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First Lady Michelle Obama began her White House Christmas planning with a very simple idea: to include as many people, in as many places, in as many ways as possible.

In 2009, Mrs. Obama asked 60 local community groups from around the nation to "Reflect, Rejoice, Renew," and redecorate 800 ornaments from previous White House administrations. The ornaments paid tribute to favorite local landmarks including the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, and Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.

In 2010, the White House celebrated "Simple Gifts." The Blue Room Christmas tree was themed, "Gift of the American Spirit," and it featured prize ribbons from state and county fairs from each state and territory. Mrs. Obama also added a "Military Appreciation Tree" to the White House in 2010. Located near the visitor’s entrance, the tree was decorated with glass bulb ornaments representing the five branches of the military and topped with a handmade dove.

The 2011, 2012, and 2013 official White House Christmas trees continued to pay tribute to American troops, veterans and their families. Medals, badges, and patches from all of the military branches adorned the "Shine, Give, Share" Christmas tree in 2011. Military children spread "Joy to All" in 2012 by decorating ornaments in honor of their parents serving in uniform. In 2013, Mrs. Obama chose the theme "Gather Around: Stories of the Season." Military families created greeting cards in the shape of their home states to trim the official Blue Room Christmas tree.

The Obama family pets have also helped to spread holiday spirit each year. In 2013, the White House displayed life sized, moving replicas of dogs Bo and Sunny made of 1,000 yards of satin ribbon.

A team of volunteers decorates the official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room of the White House, Nov. 30, 2009.

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

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, Dec. 5, 2010.

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

President Barack Obama, with First Lady Michelle Obama, delivers remarks at a Christmas holiday reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 13, 2013.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza