Jill Biden on Monday unveiled this year’s White House holiday decorations, the results of months of planning and coordination between the first lady, the executive residence staff and a team of more than 150 volunteers.
The 2022 decorations are themed “We the People,” and feature 83,615 holiday lights, 77 Christmas trees, a gingerbread house bedecked in 40 pounds of icing — and nods to the White House pets: German Shepherd Commander and cat Willow.
Dr. Biden unveiled the decorations alongside National Guard families Monday, invoking the memory of the Bidens’ late son, Beau, a former member of the Guard.
“As a fellow National Guard mom and grandmom, I wanted to welcome National Guard families to help us open this holiday season as my honored guests,” she said. “Your service is the embodiment of We the People.”
In a welcome letter in the 2022 White House Holiday Guide, the president and first lady expanded on the theme, writing: “For this year’s holidays at the White House, we hope to capture the spirit embodied in the very idea of America: We the People. During your visit to the People’s House, through rooms full of history and holiday décor, in the mirrored ornaments and reflective lights, our hope is that you feel at home and find yourself in the great story of America. May the promise of We the People light our path forward into the New Year and bring us together always.”
According to a press release, the White House holiday planning began in the spring months, and Dr. Biden chose the theme and inspiration for the decorations by mid-year.
Each room of the White House is decorated in this year’s theme, which the White House explains in a release is meant to symbolize “what brings us together during the holidays and throughout the year.”
The East Wing Lobby, for instance, is bedecked with holiday greenery and red cardinals — meant to signify the presence of lost loves ones — lining its columns and beams. In another nod to lost loved ones, the first Christmas trees featured on the White House tour are adorned with mirrored Gold Star ornaments — a representation of fallen service members.
In the China Room, decorations like garlands of wooden spoons, measuring cups, rolling pins, and cookies represent old family traditions. In the Vermeil Room, acts of kindness are on display via oversized presents wrapped in patterned paper and spools of ribbon, including two boxes in which replicas of the Biden family pets — German Shepherd Commander and cat Willow — can be seen playfully hiding inside.
The Blue Room is anchored by the centerpiece of the holiday season: an 18½-foot Concolor Fir that stands floor to ceiling and required the removal of a chandelier to accommodate its full height.
Adorning this year’s tree are handmade renderings of the official birds from all 57 states, territories, and the District of Columbia, “illustrating the beauty and strength that comes from unity,” the White House said in the release.
In prepared remarks during Monday’s official unveiling of the decorations, Dr. Biden noted that her travels across the country helped inform this year’s theme.
“Over the last two years, I’ve traveled to almost 40 states — to rural counties and big cities,” she said. “Again and again, the Americans I’ve met have shown me the Soul of our Nation. I’ve seen it everywhere I’ve gone: When our country comes together, we are stronger. What we share is so much greater than the things that pull us apart. The Soul of our Nation is — and always has been — ‘We the People.’ And that is what inspired this year’s White House holiday decorations.”
Among the other notable pieces of holiday decor is the annual gingerbread replica of the White House, made with 20 sheets of sugar cookie dough, 30 sheets of gingerbread dough, 100 pounds of pastillage, 30 pounds of chocolate, and 40 pounds of royal icing.
A new addition to the White House collection this year is a menorah created by the Executive Residence Carpentry Shop using wood that was removed from the building during a Truman-era renovation in the 1950s.
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The White House expects to welcome approximately 50,000 visitors during the holiday season. Additionally, a variety of virtual interactive viewing experiences will launch on digital platforms this year.