'Tis the Season for Holiday Parties at the White House

Welcoming friends and relatives during the holiday season can be stressful for even the most patient and experienced hosts.

What if your guest list included more than 50,000 people over the course of three weeks?

This month, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama become the entertainers-in-chief, hosting nearly 30 parties during their first holiday season at the White House.

VIDEO: Lighting Up the Christmas Tree at the Biltmore
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More than 50,000 people have received invitations to attend one of the 17 holiday parties and 11 open houses at the White House that started last week and will continue right up until the Obamas leave for vacation at the end of the month.

This isn't just throwing open the White House doors and putting out some drinks and appetizers. The Obamas will attend each party, greet guests in a receiving line, pose for photos at most of the events and even mingle among the partygoers at a select few.

ABC News video of the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree lighting.
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This year, the holiday season parties are under increased, and perhaps unprecedented, scrutiny after the incident at the Obamas' first state dinner, when two aspiring reality television stars were able to get past security despite not having an invitation.

The "gatecrashers" incident put an unflattering focus on social secretary Desiree Rogers, who is the principle coordinator for social events at the White House and for the president and first lady.

The Salahi gatecrash also had a quick impact on the way the White House admits guests to holiday parties. Unlike the night of the state dinner, when the Salahis were admitted by Secret Service, White House staffers now stand at security checkpoints to help the Secret Service manage guests.

 Video: Sad looking Christmas tree on display in Concord, California.
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"We had staff at the security checkpoint to ensure that if there was any confusion about lists, those would be double-checked with somebody representing the social office," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said after the first party of the season on Dec. 1. "That was an assessment made based on something that we believed could have been added, and we've made those changes as of last night."

The change follows the procedures used by previous administrations, where a representative from the social secretary's office would attend to security checkpoints for events.

White House on Display for Holiday Visitors

The Obamas pledged to open up the White House and make it a more open, welcoming place to average Americans. They invited 30,000 visitors to the White House for the largest ever Easter egg roll on the South Lawn, organized a music series featuring artists and students, and started the year by hosting weekly cocktail parties to get to know members of Congress, their families and other key figures in Washington.

VIDEO: The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., lights up its rooms with decorations.
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But so far, the holiday season at the White House has been similar to those of past administrations.

There have been parties for members of Congress, congressional staff and White House staff.

Coming up are parties for the military, the Secret Service, White House residence staff and even the media corps that covers the administration.

Guests at the White House holiday parties get to explore the mansion's state floor, which holds famous rooms like the East, Red, Green and Blue rooms and the State Dining Room.

The president's Marine Band entertains guests with traditional carols throughout the evening.

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