COTE DE TEXAS

The First White House Christmas for the New President

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NOTE:  I know the country is so divided right now and even mentioning the words ‘White House’ can be loaded – but please realize – I am just commenting on the Christmas decorations, nothing more and nothing less.   I have always tried to keep religion, politics and race out of the blog.  Keep in mind that if I make a positive comment about one White House Christmas Theme and a negative comment about another theme – it’s not because I’m either a Republican or a Democrat. 

It’s just about the décor!!

I try to blog about the White House Christmas theme every other year or so and I think one reason why I am drawn to it is because as a  Jew, we don’t decorate for Christmas.   I’ve talked about this before – but being a Jewish blogger during Christmastime can be a very lonely place.

Writing about the White House holiday festivities is one way I can enjoy the season’s décor with all of you !!!

As usual,  the comment section will be unmoderated and all I ask is that everyone PLEASE be respectful of each other.

And so, on to The 2017 White House Christmas Decorations!!!

Lord, help me!!!

or

“OY VEY IST MIR” – as my Yiddishe bubbe used to say to me!


I love the lone lights on in the Family Study.


When a new First Lady comes to the White House, it’s exciting to see what direction her Christmas decorations will take.    The holidays are one time that the First Lady can put her stamp on the White House style and show off her creative abilities.   But, it must also be an enormous responsibility to come up with a new theme for Christmas, year after year.   The Obamas had two terms to decorate for Christmas and I’m sure by year eight, it was extremely hard to think of fresh ideas and new ways to tie a bow. 


Michelle’s 2015 Blue Room Christmas Tree – I always thought it was designed to make you think of the American flag.


  Michelle Obama was always fashion forward – her clothing choices were stylish and she liked to experiment with different dress designers.  She also had a myriad of haircuts.   Her interior design for the White House was just as exciting.  Michelle’s decorator, Michael S. Smith, introduced color schemes not seen before in the White House and the family added important pieces of contemporary art work to the permanent collection.  Thus,  it would only follow that the Obama Christmas décor would also be modern and bold.    If you were a fan of flocked trees and silver ornaments – the Obama Christmas themes wouldn’t necessarily be your cup of tea.   Year Eight was by far their most whimsical theme –  colorful and joyous, it was geared to the children, to be sure.   The theme was “The Gift of the Holidays” – and there were wrapped presents in every corner of the White House.


Contemporary and festive, the last Obama Christmas was a nod to the children.  The two main trees weren’t even trees!  Set in shiny silver tubs, the tree shapes were lighted from within and decorated with bright silver and  gold balls.   Wrapped silver gifts were placed between the columns in the foyer. 


In the Obama State Dining Room,  scalloped trays held a collection of gingerbread houses – made from LEGOS, they represented each state and territory.   Do you see how kid-friendly this theme was?



The Obama basement was lined with a collection of friendly and melting snowmen.  Some wore scarves, others worn knit caps.


The Obamas went out with a bang, for sure.  Their last hurray was one to remember.   Reviewers of their 2016 Christmas décor said the next family “would have tall shoes to fill to duplicate their last theme.”  But, I’m sure that many didn’t really like this style.  I know that I prefer more traditional Christmas décor. 

What theme would you choose for the White House if you were suddenly annointed First Lady?  Would you be forward thinking like Michelle or would you go for a more traditional route?

I would go more traditional, which is exactly what Melania Trump did.

AND this year’s 2017 White House Christmas Theme is a winner.  The decorations have never been prettier.  It’s a theme for all ages to enjoy – not just children.  I can imagine grandparents loving this year’s theme as much as their grandchildren.  It’s absolutely beautiful. 

Hats off to Melania for a job well done.

For sure that initial Christmas for each First Lady must be the hardest.  Politico recently wrote a story about the First Christmas White House Theme from Kennedy to Trump HERE.   You can easily see the evolution of the Obama themes from their first more traditional Christmas to their last, very modern, theme:


For Michelle Obama’s First Christmas in 2009, she chose a more traditional theme.


Eight years later, Michelle’s last Christmas Theme in 2016, was a riot of colorful and contemporary elements.


