Christmas Celebrations at the White House
- Nineteenth century White House Christmas celebrations were not grand state affairs but usually simple family events. The first family decorated the house with greens and there were celebrations on the holiday. The first White House Christmas party was held in December 1800. President and Mrs. Adams gave it for their four-year-old granddaughter Suzannah, who was living with them. The Adams invited the children of "official" Washington to the party. The first Christmas tree in the White House was placed in the second floor Yellow Oval Room (then used as a family parlor and library) in 1889 (Benjamin Harrison administration). It was decorated with candles, toys, etc. for the Harrison grandchildren. The first electric lights on a family tree were used in 1894 during the presidency of Grover Cleveland. (Electricity dates to 1891 in the White House).
- The Taft children placed the first tree on the State floor in the Blue Room. The Wilsons continued to have a tree in the Blue Room.
- President Calvin Coolidge was the first chief executive to preside over the National Christmas tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in 1923.
- The record for the number of trees in the White House was held for many years by the Eisenhower administration when 26 trees filled every floor of the house. That mark has been eclipsed on several occasions in recent times, including the Clinton administration's 36 trees in the 1997 theme of "Santa's Workshop," and the 2008 White House Christmas decorations of the Bush administration that included 27 trees as part of a theme of "A Red, White and Blue Christmas."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt always read Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol to his family on Christmas Eve.
- Beginning in 1961, in the Kennedy administration, themes have been selected for the Blue Room tree. That year was decorated with objects depicting characters and toys from the "Nutcracker Suite" ballet.
- Since 1966, the National Christmas Tree Association has held a competition for the White House Blue Room tree.