December 2nd, 2009
08:35 PM ET
9 years ago

Michelle Obama previews White House's holiday look


'Reflect, Rejoice, Renew,' is the theme of this year's holiday decorations at the White House. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) - Unveiling the White House Christmas tree and holiday decorations Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama explained why she chose this year's theme, "Reflect, Rejoice and Renew."

Related video: Mrs. Obama on holiday giving

"For the Obama family, Christmas and the new year has always been a time to reflect on our many blessings, to rejoice in the pleasure of spending time with our family and our friends, and to renew our commitment to one another and to the causes that we believe in," she said in the Grand Foyer of the White House.

She said everything came together with the help of East Wing and residence staff members, and 92 volunteers from 24 states who spent more than 3,400 hours getting the White House ready for the holidays.

Not part of the theme but on the minds of the first family is recycling.

Decorators used about 800 ornaments left over from previous administrations. "We sent them to 60 local community groups throughout the country, and asked them to decorate them to pay tribute to a favorite local landmark and then send them back to us for display here at the White House," Obama said.

Kim Fawley, a schoolteacher in Virginia who volunteered her time to help decorate, said she was impressed by the handmade ornaments, which include the Statue of Liberty, the Boston Celtics, Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo and the DuSable Museum of African American History.

"They're just beautiful. The love and the care that they took to put them together is obvious when you hold them in your hands," Fawley said.

In keeping with the environmentally conscious theme, the official White House Christmas tree, a Douglas fir that stands 18 1/2 feet high in the Blue Room, is lit with energy-saving LED lights. And according to the first lady's office, six of the trees on display at the entrances of the East Wing, West Wing and North Portico will be replanted after the holidays by the National Parks Service.

White House pastry chef Bill Yosses and his team personalized the annual white-chocolate-covered gingerbread White House to reflect the first family's first year in the White House. The 390-pound house includes replicas of "first dog" Bo and the first lady's kitchen garden.

Yosses said this is also the first time the gingerbread White House includes an interior replica of the State Dining Room, complete with furniture made of dark chocolate.

Filed under: Extra • Michelle Obama • Popular Posts • White House
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. m smith

    as always a class act. Such a wonderful family.

    December 2, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  2. Eric

    Seriously first of all who cares? Secondly you think the first lady could find more important pressing matters to deal with than the white house christmas decorations? I am sure they have plenty of staff who can handle that. At least when Hilary was first lady she was right along side helping her husband and taking an active part trying to get things done that mattered.

    December 2, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  3. CitizenS

    This is just one classy first lady. She is the most wonderful example to all wives, mothers and women in general. I hope that she will have the benefit of a wonderful holiday with her family. Her husband ain't so bad either! Kudos to the President Obama and the First Family for rising to the occasion of setting the kind of example we have needed for years but did not get.

    December 2, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  4. once upon a horse

    Christmas tree or "holiday tree"? Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Come on folks this is President Obama we're talking about. We can't have nice sugary stories like this about them. People will start to think that they just might be like most other Americans.

    December 2, 2009 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  5. Don B

    I had read that the Obama's don't consider this day as a Christmas Day but a holiday and thus they have a Holiday tree! This obviously is another break in American tradition with his election as president. If he called it a Christmas Tree, he would not be denying, declaring or decreeing a Christian belief in it's seasonal celebration. It's rather unfortunate he remains mum on his beliefs, but that's his perogative. As much as he remains silent, other presidents have broadcast their feelings and beliefs most openly and without reservation. Frankly, I'm more satisfied with the elected officials that recognize the tree in a Christian spirit rather than some heathen belief.

    December 2, 2009 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  6. Bessy

    Beautiful ! I never expected any less. I love the fact that Mrs. Obama is recycling ornaments left over from other administrations and that the environment is being considered. Good job !

    December 2, 2009 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  7. sylvia

    I wonder why the media told us that the White House is not referring to the tree this year as the Christmas Tree, but instead the Holiday tree?? What is going on here?? Is the Christian side of Christmas being tossed aside even by the White House??We were also told that the people who made the little ornaments were told not to put amything do do with Christ on the ornaments this year....( For Shame on the Obama family for not addressing this issue...of course Obama does not want to address anything it seems......

    December 2, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  8. Shameful

    Wow, previewing the holiday decorations including a CHRISTmas tree but no mention of what the meaning of this HOLIDAY SEASON is really all about!

    December 2, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  9. waffles

    it soudes like obama is going to have a good christmas

    December 2, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  10. New Yorker

    Further indications that there is a disconnect between the WH extravagance and the masses who are out of work and trying to figure out how they'll put food on their families' tables this Christmas let alone a piece of ginger bread.

    "Renew" renewal? reparations?

    December 2, 2009 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  11. jmtoth

    nice picture and the thoughts are wonderful

    December 2, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  12. william hightower

    The Christmas tree and decorations are stunning as they usually are at the White House, but I'm curious, is the birth of Jesus Christ the central theme of the decorations,or is this event displayed at all ?

    Thank you. Merry Christmas.

    December 2, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  13. Bob

    How does this have ANYTHING to do with politics. I thought this was a political ticker. This just shows how the liberal media is fascinated with the Obamas and will do anything to portray them in a positive light by diverting attention away from the facts.

    December 2, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  14. Barbara

    So happy the Obamas are in the White House. True class and style-with brains-so, so, so refreshing.

    December 2, 2009 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  15. janet corben

    will there be a Christmas at the white house on tv like the bushes did. I hope so.

    December 2, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  16. Michael

    Michelle Obama, a very classy First Lady! You rock!!

    December 2, 2009 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  17. Paul Austin

    Well done Mrs. Obama. I have never felt more proud of the White House or the efforts that the administration takes in it's affairs.

    December 2, 2009 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  18. Pat

    Very beautiful and so creative with the idea of the ornaments. Would love to see closeups of them. Show us more: Bo and the gingerbread house. WTG, Michelle!

    December 2, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  19. USAF Veteran

    I think anybody who orders 30,000 people to Afghanistan doesn't deserve a Christmas, because he's taking Christmas away from those 30,000 families.

    December 2, 2009 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  20. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I bet the Bush's have a grand Christmas and aren't humbled about anything. God Bless The Obama Family.

    December 2, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  21. Thomas

    What a beautiful Christmas Tree.

    December 2, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  22. kimberly

    Shes the best first lady we have ever had. Shes involved, cares about the troops familes, cares about local issues, and has the grace and beauty of Jackie, I am so proud of this family...I am glad they are ours

    December 2, 2009 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  23. concerned coloradan

    Of course Michelle is recycling ornaments. She is wonderful!!!!!!!!!!

    December 2, 2009 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  24. gypsydaveywithablowtorch

    Waiting for the Republican response:

    Don't believe it for one minute. The Obamas secretly wish to destroy this country. They shouldn't be celebrating Christmas with two wars, unemployment over 10%, etc.

    People . . . . . ?

    December 2, 2009 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  25. me

    I love the colors: yellow gold, sky blue, green tree, white. To me Christmas is peaceful time filled with love. Thinking about past, loved ones, present and future. In our country it is a baby Jesus who brings the gifts. It is so poetic.

    December 2, 2009 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
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