For the first Trump Christmas, the theme is “Time-Honored Traditions” –  a nod to the 200 years of holiday celebrations inside the White House.  To be sure, the new First Lady definitely wanted to bring back a more classic holiday look.   There is nothing contemporary about her decorations.   To  further illustrate the “traditional” décor – ballerinas leapt around the Grand Foyer to strains of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.   The choice of The Nutcracker was a nod to Jacqueline Kennedy whose "Nutcracker Suite" in 1961 was the first official White House Christmas Theme.


Note:  I’ve noticed a few changes in the White House décor since Obama has left.  There has been very little said publicly about the Trump decoration,  but we had to wait almost six years to get information about the Obama décor.


In 1894, Grover Cleveland’s White House Christmas

While Christmas themes have changed dramatically over the years,  it is obvious that Melania wanted to bring back a more classical look.  Her changes were obvious before you even stepped inside the White House.   Each window now has a large red bow wreath – as if the White House was any other house in the neighborhood, decked out for the season.


The White House windows with traditional wreaths and red ribbons in each window.  

Amazingly, this is the first year that the windows have had wreaths!   Why weren’t there wreaths before?   I’m sure the windows will never be bare again and the wreaths will forever be known as Melania’s Wreaths. 


The holidays are a great time to examine the beauty of the White House up close.  The trim around the windows is just so exquisite.


A close up of the pretty fan light window found in the family’s private floor.


And to drive home the point – the traditional gingerbread house showed the red ribboned wreaths in its windows.  Each year the cake is designed according to the theme and it is displayed in the State Dining Room in front of the antique gilt mirror. 




Here is a very blurry plan taken from a video -  of the First Lady’s décor on the main floor of the White House.  I counted 33 trees here, alone.  On top of this, there are more trees in the basement, the second and third floors, and the West and East Wings!  Can’t imagine how many trees there are in total for the complex.


The festivities start after Thanksgiving with the First Lady descending down the main stairwell.  The White House reported that Melania was very involved in the choosing of each detail. 



Ballerinas danced to The Nutcracker for the First Lady.



The piano provides holiday music for parties.

Off Topic:  When are they going to update those red AND yellow curtains?



After the tree lighting ceremony, there was a party with music.



Melania looks over all the decorations.



The Grand Foyer and Cross Hall became a winter wonderland.   The Foyer looks exceptionally pretty because there are so many trees grouped together.


A closer view.   Thankfully, the long red runner was picked up from the Cross Hall.   The  Blue Room tree is the focal point from this direction.



I love the flocked trees.  These are just beautiful!!!   Did you notice all the crystal icicle ornaments hanging from the branches?



The view down the Cross Hall looking into the State Dining Room. 

I love how simply the trees are decorated – with only crystal ornaments and snow.

Just beautiful!!!



This nighttime guest shows a view of the beautiful chandeliers in the Cross Hall.



And here is the view towards The East Room – showing the nativity scene placed inside the gold curtains.



The dancers add a wonderful element to the photographs.



A close up of the crystal ornaments show that besides the icicles, there are both stars and ballerinas.  Love it!!!!!



Magical Winter Wonderland.



Large trees are layered with medium sized trees and small trees to create a soft vignette.



A night time view of the Cross Hall.  You can see the crystal icicle ornaments on the trees in this photo.



A very creative Instagram photo of the Cross Hall during a nighttime party.



The focal point in the Grand Foyer is the door to the Blue Room.  Flanking the door are two large trees, and inside the Blue Room is the largest tree in the house, which is delivered each year by a horse drawn carriage.



The Blue Room tree is an 18 x 6 Balsam fir from Wisconsin.  Ornaments with state seals decorate the tree.


The Blue Room tree is trimmed with gold ribbon and blue velvet bows.


The Blue Room at night.   Glass ornaments with each state seal decorate the tree.



The First Lady and her son Barron welcome the Blue Room tree to the White House – this event always signals the start of the Christmas Season here.



The Blue Room tree during the day.



Next door, the Red Room is decorated as a candy cane wonderland!   This is a brand new design for this room.  Traditionally there are two small trees placed in the windows.  This year,  for the first time in memory, the tree is placed in the center of the room. 



