Every December, immediately following Thanksgiving, the White House transforms for the holidays. This incredible display of lights, decorations, desserts, gifts, and more involves thousands of White House employees working around the clock to get everything ready.
Over the years, several holiday traditions at the White House have continued to develop like the delivery of the White House Christmas Tree and the lighting of the White House Christmas tree.
Possibly the most unusual tradition is for the sugar-lover. Every year, the White House pastry chef creates a replica White House from scratch using fondant and other sugary treats. This year, the gingerbread White House even featured a sugar replica of Bo, the White House dog.
We take a look back at the White House Christmas over the years. From Hoover to the Obama administration, many of the traditions we saw then continue today.
Holidays at the White House
Holiday traditions at the White House through the years
Last year the children were visitors at the White House during the Christmas season, and they arrived in Washington on Dec. 22, 1931, to again add to the Christmas celebration of the presidential family. Mrs. Hoover is with Peggy Ann (left) and Herbert III (right) as they arrived at Union Station to regale Mrs. Hoover with tales of their trip from California.
The lighted Christmas trees in front of its portals in Washington on Dec. 25, 1931, the White House presented a beautiful, softly illuminated spectacles on Christmas night, and one at once sensed the serenity and joyous festivity of the day that prevailed behind the closed doors, where the grandchildren of President and Mrs. Hoover, Peggy Ann and Herbert, made merry with their toys and gifts.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt shown as he delivered the principal address at the lighting of the huge public Christmas Tree in the park across from the White House in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 24, 1934.
Jane Marsh, dressed in the costume of the Christmas seal design, pictured on Nov. 20, 1935 at the White House in Washington as she presented President Roosevelt with the first batch of Christmas Seals. The stamps are sold by the National Tuberculosis Association.
President Franklin Roosevelt and his family, en route to Christmas tree services in Lafayette Square, paused in front of the White House in Washington on Dec. 24, 1936.
Christmas at the White House in Washington for the Roosevelt's in the East Room as the family watches Johnny Boettiger, son of Anna Roosevelt Boettiger crawl on the floor.
Starred with many lights is this national Christmas tree which was set a twinkling on the White House grounds at ceremonies in Washington on Dec. 24, 1940 in which F.D.R. shared. The President, standing in a platform at the right, touched a button lighting the tree and then broadcast his Christmas wishes to the nation.
These packages, placed on benches in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Dec. 23, 1942, were distributed by President and Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt to younger children of White House employees on Christmas Eve. The gifts all went to children under 12.
U.S. President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy stand by the Christmas tree in the main entrance hall of the White House during a party for the staff of the Executive Mansion in Washington D.C. on Dec. 12, 1962.
President Lyndon Johnson?s helicopter raises off the White House South grounds in Washington, as he departs for New York and a speech before the United Nations on Dec. 17, 1963. Sign framing the scene is at gate to capital's annual Christmas Pageant of Peace on the Ellipse. Flag over executive mansion flies at half-state during last days of national mourning over the death of President Kennedy.
In this Dec. 14, 1965 photo released by the LBJ Library shows Lady Bird Johnson posing with a Christmas tree at the White House.
President Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson, and Yuki, the White House pet, pose beside the family Christmas tree in Washington, Dec. 24, 1967, a Norway spruce. Yuki takes a stand atop some of the family Christmas gifts arranged under the tree. The President returned from his round-the-world journey. The setting is in the Yellow Oval Room in the second floor of the White House.
U.S. President Richard Nixon, first lady Pat Nixon and their daughter Tricia stand beside the Christmas tree in the main lobby of the White House on Dec. 21, 1969, following a worship service.
First lady Betty Ford poses outside the executive mansion on Friday, Dec. 6, 1974 in Washington, with the White House Christmas Tree. The tree was presented by Edward Cole of Mayville, Mich., and was cut from the front yard of Mrs. Ouina Gardner's home in Mayville. Cole and Mrs. Gardner made the joint presentation.
Betty Ford shown in front of White House Christmas tree in Washington on Dec. 10, 1974.
In this photo provided by the White House, President Gerald Ford and first lady Betty Ford kiss while their children open their gifts Christmas morning, Dec. 25, 1974, at their Vail, Colo., residence. The president wears a woolen sweater with large "WIN" (Whip Inflation Now) knit pattern and the first lady borrowed the president's wolfskin coat, a replacement for the one he gave Soviet leader Brezhnev last month, as she waited for the hearth fire to warm the room.
First Lady Betty Ford wife of President Gerald Ford shown in front of the White House Christmas tree in Washington on Dec. 9, 1976.
