green, and gold and reused the velvet and satin balls embellished with the flowers of each state from the year before. She also included gold foil fans, handmade by disabled workers in New York, which became known as the Monroe fans because they were fashioned in the early nineteenth century style, when James Monroe was president.
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White House Historical Association
In this December 1971 photo, first lady Patricia Nixon and her daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower inspect one of the state flower balls from the Blue Room Christmas tree. In addition to the state flower balls, the tree featured gold foil angels made by disabled men and women in New York.
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Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
Patricia Nixon speaks in front of the Blue Rooom Christmas tree in December 1972. Mrs. Nixon's theme for that year was inspired by two paintings in the White House collection, Still Life with Fruit and Nature's Bounty.
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Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In 1973, first lady Patricia Nixon chose a gold motif for the official White House Christmas tree to celebrate President James Monroe, whose 1817 White House renovations included the purchase of gilded furnishings and tableware.
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Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
Susan Ford, daughter of President Gerald Ford, helps Santa Claus give out gifts at a White House Christmas party for staff children in December 1974. The tree was adorned with handmade crafts and patchwork ornaments featured, celebrating a rural American craft tradition.
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Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
The official 1975 White House Christmas tree featured handmade ornaments made from inexpensive, natural materials. First Lady Betty Ford selected the theme "An Old-Fashioned Christmas in America," also referred to as "A Williamsburg Children's Christmas," for the tree that year.
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Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In December 1976, first lady Betty Ford's theme for the Christmas decorations was "The Love that is the Spirit of Christmas," intended to celebrate the charitable Christmas spirit.
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Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
President Jimmy Carter, first lady Rosalynn Carter and their daughter Amy pose for a photograph in front of the Blue Room Christmas tree in December 1977. The decorations that year celebrated a classic American Christmas and featured handmade craft ornaments created by handicapped Americans.
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Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In December 1978, first lady Rosalynn Carter selected a theme of Victorian antique toys for the Christmas décor.
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Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In December 1979, Rosalynn Carter chose to celebrate American folk art, enlisting ten fine arts students at a local school to make over ornaments in the colonial style for the tree.
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Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
These Victorian porcelain dolls appeared on the Blue Room Christmas tree in 1980. First lady Rosalynn Carter selected the old-fashioned Victorian theme for the tree.
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Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan pose for a photograph in front of the Blue Room Christmas tree in 1981. For her first White House Christmas, Mrs. Reagan selected an old-fashioned American Christmas theme.
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Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
Nancy Reagan joins the volunteers decorating the Blue Room Christmas tree in 1982. She selected an all-American, old-fashioned Christmas theme for the decorations.
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Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In 1985, first lady Nancy Reagan celebrated an old-fashioned, turn of the century Christmas at the White House.
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Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
For the 1986 Blue Room Christmas tree, first lady Nancy Reagan selected a Mother Goose motif. The tree featured 100 miniature, soft-sculpture geese, made by White House staff and volunteers from the organization Second Genesis, a drug rehabilitation program.
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Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In December 1988, first lady Nancy Reagan returned to the old-fashioned Christmas theme.
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George Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
This ornament, depicting the popular children's cartoon elephant Babar, appeared on the official 1989 White House Christmas tree. First lady Barbara Bush, a long time literacy advocate and volunteer, selected a storybook theme for the tree.
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George Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In 1990, Barbara Bush selected a "Nutcracker Suite" theme for the tree, decorating it with 45 porcelain dolls representing dancers the classic holiday ballet.
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George Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
Barbara Bush chose a theme of gift givers for the 1992 tree, celebrating the many historic and cultural figures said to visit children and leave them gifts. According to the White House Historical Association, gift givers such as Kris Kringle, the Three Wise Men, and Tsai Sen Yeh adorned the tree, which was topped with a Santa Claus figure.
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William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In 1993, Hillary Clinton selected an angel motif for the official Blue Room Christmas tree.
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William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
For the 1994 Blue Room Christmas tree, Hillary Clinton chose a theme based on the classic Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas." According to the White House Historical Association, the tree featured ornaments made at art schools across the country and served as, in Mrs. Clinton's words, "a testament to the developing talent and artistry of the next generation."
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William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In this December 1995 photograph, president Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton pose in front of the Blue Room Christmas tree before a holiday party. Mrs. Clinton based the decorations for the 1995 tree after the popular 19th century poem "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."
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William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In 1996, Hillary Clinton chose to decorate the tree with ornaments based on the "Nutcracker Suite" ballet, a theme first selected by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961, and again by First Lady Barbara Bush in 1990.
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George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
The official White House Christmas tree of 2001, featured decorations inspired by Laura Bush's theme "Home for the Holidays." According to the White House Historical Association, Mrs. Bush invited each state governor to select artisans to make ornaments representing special local landmarks in shades of white.
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George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA
In 2005, first lady Laura Bush selected the theme "All Things Bright and Beautiful," taken from the name of a children's hymn. The decorations highlighted the beauty of the natural world.
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Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
In 2009, Michelle Obama selected the theme "Reflect, Rejoice, and Renew," asking local community groups to redecorate 800 ornaments from previous administrations. The ornaments featured popular local landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore, according to the White House Historical Association.
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Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama pose in front of the Official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room of the White House in 2010. The decorations had the theme "Simple Gifts," and the tree celebrated the "Gift of the American Spirit." The Douglas fir featured prize ribbons from state and county fairs nationwide.
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White House Historical Association
First Lady Michelle Obama selected the theme "Gather Around" for the 2013 White House Christmas decorations, celebrating beloved American holiday traditions. The tree paid tribute to military families, decorated wtih greeting cards made by children living on military bases.
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White House Historical Association
In 2014, first lady Michelle Obama selected "A Children's Winter Wonderland" as the White House Christmas theme. The tree had a motif celebrating "America the Brave," featuring ornaments made by children living on military bases, as well as thank you cards from children to members of the United States military.
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Carolyn Kaster/AP
The Obama Family's 2015 Christmas tree in the White House's Blue Room presents a patriotic theme, with red, white and blue ornaments roped in by golden stars.
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Alex Wong/Getty Images
The 2016 official White House Christmas Tree sits in the Blue Room of the White House on Nov. 29, 2016. "The Gift of the Holidays" is the theme of the Obama family's last White House Christmas.
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Getty Images
For the Trump family's first official White House Christmas tree, unveiled on Nov. 27, 2017, glass ornaments depict the seals of each state and U.S. territory in the Blue Room.
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
At 18 feet tall, the official White House Christmas is dressed in over 500 feet of blue velvet ribbon embroidered in gold with each state and territory, on display inside the Blue Room at the White House, Nov. 26, 2018, in Washington, D,C. The 2018 theme of the White House holiday decorations is "American Treasures."
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Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The Trumps' third official White House Christmas tree blossoms with handmade paper flowers paying homage to the official flowers of each state and territory, inside the Blue Room on Dec. 2, 2019, in Washington, D.C. First lady Melania Trump unveiled White House decorates set to the theme of the "Spirit of America" for 2019.
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