The view towards the State Dining  Room.

I really love this chandelier.

As for the design, not sure why they used these tall boxes.  The tree looks out of proportion, in my opinion.  When the trees were in the windows – they were always on the boxes, but not sure it looks right, here in the middle.  Thoughts?


The  view towards the door.



And the nighttime view.



Close up of the tree with the candy cane ornaments.


A nighttime view of the Red Room with the tree lit up.  Candy stations are between the windows and flanking the settee.


Red and white candy cane stations are set up around the room.  They look like ice cream float drinks.   Darling!!!!  


View of the settee with the candy cane decorations at each side.



The First Lady said "Surprise” to the school students working on art projects made with gumdrops.   

"So you want to show me how to do it?" she asked the students who then helped her make the project. 

Nothing is more traditionally Christmas than candy canes!!


In the newly updated Green Room, the design mimics The Red Room, with one central tree instead of the two smaller ones in the windows and that darned box again.

I really hate the box.



The theme in the Green Room was traditional crafts, using paper and classic designs.



Night party in the Green Room.  


Traditional silhouettes were displayed in the Green Room’s windows.   The scenes in the two windows depict President John Adams and Thomas Jefferson,  each celebrating Christmas with their families.



The mantel displays a collection of Presidential silhouettes.  I LOVE this!!!! 



Nighttime view.  Notice that the newly recovered salmon chairs, designed by Laura Bush’s decorator, are nowhere to be seen.  Not sure if they are permanently gone or just gone for the holidays.



A closeup of the mantel décor.


The view towards the hall and grand staircase from The Green Room. 



The children showed the First Lady how to make the silhouettes.   Cut outs to make your own silhouettes were included in the White House brochure.

Usually, the brochure is available online – but I couldn’t find it this year.



The Green Room reflected in the antique gilt bulls-eye mirror.



In the East Room, the John Singer Sargent portrait of Theodore Roosevelt looks out onto a hanging mistletoe. 



This is the most minimally decorated East Room that I can remember.  I do like the simplicity though.   Usually three needlepoint rugs are in the room – but they were removed.  Not sure if that is a permanent change or not.  The creche is the focal point of the décor.



A close up of the White House’s creche. 



Melanie plays catch with the ornaments. 


When Melania first walked into the East Room, one of the children asked her "Are you the First Lady?"   Another said she looked like an angel.  They all ran up for a group hug.   The First Lady was all smiles with the children and she obviously was enjoying her time spent with them.



Simple and elegant.


The large East room has four fireplaces and three chandeliers.



The center chandelier is reflected here in the mirror along with the candelabra. 


One guest took this photograph of the East Room chandelier.   Beautiful!



For an evening party, the table is set with food and sweets.  A bar is set up on the sides of the room and green skirted tables are used to eat at. 


Across the long Cross Hall is the State Dining Room.  The big shock is the reappearance of the old rug that was replaced by the Obamas!  What is going on??????  

The White House Historical Association spent a fortune on a new rug for the State Dining Room, along with new chairs and new curtains.   This is the old rug from the old décor.    And, I’ve been DYING to know if the Trumps changed the décor in the adjoining Family Dining Room??   The two dining rooms are adjoining – and their new designs compliment each other.   If the Trumps are changing the State Dining Room – then I think the Family Dining Room would be next,  which is such a shame because the Obamas had just recently revealed their new design for that room which cost $590,000, paid for by the White House Historical Association.  Oh well…

Back to Christmas.   Sorry.  I just blew a gasket looking at this rug!  LOL


Again, the décor is simple and classic.  Dual trees trimmed in green and gold balls.


A close up of the trimmings.



The Gingerbread White House is seen at the very right.  This is a different chandelier than the others.  It’s brass, not crystal nor French, which most of the others are.




The gingerbread  house with the wreaths in the windows.  Great bald eagles hold the console upright.


Abraham Lincoln gives his approval.  At least the new curtains remain.  Not sure if they will bring back the former ones too.

BTW, the Association made TWO identical rugs for this room – so that when one is cleaned, the room will still have the proper rug on the floor.  And I assume it was done for wear and tear.



