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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Anita McBride
Anita McBride
Assistant to President George W. Bush and Chief of Staff to First Lady Laura Bush

December 18, 2007

Anita McBride
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone! Thank you for joining me. I'm Anita McBride and I serve as Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to Mrs. Bush. At this special time of year the White House, like homes all across America, is decorated to celebrate the season. I'm pleased to share with you the story of this year's theme, "Holiday in the National Parks." The decorations highlight some of America's treasures, our national parks. I look forward to answering your questions today about Christmas at the White House.

Pam, from Ashville NC writes:
I am a native of Texas now living in North Carolina. While the President was Govener of Texas Mrs Bush chose a theme for the Govener's residence that included replicias of the old Spanish Missions of Texas. I saw on HGTV's White House Christmas tour that the five Spanish Missions of San Antonio where included in this years theme. Are instructions and building plans available to the public for those Missions? I am a lover of old churchs and especially those. Thank you for your kind attention to this request. Sincerly, Pam

Anita McBride
Thanks, Pam. Mrs. Bush was thrilled to be able to highlight the five Texas missions of San Antonio Missions National Park here at the White House, just as she did at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin. The White House carpenters and artists in the Flower Shop who re-created the missions did a wonderful job. The models are made of wood, spackle, and acrylic paint. The plans were designed after researching photographs and drawings of the missions.

Kevin, from Ontario Canada writes:
Hello AnitaHow does the White House decide what Christmas theme to have each year, and has a Christmas Theme ever been repeated over the years.

Thanks, and Merry Christmas.

Anita McBride
Kevin, thank you for your question. Mrs. Bush meets with the Chief Florist at the White House and discusses themes for Christmas. Because The President announced the Centennial Challenge for the National Parks and because Mrs. Bush loves to hike in the National Parks, she decided that this would be the perfect theme this year. And no, we have not yet repeated a theme that was used before.

Eric, from Maryland writes:
I was asked when the holiday decorations come down at the White House. I have a tour or the premises slated for Jan 3rd in the morning. Will the decorations still be up after the New Year? Thanks.

Anita McBride
Eric, thanks for your question. The White House Christmas decorations will be on display through Friday, December 28, 2007. Although the Christmas decorations won’t be up when you visit, you can see them year-round by visiting /holiday/2007/. While you are visiting the website, be sure to check out a holiday favorite, BarneyCam 2007. I hope you enjoy your tour.

Barbara, from Staten Island, NY writes:
What happens to all the new Christmas decorations that are newly made each year. Ex. The National Parks ball decorations. Are they sold, stored away? Thank you.

Anita McBride
Barbara, to answer your and David's question, the National Park ornaments on the Blue Room Tree are not for sale. The official 2007 White House Christmas ornament, however, can be purchased through the White House Historical Association by visiting

Jerry, from Garnet Valley, PA writes:
Besides Camp David and their Crawford Ranch, what National Park would the President and First Lady consider for a "camping trip" or getaway ?

Anita McBride
Jerry, as beautiful as they are, neither Camp David nor the Bush's Crawford ranch are national parks. Mrs. Bush enjoys hiking in the national parks and some of her favorites are the Grand Canyon and Zion - both of which are featured in the decorations this year. And, of course, both the President and Mrs. Bush live in a national park - the White House!

Jim, from Walton Hills, Ohio writes:
Is the private residence decorated any different than the main areas of the White House?

Anita McBride
Jim, like many families, the President and Mrs. Bush have collected ornaments and special decorations that they use each Christmas season in their home, including hanging Christmas stockings that they have had since they were children.

Arlene, from Alberta ,Canada writes:
I, first of all, just wanted to say how much I enjoy the holdiay "Barney Cams" that come out each year. I love seeing the Whitehouse and its decorations. I recently did a holiday where I visited 10 National Parks. The US is awesome in its beauty I love the theme for Christmas this year.

I am wondering how many National Parks President Bush and Mrs. Bush have been to in their travels?? And which would be a favorite?

Merry Christmas

Anita McBride
Arlene, I am so glad to hear that you enjoy BarneyCam. The President and Mrs. Bush agree with you that our country is beautiful and they are thrilled to use this holiday season to highlight our national treasures. The President and Mrs. Bush have been to numerous national parks. In fact, Mrs. Bush hikes in a national park every year with a group of girlfriends. As I told Jerry, some of her favorites are Grand Canyon and Zion - both of which are featured in the decorations this year.

Alice, from Maryland writes:
Hi, I would love to see a picture of each of the National Park Christmas tree ornaments that were sent from each park for the White House tree. Is this possible to see on this web site? If not, is there another way to see them? Thanks for your assistance with this.Sincerely, Alice

Anita McBride
Alice, thanks for asking about the Christmas tree ornaments. As you mentioned, the ornaments on the official White House Christmas tree represent America’s National Parks. Each of the 349 hand-made ornaments is posted to the White House website at /holiday/2007/. Click “Holiday in the National Parks Ornaments Slideshow” on the right-hand side.

Becky, from Emerald Isle, NC writes:
Last year my friends and I enjoyed watching the White House being decorated on t.v. We are wondering if and when that will be shown this year.

Anita McBride
Becky, I’m so glad you enjoy watching the White House being decorated on television. You can watch video of Mrs. Bush accepting the official White House Christmas tree and previewing the Christmas decorations by visiting /holiday/2007/ and clicking on the video links on the right-hand side. Additionally, HGTV’s special on the White House Christmas decorations will air on Christmas Day, so check your local listing and be sure to tune in.

Joyce, from Singapore writes:
Greetings May I know how many visitors are expected to visit the White House this holiday season? When did you start the planning and preparations for these activities? Along the way, what are some of the difficulties you faced? Cheers and Merry Christmas )

Anita McBride
Joyce, we expect 60,000 visitors to tour the White House this holiday season. Public tours of the White House are available for groups of 10 or more people. Requests must be submitted through one's Member of Congress. You can find more information by visiting

Mrs. Bush begins planning for Christmas each spring. The biggest challenge this year was deciding how to represent the parks – they are so unique and beautiful. The Blue Room tree pays tribute to the National Parks, and replicas of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the San Antonio Missions, and the Statue of Liberty, found throughout the house, are special reminders of those beautiful places.

Anita McBride
Thanks for joining me today and for asking so many great questions. I encourage you to visit /holiday/2007/ to learn more about the 2007 Christmas theme, "Holiday in the National Parks."

Happy holidays!