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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.

      Holidays at the White House 2006

Sara Armstrong
Director, White House Visitor's Office
December 12, 2006

Sara Armstrong
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone and thank you for joining me! My name is Sara Armstrong, and I’m the Director of the White House Visitors Office. I’m delighted to take your questions today about the holiday season at the White House. During December, we’ll welcome more than 45,000 visitors to the White House for tours of the beautiful decorations. The White House staff has been busy for months planning for the holidays, and we are pleased to share the end result with our visitors.

Pat, from Florence, KY writes:
Is the White House open for the public to visit during the holiday season?

Sara Armstrong
Hi Pat. Yes, we have many visitors who wish to see the White House decorated during the holidays and public tours are available. White House tours are conducted Tuesday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Although the tours for this December are already booked, I encourage you to submit a request for next year. Requests must be submitted through one’s Member of Congress and are accepted up to six months in advance. You can find more information here

Kathleen, from Archbishop McCarthy High School writes:
How can my high school choir be scheduled to sing at a White House event or holiday function?

Sara Armstrong
Kathleen, we have a number of musical groups from all over the country come to perform during December. You can contact the White House Visitors Office during the summer or fall to receive an application. Decisions are made in October for the holiday performances. Here is a list of who is performing this year.

jessica, from alabama writes:
how tall is the tree in The White House

Sara Armstrong
This year’s official Christmas tree is an 18-foot, 6-inch Douglas fir and is on display in the Blue Room of the White House throughout the holiday season. It was presented to the President and Mrs. Bush by the Botek family of Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Lehighton, PA. There are some wonderful pictures of the presentation and the fully decorated tree at

JoAn, from NA writes:
Are the ornaments available for sale to the public. I am interested in a (I think) glass either snow flake or snow flake. I saw the program last evening and thougt the ornaments and progrma were lovely. I collect different types ornaments. Thanks, JoAn

Sara Armstrong
Hi JoAn. The ornaments you mentioned are not for sale, however, you can purchase the official White House ornament from the White House Historical Association. They have a wonderful new design every year and are great to collect or give as gifts. You can purchase one by visiting their website at

Michael, from Kansas City writes:
Will the President's dog Barney be making an appearance (and video) this holiday season? Any insight as to when this might happen and what we can expect this year?

Sara Armstrong
Barney, Miss Beazley and Willie the cat have a special new video this year called "Barney's Holiday Extravaganza." You can expect great views of the decorations, a few special appearances, some wonderful holiday music courtesy of "The President's Own" U.S. Marine Band and, of course, the usual fun adventures of the presidential pets.

shane, from tuscaloosa AL writes:
how many large colored balls are on the tall christmas tree on the white house lawn? this is a trivia question at my school. thank you, shane

Sara Armstrong
Well hello, Shane. Thanks for asking about the National Christmas Tree, which is located on the Ellipse just south of the White House. The National Park Service cares for this tree and has decorated it with 125 colored balls. The President and Mrs. Bush lit the National Christmas Tree at a ceremony on December 7th. Hope you do well with your trivia questions!

Joyce, from Singapore writes:
Greetings How many visitors are expected to visit the White House this holiday season?

Who came up with this year's theme "Deck The Halls and Welcome All"? Any special meaning for this theme?

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas

Sara Armstrong
We expect to welcome more than 45,000 visitors during tours and another 9,000 guests at holiday receptions. Mrs. Bush and Nancy Clarke, the White House Chief Florist, came up with this year’s theme. There are traditional holiday decorations featuring cheerful holiday colors including silver, green and red. The red was inspired by the beauty of the Red Room on the State Floor.

Roanna, from Ohio writes:
When does the preparations for Christmas or the Holidays begin? And How long does it take to get the decorations put up, etc. in time for vistors and events taking place at the White House? Thank you

Sara Armstrong
The White House staff starts working during the summer months to formulate ideas for theme and decorations. Once November rolls around, the decorators kick into high gear and usually have just a few days after Thanksgiving to prepare for the first event. This year, the Christmas tree arrived at the WHite House on November 27th and Mrs. Bush unveiled the final decorations on November 30th.

Sara Armstrong
Thanks again for all of your great questions. There were so many, I couldn't get to them all, but I encourage you to visit the "Holidays at the White House" section of the web site to learn more. Merry Christmas and best wishes for a Happy New Year!

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