First Lady Unveils White House Holiday Decorations

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
November 30, 2021 Updated: November 30, 2021

The White House unveiled the holiday decorations Monday for Joe and Jill Biden’s first White House Christmas, honoring frontline workers who persevered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Gifts from the Heart” is the theme represented in each of the public rooms of the White House. But fewer people are likely to see the decked-out mansion in person this year, with public tours still suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In remarks thanking volunteers for decorating, the first lady explained the vision behind her theme, speaking of unity and her view that everyone comes together around faith, family and friendship, gratitude and service, and love for one’s community.

“For all of our differences, we are united by what really matters,” she said. “Like points on a star, we come together at the heart. That is what I wanted to reflect in our White House this year. In each room, we tell a story of gifts from the heart.”

Nurses, doctors, teachers, grocery store workers, and others are recognized in this year’s gigantic Gingerbread White House, which was made into a 350-pound gingerbread village with the addition of a school and police, fire and gas stations, as well as a hospital, a post office, a grocery store, and a warehouse to honor workers who stayed on the job.

Gingerbread White House
The official 2021 Gingerbread White House is displayed in the State Dining Room of the White House during a press preview of the holiday decorations on Nov. 29, 2021. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The shooting stars that illuminate the East Colonnade hallway again represent frontline workers, who the first lady said “brought light to our lives in the darkest days of this pandemic.”

The other showstopper of holidays at the White House is the official Christmas tree, an 18-foot-tall Fraser fir that commands the Blue Room and is trimmed with white doves and ribbon bearing the names of all U.S. states and territories to celebrate peace and unity.

Jill Biden Unveils White House Holiday Decor
The official White House Christmas Tree stands in the Blue Room of the White House during a press preview of the holiday decorations on Nov. 29, 2021. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

More than 100 volunteers decorated the White House, including the Oval Office, while the Bidens spent Thanksgiving week in Nantucket, Massachusetts. They trimmed 41 Christmas trees and hung some 6,000 feet of ribbon and more than 10,000 ornaments.

The volunteers came only from the surrounding area, instead of from all over the United States as in past years, because of COVID-19 concerns.

Twenty-five wreaths adorn the exterior of the White House, and nearly 79,000 lights illuminate the Christmas trees, garlands, wreaths, and other holiday displays.