Christmas Decorating With the First Ladies

Claire Shipman on the tradition of decorating the White house for the holidays.
4:14 | 11/25/11

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Transcript for Christmas Decorating With the First Ladies
First Thanksgiving for the big kickoff to Christmas for a lot and our friendly no different the White House Christmas tree we'll actually arrived today and just next week First Lady Michelle Obama is going to reveal. This year's -- ABC's Claire Shipman shows us the decking the halls of the people's house is actually a project. It's months in the making. Yeah pass to start -- after all there are thousands of feet of Garland until late fourteen foot trees to install. And always always hundreds of pounds of fanciful gingerbread -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- It's decorating the house for Christmas is a big deal for many American families just and the hedge in the stressed her country's top hostess at. He's the commander in chief -- Christmas she oversees everything Colleen Christian -- details five decades of White House holiday decorating in her new book. The -- sold the sparkle. The -- that -- infused one of the first lady's most visible responsibilities. People are gonna look to see if our First Lady has good taste. And who wants the -- short and -- she's having a 100000 people over for the holidays it was that icon of White House style Jackie Kennedy who created the tradition of coming up with a new holiday theme each year but she avoided that. Glitz of modern times in -- says it's time there was a lot more in addition to recipes and decorating tricks the book includes a few unadorned presidential family Christmas moments as well we have. Caroline and I'm time in their reenacting the intensity with the subsequent administration the new First Lady has added her unique. -- some more eyebrow raising than others. Nancy Reagan's annual unveiling to the press was often alongside his celebrity. Decked out in Santa. In 1983 it was Mr. T. -- with the -- few minutes Laura Bush was often given to silver and white simplicity -- in America. -- in the past some mrs. Obama's -- it tended to reflect her interests so far revolving around a common theme. Simple gifts. That's the theme this year simple gifts because in the end the greatest blessings -- -- Are the ones that don't cost a thing what she -- -- this. Isn't on hasn't smiled at things that are important to her all year -- come out at Christmas time. For exits and no campaign the president let us all know that apparently Santa likes cookies. It's apples we're out on Christmas scene with -- first ladies like to employ their own family decorations official White House Christmas tree so tall this year you had to take down the chandelier that's right in its decorated. With Barbara and -- grandparents ornament. Taking these halls takes a lot of hands often hundreds of volunteers and White House staffers and an estimated 3500 hours of work. Three years ago Colleen who has your own holiday decorating business was determined to -- hand. So she did a bit of lobbying you wanted to be and there -- -- it I can't I want to a half. She finally got an invitation and spent two days assisting a process that she says it's part military operation part typical family chaos they pack up boxes pull him back out the next year accident using some of the same -- and some of the same stuff. Yeah I think -- the White House lights -- we're -- can plug a man and a lot of dissent that -- -- through at home like Alex forget how do we make it straight. -- is recreated many of the themes for the -- -- readers can bring a little White House home for the holidays. But looks can be deceiving mrs. Obama as gingerbread men look good enough to eat but don't try it. They're baked with glue instead of sugar meant to last. Like -- how well. Perhaps it's good to know there's some artifice some ordinary behind all of the magic. For the most part though we want to be dazzled -- White House often showcase what's good about our country and the decorations. Even the cynics among us find it hard to play Scrooge when faced with this. Claire Shipman ABC news Washington.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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