December 18, 2006
Seasons greetings to everyone and thanks for sending your questions. Christmas is a busy and joyful time in the White House Social Office. The President and Mrs. Bush have extended holiday invitations to over 10,000 people for 24 parties over a period of 20 days. They personally greet and take photographs with all their guests, wishing them the best for the coming new year. We have been assembling lists, taking rsvps, and sending out the photographs taken at the parties at a rapid pace. Now, on to your questions...
Ron, from Denton, TX
What is your favorite part about the holidays at the White House? Hope
you have a Merry Christmas
Thank you, Ron. I hope you have a happy Christmas also. My favorite part of the holidays (and any other time of year) at the White House is watching the reactions of people who have never been to the White House before, as they enter the State Floor. Some people stop and stare in awe, and others are gleeful, but many become emotional as they feel the sense of history here. It is an intensely joyful and patriotic moment for many people.
Ruth, from Iowa writes:
Lea, How many Cristmas trees are put up in the White House during the
holiday season? Thank you
The number of Christmas trees in the White House varies from year to year, depending upon the decorations, however this year there are 8 evergreen trees and one tree made entirely of red glass ornaments. The largest tree is found in the Blue Room.
Jim, from Jacksonville, FL
I am trying to find out information about visiting the White House
Christmas 2007. My wife's favorite holiday is the Christmas season and
would love to see the White House decorated. Who do I contact to get
You can arrange a public tour of the White House holiday decorations by submitting a request through your Member of Congress. Although the tours are already booked for this year, I encourage you to submit your request early for next year, as the Visitors Office fills the available spaces very quickly. Requests may be submitted up to six months in advance. For more information, you can go to www.whitehouse.gov/history/tours.
James, from Salt Lake City, UT writes:
I used to live in the Washington DC area and a friend collected the
annual White House Christmas ornament. I think he got them by visiting
at the White House. Is there a way to purchase these on-line?
The White House Historical Association sells the White House ornaments on their website at www.whitehousehistory.org. They not only sell the 2006 ornament, but you can also purchase ornaments from past years, as well.
Sandy, from Paramus, NJ
In past years I have seen on C-SPAN a Chanukah lighting ceremony in
White House and was wondering if and when it will be this year.
Sandy, there is a Hanukkah celebration each year at the White House - and as it happens, it is tonight - Dec. 18th. There is a menorah-lighting ceremony prior to the reception, and this fourth night of Hanukkah will be marked at the White House by Ariel Cohen, a 14-year old young woman from Virginia, whom Mrs. Bush met while visiting the National Childrens Medical Center last year.
There will be a performance by the University of Indiana's Hillel A Capella group, and then the doors of the East Entrance will be thrown open to welcome 600 guests for the Hanukkah reception. The food provided at the reception is all kosher; earlier today Mrs. Bush visited the White House kitchen as it was prepared to receive the specially-catered meal.
Emily, from Missouri writes:
Does the President's private residence get decorated for the holidays?
so, who does it, white house staff or the first family?
Yes, the private residence is decorated for the holidays each year. The Yellow Oval Room is graced with a beautiful tree decorated with family ornaments. There are stockings hanging from the fireplace, and white poinsettias and fresh lemonleaf garland throughout the Residence. The residence is decorated by the White House florists, in consultation with Mrs. Bush.
Cynthia, from Sacramento, CA
May I send a Christmas Card to the President and his wife?
Cynthia, you can send your cards to the President and Mrs. Bush at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington DC, 20502, and if you do, you will be in good company! They receive thousands of holiday greetings at this time of year and the White House Correspondence Office relies on its helpful army of volunteers to sort and open the cards.
Catherine, from Dallas, TX
What day, channel, and time will Barney's Extravaganza be on TV -- I
really enjoy his little program each year. Thank you.
You can watch Barney Cam any time on the "Holidays at the White House" section of the White House website at: www.whitehouse.gov/holiday/2006. It is always a treat for White House staff and visitors to see Barney and Miss Beazley as the dogs make their rounds each day they visit the East and West Wing, can be found snoozing in the Diplomatic Reception Room or playing with a ball on the South Lawn. Their antics can be seen in this years Barney Cam: "Barney's Holiday Extravaganza" - a very popular location on the White House website.
Liz, from Richmond, Va.
Are there any holiday parties or events held at the White House
specifically for troops or the families of those serving in the
military? Thank you.
A number of our troops and their families have been invited to the White House parties. This year all the guests at the Childrens Christmas Program were children of deployed troops. They attended a performance of the Kennedy Centers Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in the East Room. Each child brought along a parent many of whom also serve in our military. Following the performance they enjoyed a party in the State Dining Room and visited with Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.
Members of our military are included in all the other White House parties, from the first party of the season to the last. We are very fortunate to have the Presidents Own, the Marine Band, to perform for our guests throughout the holiday season, as well as musicians from other branches of the service who bring holiday music to all the receptions and dinners.
Penny, from Fyffe, Alabama
What does the White House do with all those beautiful Christmas
decorations when Christmas is over?
As with most American families, when Christmas is over the decorations are packed away to be used another year. The decorations are catalogued and stored off-site. Then when we begin to plan for the following Christmas season we "go into the attic" and see what can be re-used. The lights and artificial garlands that are on display now have been used before, as have many of the red ornaments that were the basis for our red-themed decorations. There is a 10-foot glowing red tree made entirely of red glass ornaments of many different sizes all of which had been used in past years. You could say it is Christmas recycling!
Brooke, from Dallas, TX
Who gets to come to the White House for Christmas festivities?
People come from all over the United States for the holiday festivities at the White House. Our guests are all ages and represent all walks of life. Some guests are people whom the President and Mrs. Bush met earlier in the year in their travels around the country, some are friends and family members of the President and Mrs. Bush, or Members of Congress, others are singers and entertainers and reporters. The spirit of hospitality is reflected in the theme of this holiday season at the White House, "Deck the Halls and Welcome All."
It's almost time for the menorah lighting, so I am headed to the State Floor to be ready to greet our guests. I wish you all a very happy holiday season and a blessed new year.