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White House Christmas Decorations From The Kennedys To The

White House Christmas Decorations From The Kennedys To The White House Christmas Decorations From The Kennedys To The

Hill and another Secret Service agent ran interference, parting the crowds in front of her and protecting her from the crowds behind her.

The First Lady instituted “Candlelight Tours” of the White House during the holidays for working-class families unable to visit during daytime hours, so they could see the grand trees like this one, in 1971. 

Fifty-six years ago, in her husband’s first term as president, Jacqueline Kennedy introduced the tradition of giving the White House Christmas trees a theme. She chose “The Nutcracker” for 1961 and decked a tree in the Blue Room with ornaments modeled after the Tchaikovsky ballet. This week, as first lady Melania Trump unveiled the Christmas décor for 2017 – along with the theme “time-honored traditions” – there was a hat-tip (intentional or un) to that first year, as the theme given to the Christmas trees in the Grand Foyer and Cross Hall was “The Nutcracker.” As the White House holiday season begins, POLITICO takes a look back at the first Christmases of first families from the Kennedys to the present.

Caroline, 4, prances around the tree during the family’s first White House Christmas in 1961.

Jaqueline, 33, and JFK, 45, gather with family in 1962. From left to right: Caroline, 5; Gustavo Paredes; John Jr., 2; Anthony Radziwill, 3; Prince Stanislas Radziwill, 48; Lee Radziwill, 29; Anna Christina Radziwill, 2.

President Ronald Reagan, 73, and Nancy Reagan, 63, play with their new puppy Lucky, a Bouvier des Flandres, in front of the tree in 1984. 

First Lady Hillary Clinton holds up a pair of snowman ornaments for 1998’s Christmas theme, “A Winter Wonderland.”

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President Lyndon B. Johnson, 59, and Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson, 55, — plus their dog, Yuki — admire the tree in the Yellow Oval Room in 1967. 

A White House festively decorated for Christmas has been a long-standing American tradition, and that hasn’t changed despite the current political climate. This year’s theme is “Time Honored Traditions,” which is reflected through the iconic 350-pound White House gingerbread house.

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First lady Melania Trump walks through the White House’s Grand Foyer and Cross Hall as she tours Christmas decorations Nov. 27, 2017. The theme of the ornaments in that area? “The Nutcracker,” just as it was for the Kennedys in 1961.

A champion of literacy, President George H.W. Bush, 67, reads to his grandchildren on Christmas Eve 1991. 

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Photographed in the State Dining Room, President Bill Clinton, 47, and Hillary Clinton, 46, stand in front of the tree for their holiday greeting card in 1993, the same year they organized the first official menorah lighting at the White House.

Jack and Jackie Kennedy, 1962. Photo courtesy John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

She flew down to Palm Springs for the traditional Kennedy family Christmas.

Laura Bush, 58, and George W. Bush, 58, pose in the Blue Room in front of the 2004 tree. The theme that year was “A Season of Merriment and Melody,” and the room was filled with 350 instrument ornaments. 

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Three days later, she stole the show at the Orange Bowl, where President Kennedy spoke to a crowd of 50,000 Cuban exiles welcoming the arrival of 1,113 veterans who had just been released from prison by Fidel Castro. Jackie followed her husband’s speech with remarks in Spanish.

First lady Pat Nixon holds stockings for daughters Julie and Tricia as she helps with Christmas decorating at the White House on Dec. 6, 1969. The stockings had hung on the Nixon mantel each Christmas since the girls were little.

After the death of John F. Kennedy, the Johnsons opted for holiday decor that was comforting and nostalgic, but the First Lady added a touch of glitter to the tree that year with silver balls, silver stars and round mirrors. 

In 2015, Michelle had the White House decorators set up 56 “snow people” to represent each of the United States’ states and territories, and did it again in 2016.

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Take a look back at the holiday decor of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, from the 1960s to Today

Among the holiday decorations in Trump’s White House is a silhouette of President John F. Kennedy.

The First Lady invited Mr. T to dress as Santa at the children’s party in 1983, and then famously sat on his lap and prentended to tell him what she wanted for Christmas. 

Michelle Obama, 45, came up with the theme “Reflect, Rejoice, Renew” in 2009, the first year she and President Barack Obama, 48, spent in the White House.

But on December 19, Joseph Kennedy suffered a massive stroke. The president missed the lighting of the National Christmas Tree to be with his father. Jackie Kennedy was grief-stricken, as she had a special close relationship with her father-in-law.

In 2001, the first Christmas after the Sept. 11 attacks, Laura Bush, 55, chose “Home for the Holidays” as the White House theme. Although she began preparations in March, she said, “Home just meant so much more to everyone…after Sept. 11.”

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Then she tried to go Christmas shopping in the glamorous shops on Worth Avenue. Clint Hill, her Secret Service agent, remembered what the disaster. The First Lady had hoped to create the celebratory feeling of a normal Christmas. But the store employees were awestruck and shoppers gawked through the windows.

But in 1963, the Kennedy family Christmas would be spent mourning the assassinated president.

Barack, though, was apparently not a fan, telling PEOPLE that he finds them “a little creepy.”

First lady Betty Ford shows off a White House Christmas tree Dec. 10, 1974.

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She visited a children’s hospital and gave small gifts to the children who wouldn’t be home for Christmas. (You can see a video of her visit here.)

Jacqueline started the tradition of decorating the White House Christmas tree according to a theme, chosing “Nutcracker Suite” in honor of the ballet for the family’s first year in office. 