Now this caused the most chatter of all the decorations.  Silvery icy branches created a winter wonderland in the hall.   Usually the décor in this hall is less than stellar, but this time – it’s spectacular. 



At night, it takes on an eeriness with the uplights.



This photo of the First Lady was released, walking through the branches.

But as usual, people couldn’t leave it alone!!!

This view and the previous photograph of the hall became a very, very popular meme.  People thought the photo looked spooky and a large number of memes were created and then shared on Social Media.


The first meme:   The nighttime photo turned into a Halloween worthy look.

Look at the ceiling – spooky smoke and lighting was added.


And here is just one of the 1,000s of memes created – the scary twins.  You have to have a sense of humor. 

Google “Melania White House Christmas Meme” to see more of the memes … if you dare.



The Trumps first Christmas Card was on display along with cards from all the other first families.



The Gold  Star Tree is a mainstay of Christmas – you can send an online message to a serviceman or send one via the postal box. 


The children work on Christmas cards underneath the various cards through the years.



On the basement level, the library had a clever tree made of books. 


I wonder if the golf book is one of President Trump’s!  


An original 1866 edition of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, is protected by glass next to the wing chair and fireplace.  President Franklin Roosevelt read the story each year at Christmas in the White House.    The Library has several thousand books – many are first editions.


This guest posed on the settee in the Library – I had never really noticed the settee or the antique mirror above it.


In the China Room, the table was set for a traditional Christmas dinner.  That epergne!!



Another view.



The table was set with Ronald Reagan’s china.


And The Vermeil Room – the decorations are color coordinated to the room.  This room is really the blahs.   They need to redo it and make it more exciting.



Lady Bird!


The beautiful oval Diplomatic Reception room is also located in the basement,  but it is NOT on the Christmas tour.  Thankfully, the Trump sisters Tiffany and Ivanka posted photos of them in that room so we can see some of the decorations.   The original, antique wallpaper, found and bought by Jacqueline Kennedy, is one of my most favorite decorative elements in the White House.

But, all I can notice is there is a NEW rug here!!!  When did that happen?   More about the rug follows.



One great surprise is for the first time ever – the movie theatre was opened for Christmas visitors.  Notice the fan light over the door.  Each family chair on the front row has a blanket on it – in other photos – there were also pillows with white pillow cases.



A visit to the famous White House bowling alley is NOT on the tour,  but this family was invited to use it during their Christmas visit.   I never realized there are two lanes.   It really looks professional too!  Apparently there are TWO bowling alleys in the White House complex.  This is the original two lane alley that was used almost every day by staffers during the Obama years.   AND, there is also the Nixon bowling lane -  a private single lane that Richard Nixon had installed for his personal use.


All in all – the 2017  First Trump Christmas is a success.  I think it’s the prettiest décor in a long time.  I love the traditional theme and look forward to seeing how Melania’s Christmas style evolves over the next three years.


This was always my favorite year – 2004 Laura Bush.   Her theme was “A Season of Merriment and Melody.”  


Now, about that rug!!!

This is the rug that has been in the oval Diplomatic Reception room since 2009, purchased by Laura Bush.    This rug was custom woven for the room and it received high acclaim when it was first seen, in situ.


No information has been released about a new rug in this room.  It might have been ordered by the Obama’s and it might have just arrived, but that seems unlikely.   This rug is a bright yellow green and I’m not sure where the shade came from – it doesn’t look like the greens found in the wallpaper. 

This past summer, during the time when everyone was on vacation, a small renovation took  place in the West Wing and Oval Office.  Photos of the finished work were released to great fanfare.   But another, later notice, below, was barely discussed. 

In November, it was announced that $1.75 million was spent on furniture for the White House and associated offices, including $17K for custom rugs. 

This might be for the Diplomatic Reception room – OR for a new rug for Trump’s oval office.  Or, it could be for East or West wing offices.   Additionally, $7,000 is for furniture pedestals and $5K for wallpaper.   Also, $12.8K was spent on a custom conference table from a company that made one for Richard Nixon in 1969.  $291K goes for office walls (?) and another $240K was spent on  wood office furniture.  $29,000 went to “upholstered household-furniture manufacturing,” and $10,000 for floor coverings.

