White House Unveils a Muted Holiday Theme and Decorations: ‘Simple Gifts’

By Jared

Dec 1, 2010 2:00pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller, Ann Compton, and Elisha Beard report:

Reflecting the economic mood of the country this holiday season, the White House has unveiled a muted theme and decorations at the White House as “Simple Gifts.”

Reflected in the décor the theme celebrates the everyday gifts around – in family, nature, music and food, the White House says.

Over 100,000 people will visit the White House in December and today cameras were allowed to see and shoot the newly decked halls around the White House.

While the decorations are modest this year there are also some incredible statistics: 19 Christmas trees, one 350 pound gingerbread house, two – yes two — replicas of Bo Obama, one made out of 40,000 pipe cleaners, wreathes in the East Colonnade using 500 pomegranates, 400 pear gourds, 450 artichokes, 350 purple dipper gourds. 350 green dipper gourds. 400 green bear gourds. 400 orange pear gourds, and 1,000 handmade oak leaf roses from the home and neighborhood parks of the volunteers.

Throughout the White House the decorations are all mostly made of elements from simple materials – wood, paper, leaves, fruit, vegetables, wire, fabric, applesauce and glue.

There is an emphasis, as it has been in the past, on reusing and recycling. Many of the same decorations from years past have been repurposed. The Green Room in particular has an environmental theme of reusing ordinary materials to make decorations. The trees are made of 75 pounds of recycled newspapers and 6 magazines –each page folded, glittered with gold, and arranged to make a tree.

Classic America is on display in the Blue Room, which hosts the 18 ½ and13 feet wide Douglas-Fir.

Decorated by the Savannah College of Art and Design the tree’s ornaments are inspired by the country’s state fairs. All the ornaments were constructed using natural, locally sourced materials. Each US state and territory has a handcrafted prize ribbon ornament on the tree featuring a symbol of their region. Sheaves of wheat don the top of the tree.

There is also an emphasis on military families throughout many of the decorations.

The East Visitor Entrance has a 12 foot “Military Appreciation Tree,” something that the White House says Mrs. Obama first thought of. The tree was designed to honor the contribution of America’s military personnel. Glass ball ornaments, depicting each service color don the tree, with a hand-made dove carrying an olive branch to symbolize hope and peace on top. Baskets nearby will collect seasons’ greeting for service men and women from White House visitors.

The Booksellers area features a children theme celebrating the simple joy of Christmas through a child’s eyes. There is a children tree with gingerbread ornaments decorated by 300 children from all families of all branches of the military.

And there is an oversized version – a “super-sized” version of Bo Obama, as one volunteer described it, made of 40,000 pipe cleaners and wire frames. The Bo replica wears a red collar with a picture of the real Bo Obama on the dog tag.

Bo also makes another appearance – on the traditional 350 pounds White House White Chocolate Gingerbread House. And tiny Bo – made out of marzipan – sits outside the white chocolate house.  There is also a marzipan replica of Mrs. Obama’s garden, complete with a small bee hive, similar to the one on the South lawn.

The East Room features hand-made decorations in turquoise purple green and gold with a bird and floral theme. Peacocks top the trees.

–Sunlen Miller, Ann Compton, and Elisha Beard

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