First lady Barbara Bush shows off the White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room on Dec. 12, 1989.

The same year she threw one of the White House’s largest Christmas parties, a huge event on the South Lawn featuring an entire ice-skating rink.

She introduced the tradition of Christmas Tree themes, replacing the tinsel and white lights of the Eisenhowers’ Silver Tree. Instead, she decorated the White House tree with ornaments from the Tchaikovsky ballet, The Nutcracker, including gingerbread cookies, tiny toys, sugarplum fairies and candy canes.

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First lady Rosalynn Carter poses near a Christmas tree in the Blue Room of the White House on Dec. 13, 1977.

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Rosalynn Carter (here at age 53 with grandchildren Sarah Carter, almost 2, and Jason Carter, 5) chose a Victorian theme for the tree in 1980, adorning it with dolls, hats, fans, tapestries and laces. 

In 1962, the Kennedy family Christmas in the White House was the best ever. It was also the last.

First lady Michelle Obama debuts the 2009 White House Christmas decorations in the Cross Hall of the White House in Washington.

The First Lady chose a patchwork theme that Christmas to emphasize frugality and simplicity during the recession, even suggesting Americans make all their ornaments to save money.

This story about the Kennedy family Christmas was updated in 2017.

Christmas in 1962 would be the best in the White House for Jackie Kennedy, now pregnant. She had won accolades for her tasteful redecoration of the White House. The president had weathered the Cuban Missile crisis. He had paid close attention to the gift he gave her, a drawing by the French Impressionist Auguste Renoir.

Michelle had many original ideas during her years as First Lady, including building a replica of the family dog, Bo, out of plastic garbage bags in 2011. 

During a media preview to officially kick off the White House Christmas season Dec. 3, 2001, first lady Laura Bush shows off some of the many Christmas decorations at the White House.

That year, the iconic gingerbread house — created by White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier — featured two angels, holding stars, on both sides of an American flag that sat on top of the replica of the presidential home.

She gave him a piece of scrimshaw with the presidential seal carved on it, which he would treasure. Within a year she would place it in his coffin.

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Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy cuts a bright figure as she leaves Carlyle Hotel to do some Christmas shopping. The First Lady said she was going to buy a gift for her father-in-law, former Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy.

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Caroline Kennedy checks out the Nutcracker tree during the 1961 Kennedy family Christmas. Photo courtesy John F. Kennedy Library and Museum.

During a press tour of the White House Christmas decorations Dec. 8, 1981, first lady Nancy Reagan hangs an ornament.

Betty Ford, 56, poses with President Gerald Ford, 61, in front of the tree during their first Christmas at the White House in 1974.

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She later told him, “It seems I can’t go anywhere anymore without causing a scene…” He agreed to do some Christmas shopping for her.

The children staged a Christmas pageant that delighted the parents. On Christmas Day, the First Lady ingratiated herself with Miami’s large Latino population by going to Mass wearing a Spanish-style white lace mantilla.

The first White House Christmas in 1961 started out pretty well, as 32-year-old Jackie Kennedy had hit her stride as First Lady.

Once the White House staff learned of the President’s aversion, they pranked him by moving one of the snowmen to peek into the Oval Office. 

When First Lady Jackie Kennedy left for Dallas in November 1963, plans were already underway for the Kennedy family Christmas. Jack Kennedy had gone to great lengths to find her the perfect gift – a fur coverlet. He also learned French and intended to surprise her with it on Christmas Day.

She managed to buy a few gifts for Caroline, John and other family members. But, wrote Hill, “it was not the pleasant experience she had hoped for.”

During a white Christmas at the White House in 1973, Pat Nixon, 61, and President Richard Nixon, 60, admired a stocky snowman on their lawn. 

First Lady Barbara Bush, 67, stands with the family’s springer spaniel Millie next to the tree in 1992. The theme that year was “Gift-Givers,” and White House florists created 88 gift-giving characters to decorate the branches. 

First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, pictured with White House head pastry chef Roland Mesnier, shows off a gingerbread house during a tour of the White House Christmas decorations Dec. 6, 1993. Showcasing the “best of America,” Clinton unveiled the decor, a display of crafts, trees and “funky and down to earth” ornaments.

We tried to be as respectful as possible, and usually people responded positively to our requests, but every so often, we’d have to extend an arm or use our body to fend off an overzealous individual trying to reach Mrs. Kennedy.

Back in Florida with the Kennedys, they were joined by Jackie Kennedy’s sister Lee Radziwell and her family. Everything went well. She took the children to Burdine’s to visit with Santa. Caroline told Santa she wanted a doll, and John said he wanted a helicopter.

Christmas shopping in New York City didn’t go any better than it had the year before. A photographer took her picture and splashed it all over the Daily News with the caption,

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She had painted two watercolors – the Journey of the Magi and an angel with a horn. Hallmark made the cards and contributed the proceeds to what would become the Kennedy Center. She and the president had signed 30 of their own cards to friends and supporters — probably the rarest of all presidential Christmas cards. Gifts that year were going to be leather–bound collections of presidents’ inaugural speeches.

Caroline Kennedy marvels at the Christmas tree in the White House Blue Room before a party for White House employees given by her parents Dec. 13, 1961. First lady Jacqueline Kennedy began the tradition of having a theme for White House Christmases when she chose to decorate the Blue Room tree with items evoking Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker.”

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