$7,000 for pedestals?   He must be adding busts around the office.  The $291,000 for office walls?  That sounds like office cubicles.

It is not known whether Trump is paying for this himself.  He is allowed only $100,000 to redecorate. Obama’s changes were paid for out-of-pocket and donors.   Trump did buy a large crystal chandelier for his dining room in the West Wing along with a 60’ TV.


Here is the rug,  seen last week.

It’s just an oval green rug with a small pile.  The pile is AWFUL.  It creates tufts where people walk.  Do you see how the rugs has shadows on it?  This color looks deeper and less yellow than the photo with the daughters in it. 



And here’s another view.  This is a lesson on pile and flat rugs in public areas.    Glad I don’t have to vacuum this rug up each time someone steps on it!



On to the State Dining Room with the old décor, rug, and curtains.   This decoration was completed by the CLINTONS!  The room had not been decorated in that long. 

But for some reason, the Obama’s new rug (2) are not being used and the old rug was being used again.   Maybe the rugs were damaged or made incorrectly so they were being sent back for correction?  That could be a possibility. 


The White House Historical Association bought the rug(s), curtains, and new chairs. 


At this luncheon given by Melania a few months ago – the Obama rug was still in place.  I love her flowers and tablesetting.  Very elegant.


But here is the older rug.  I am perplexed!


The East Room normally has three rugs in place – one underneath each chandelier.  These rugs were pulled up for the holidays – probably.  But again, not sure.


And moving onto the Oval Office.


Obama’s office.   Designed by Michael S. Smith, the wheat colored rug was the focal point – quotes from leaders were sewn around the perimeter.  Velvet sofas with marine blue velvet pillows, two tan leather chairs,  and contemporary lamps were a complete departure from past décor.   The wallpaper was striped.  The office was traditional with contemporary touches. 


This view shows the new rust curtains, Resolute desk, two antique chests, and side chairs that had been used by previous presidents.

Trump took out the sofas and brought in George W. Bush’s sofas, he brought in Ronald Reagan’s rug and Bill Clinton’s horrible curtains.  It was a complete mishmash.

If I were his designer – I would have said, keep the Obama décor until yours arrives. 

Instead, there were whispers that the Obama wallpaper was stained and damaged.  I kid you not.  That’s what an anonymous source from the new administration said as to why the wallpaper was changed as a stop-gap measure until the entire office is redone for good at which time new wallpaper will be hung, again.

The same official source also said “Mr. Trump wanted to bring back the luster and the glory of the White House.”


And here is the President’s  newly revealed office.   He is using the old rug and sofas from various presidents – including Clinton’s old curtains until his new furniture arrives. 

But he removed Obama’s wallpaper and replaced it with this one that seems too white and gray and cool toned,  since the sofa, rug, and curtains are warm toned.


Close up of the paper. 


And finally, the last treat – something I have never seen before – the White House elevator!  Love this.  Notice the carved trim and the porthole windows.  Utterly charming.  I hope they never get rid of these doors.

I hope you enjoyed this look at the 2017 Christmas decor.


Here are two books I just discovered from the former White House florist.  Click to order:


Christmas White House flowers – click above.


White House year round flowers – click above.


A few ideas for celebrating Christmas:



For the night before…. Checked Pajamas HERE


Another cute pair, less expensive HERE




Darling shirt for Christmas HERE


Ben aka Mr. Slippersocksman is addicted to his slippersocks…he just ordered a fresh pair from Amazon.  Click on the photo…


For Christmas, these are darling.  I never knew there are slippersocks in all colors and  styles.  Click on the photo.



We love to do jigsaw puzzles on Christmas Day – this is an Antique Map.  Click on the photo.


A table specifically for puzzles.  Click on the photo.



Need a cute house gift?  French plates & French Cheese HERE




VINTAGE Chinese Rice Bowls HERE


Dress up or down for Christmas Eve or Day  HERE



With jeans.  Black Velvet Jacket  HERE



Love this – in Pink OR Black Kimono HERE