A 300-pound gingerbread White House is a featured holiday tradition in the White House's State Dining Room. (Hunter Savery/Capital News Service)

By Hunter Savery,
Capital News Service

The White House has unveiled its 2022 holiday decorations. This year’s theme, “We The People,” brings a distinctively homespun feel to the White House with an emphasis on decorations that people could make at home and a sense of shared national values. 

Decorations include ornaments drawn by children in the State Dining Room, a tower of flickering candles in the Red Room and, in the China Room, the mantle is adorned with wooden spoons and well-loved family recipe cards contributed by volunteers from around the country, including First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s own family. 

The decorations were put up by over 150 volunteers from across the country and the White House expects 50,000 visitors this holiday season. The president and first lady wrote in a letter to guests, “…our hope is that you feel at home and find yourself in the great story of America.” 

“When our country comes together, we are stronger. What we share is so much greater than the things that pull us apart,” Mrs. Biden said during his recent remarks in the East Room. “The soul of our nation is — and always has been — ‘We the People.’ And that is what inspired this year’s White House holiday decorations.” 

Nowhere is this theme better embodied than in the Grand Foyer where rectangular mirrors and reflective metal ribbons hang from the trees. In this room, guests can quite literally see themselves in the decorations.

The welcoming, familial theme of this year’s decorations draws a notable contrast from former First Lady Melania Trump’s blood-red trees and opulent decorations. 

The Bidens have taken a more DIY approach, with cardboard cutouts of the presidential dog, Commander, and cat, Willow, popping out of gift boxes and playing in the snow. 

The State Ballroom is home to a 300-pound gingerbread White House and a sugar cookie-based replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. The edible display is made up of 30 sheets of gingerbread dough, 20 sheets of sugar cookie dough, 30 pounds of chocolate and 40 pounds of icing. 

Natural themes were woven throughout the decorations as well. In the East Room, four national parks were highlighted: The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah, each represented above a fireplace mantel. The East Room is the largest room in the White House and features a portrait of famed conservationist President Theodore Roosevelt. 

The official tree, one of 77 Christmas trees on the White House grounds, is an 18-foot, 6-inch tall concolor fir from Auburn, Pennsylvania.. The tree is trimmed with representations of the official birds of all 57 U.S. states and territories, including Maryland’s Baltimore Oriole, Virginia’s Northern Cardinal and the District of Columbia’s Wood Thrush. 

The holiday display includes a new addition to the White House’s collection, a menorah crafted from wood salvaged from a 1950 White House renovation. 

Music filled the halls of the East Wing during a preview Monday, thanks to performances by the United States Marine Band, led by Col. Jason K. Fettig, 28th director of the United States Marine Band. The band, along with smaller ensembles scattered throughout the building, played holiday classics along with more modern additions such as “Let It Go” from the movie “Frozen.” 

In addition to the 77 Christmas trees, the White House is decked out with 83,615 lights and 25 wreaths. Planning began in the spring and the volunteers worked for a full week to put up the decorations. 

“We may celebrate different holidays—we may sing different songs or say different prayers— but our shared American values endure season after season,” Mrs. Biden said. “May the promise of ‘We The People’ light our path forward into the New Year and bring us together always. Merry Christmas and happy holidays. God bless you. God bless our troops and their families.”

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