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A White House Christmas Tradition: The Cranberry Tree

The cranberry tree in the Red Room has been a favorite holiday tradition at the White House since 1975 when Christine Heineman created the first tree. Jennie Lewis, who assisted in the White House floral shop from 1998 to 2009, remembers how she and Myrtle Elmore carefully glued each fresh cranberry on a moss-covered Styrofoam cone. These glossy cranberry trees were especially admired by First Lady Nancy Reagan, who loved the color red. Each year, two trees are made because cranberries begin to soften over time at room temperature. It can take more then 200 cranberries to cover a single tree. For our White House Gingerbread: Holiday Traditions exhibition, Jennie Lewis handcrafted a fresh cranberry tree in the same style she used during her years at the White House.

White House Historical Association