The National Christmas Tree is shown being lighted by President Jimmy Carter and daughter Amy on the Ellipse in Washington on Tuesday, Dec. 14, 1978. The White House is shown in the background along with a large crowd of people who came to witness the ceremony. The first tree to be lit by a President was in 1923 by Calvin Coolidge.
Mrs. Barbara Bush, wife of Vice-President George Bush helps with the topping of the National Christmas Tree at the White House, Thursday, Dec. 2, 1982 in Washington. Joseph Biley President of the Christmas Pageant of Peace, assists with large ornament.
Mrs. Barbara Bush, wife of the Vice-President, left, with Joseph Riley, President of the Pageant of Peace Committee, right, and Lakisha Evans, a second grader from Congress Heights Elementary School ride to the top of the National Christmas tree in an aerial lift, to place main ornament atop the 30-foot living tree, Wednesday, Nov. 3, 1983 in Washington. Placement of the main ornament signals the start of decorating the National Christmas Tree which is pelted on the Ellipse, south of the White House.
First Lady Nancy Reagan poses alongside the 20-foot Noble Fir, which is to be decorated as a Christmas tree in the White House blue room on Dec. 9, 1983 in Washington. Ken and JoAnn Scholz, the Orting, Wash., growers of the tree, delivered it by horse drawn carriage to the executive mansion.
First lady Nancy Reagan takes 5-year-old Amie Garrison of Clarksville, Ind., on a tour of White House Christmas decorations on Monday, Dec. 11, 1984 in Washington. Amie, who was in failing health and in need of a liver transplant, came to Washington with her family to put her favorite ornament on the White House Christmas tree.
Pres. Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Nancy Reagan pose with their family Christmas Day at the White House, Dec. 25, 1984.
First Lady Nancy Reagan and Larry Hagman, who plays J.R. Ewing on the television series "Dallas," conduct a press tour of a Christmas decorated White House, Monday, Dec. 9, 1985 in Washington. An enlarged version of the Reagan Christmas card sits at left.
First lady Nancy Reagan sits on the floor with children of the Washington diplomatic corps and enjoys the entertainment during a Christmas party at the White House on Monday, Dec 15, 1986. Mrs. Reagan hosted the annual event.
Dick, and Tom Smothers meet with President Ronald Reagan at the White House on Monday, Nov. 28, 1988 in Washington to help kick-off the 1988 Christmas Seal Campaign, sponsored by the American Lung Association. The Christmas Seal Campaign, which raises funds for lung disease research, is in its eighty-first year.
First Lady Barbara Bush holds Millie after the spaniel showed interest in the 18-foot Fraser Fir which arrived at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 1989. The tree, grown in Spartanburg, Pa., will be on display in the White House Blue Room for the Christmas season.
First lady Barbara Bush shows off the White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room, Monday, Dec. 12, 1989 in Washington. The first day was conducting a tour for members of the press.
Taiwanese businessman Johnny Chung appears with President and Mrs. Clinton at a 1994 Christmas Party at the White House in Washington.
First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton points to a gingerbread house during a tour of the White House Christmas decorations, Monday Dec. 6, 1993. Showcasing the "best of America," Mrs. Clinton unveiled the decorations, a cozy display of crafts, trees and "funky and down to earth" ornaments. White House head pastry chef Roland Mesnier is at left.
U.S. President Bill Clinton reads 'The Night Before Christmas' to Washington area elementary school students, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Washington, Friday, Dec. 17, 1993. The president sat in a wicker rocking chair in front of a roaring fire as he read the Christmas classic to the students from six area elementary schools.
Former President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy pose for pictures during a tour of the "Christmas Around the World" exhibit at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum Tuesday, Nov. 22, 1994, in Simi Valley, Calif.
First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton displays ornaments on the White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington, Dec. 5, 1994. Mrs. Clinton gave a tour of the White House showing Christmas decoration's including the tree, an 18-and-a-half-foot Colorado Blue Spruce grown in Clinton County, Missouri.
President Clinton is hugged by Washington area school children as first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer look on, Thursday Dec. 22, 1994 in the State Dining Room of the White House. The children were invited to the White House to celebrate Christmas with the first family.
A White House photo, taken from the two-volume set of evidence delivered to lawmakers on Sept. 12, 1998, by the office of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky shake hands at a Christmas party.
With the White House in the background, the National Christmas Tree sits aglow on the Ellipse in Washington Thursday, Dec. 5, 1996, after President Clinton, along with Washington area children, officially lit the tree during the 1996 Pageant of Peace.
