Obamas' first White House Christmas

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inspiration for the Obamas' first Christmas in the White House came from the house itself. Reflecting on its Georgian style, first lady Michelle Obama chose traditional decorations to reflect the scale, architecture and color palette of each room.

Natural materials such as magnolia, hydrangea, honeysuckle vine and pepper berries decorate trees and wreaths in all the rooms on the State Floor, along with dried root materials from the first harvest of Mrs. Obama's vegetable garden on the South Lawn.

—Upon entering the East Wing, visitors can make a "wish" for the season by decorating a recycled cardboard "Wish Tree."

—Windows along the East Wing Colonnade feature 48-inch magnolia wreaths dressed in red and framed with bright green boxwood garlands.

—East Room: Four fireplaces are decorated with fresh garlands, blue hydrangea, seeded eucalyptus and beaded fruit. Four 60-inch wreaths suspended with silk cord hang behind antique torchieres complementing mantel garlands.

—Grand Foyer: Two 15-foot Fraser fir trees on either side of the main doorway to the Blue Room were decorated with reflective iridescent glass balls and claret colored beaded glass branches.

—Blue Room: Location of the official White House Christmas Tree. The 18½-by-13-foot Douglas fir is lit with environmentally sound LED lights and decorated with between 650 and 700 ornaments from previous administrations. The ornaments were sent to 60 community groups around the country for refurbishing, with instructions to decorate them with favored American landmarks. Landmarks honored range from the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore to the Kennedy Space Center and the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, the Obamas' hometown. The ornaments were hung with blue ribbon embroidered with the words "reflect, rejoice and renew" — this year's holiday theme — in several languages.

—Green Room: Features a twist on the traditional "evergreen" trees by showcasing two 8-foot, dried pepper berry topiary trees made from 400 bunches of California grown pepper berries.

—Red Room: The tradition of a "cranberry tree" in the Red Room was modified by embellishing the marble mantel with a cranberry garland and two cranberry wreaths around the necks of the carved mantel figures. Two Fraser fir trees in gilded Versailles boxes are decorated with cranberries and deep red velvet and taffeta ribbons.

—State Dining Room: Decorations were designed to complement the coloring in the William Cogswell portrait of Abraham Lincoln above the fireplace on the west wall. The painting is flanked by two Fraser fir trees decorated with natural pods, berries, magnolia branches, honeysuckle garland, sugar pine cones and pee gee hydrangea that had been previously used and collected and dried by the flower shop. Completing the look are copper colored mercury glass ornaments, antiqued bronze glass beaded garlands, taffeta ribbons in deep coppery chocolate and burgundy and natural flax colored linen ribbon complete the look.

—Gingerbread House: Two new additions to this year's white chocolate-covered, gingerbread White House, as seen from the South Portico. The 56-by-29-inch, 390-pound work of culinary art features Mrs. Obama's vegetable garden on the South Lawn, and has a cutout giving visitors a peak into the gingerbread State Dining Room, with a working chandelier and furniture made of dark chocolate. Replicas of the garden vegetables and Bo are made of marzipan.

Source: White House