President Clinton, with the help of first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, reads "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" to Washington-area children, Thursday, Dec. 18, 1997, in the East Room of the White House.
First lady Laura Bush gives members of the media a tour of the White House Christmas decorations, Monday, Dec. 3, 2001, in the State Dining room of the White House. This years theme is "Home for the Holidays". Heightened security after the terrorist attacks will keep the White House and its lavish holiday decorations closed to all but invited VIPs. Mrs. Bush is instead taping a video tour of all the glitter to be shown at the nearby White House Visitors Center.
With the White House in the background, Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, along with granddaughters Kate Perry, 7, Elizabeth Perry, 4, and Peter Nostrand, president of the Christmas Pageant of Peace, Inc. wave from a hydraulic lift above the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse in Washington Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2001 after topping the tree with a star.
President Bush talks to members of the military during a round of Christmas Eve phone calls from Camp David, Md., Monday, Dec. 24, 2001. Bush planned to fly Wednesday to Texas so he can spend New Year's Day at his ranch in Crawford.
President Bush and Laura Bush stand in front of White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington Sunday, December 8, 2002, prior to hosting a reception for the Kennedy Center Honorees. Mrs. Bush is wearing a floor length gown designed by Arnold Scaasi.
First lady Laura Bush presents the White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room during a preview of the White House holiday decorations Thursday, Dec. 4, 2003, in Washington. The eighteen and a half foot Fraser fir came from Wisconsin.
Former President Bush and first lady Laura Bush arrive at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree during the Pageant of Peace ceremony at the Ellipse Thursday, Dec. 4, 2003 in Washington.
First lady Laura Bush stands with representatives from Smokey Holler Tree Farm in Laurel Springs, N.C., as she receives the 2005 White House Christmas Tree at the North Portico of the White House, Monday, Nov. 28, 2005 in Washington. An 18 1/2-foot Fraser Fir tree from North Carolina will be the official White House Christmas tree and will be decorated and displayed in the Blue Room of the White House.
In this photo released by the White House Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2004, President Bush and first lady Laura Bush stand in front of the official White House Christmas Tree during the 2004 holiday season in the Blue Room of the White House Saturday, Dec. 5, 2004.
A fife and drum corps add color to a white chocolate replica of the White House, on display in the State Dining Room of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008.
This Dec. 12, 1962 photo provided by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum shows President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy alongside a White House Christmas tree in Washington.The dress worn by Jacqueline Kennedy for her second holiday season in the White House is going on display at the Museum during the 2009 holiday season.
First lady Michelle Obama, right, with her daughters Sasha and Malia, right, as they stand with the White House Christmas tree as it is delivered to the North Portico of the White House in Washington, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. With the Obama's are Eric and Gloria Sundback.
The first Christmas of President Barack Obama and the first family at the White House in Washington the Blue Room is adorned with an 18-foot high Douglas Fir illuminated with LED lights Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009. The first known Christmas tree at the White House was in the tenure of Benjamin Harrison, who helped trim one in the upstairs library with friends, family and staff. "We shall have an old-fashioned Christmas tree for the grandchildren upstairs and I shall be their Santa Claus myself," Harrison exclaimed.
First lady Michelle Obama delivers Christmas toys from White House staff to the Toys For Tots Stafford County Distribution Center in Stafford, Va., Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009.
In this Dec. 3, 2009, photo released by the White House, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama pose with Oprah Winfrey in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington during a taping of a special, "Christmas at the White House."
White House pastry chef Bill Yosses speaks about the 2010 White Chocolate Gingerbread House featuring marzipan replicas of the Obama family dog, Bo, and the White House Kitchen Garden, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington.
First lady Michelle Obama shows off a gingerbread cookie she decorated with children from military families, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. At right is White House pastry chef Bill Yosses.
President Barack Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha Obama, and mother-in-law Marian Robinson, left, participate in the lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the Ellipse across from the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010.
First lady Michelle Obama and children look for Santa during the lighting of the National Christmas Tree at the Ellipse across from the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010.
First lady Michelle Obama greets children during a holiday celebration showing the holiday decorations at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013.
President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, applaud after lighting the National Christmas Tree at a ceremony across from the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013.
Santa Claus, violinist Joshua Bell, President Barack Obama, opera singer Renee Fleming, singer Janelle Monae, singer Mariah Carey, and Jane Lynch, actress, gather on stage at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony across from the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013.
President Barack Obama dances as soprano Renee Fleming cheers from behind during the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013.
The Obama family poses for their 2011 White House Christmas Card.