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Holidays at the White House

House Museums present history and the lives of their inhabitants in time capsules. No house museum in the world does this better than The White House in Washington, D.C. Home to the Presidents of the U.S. since 1800 when President John Adams and his wife moved in, the rooms of this iconic mansion hold treasures and memories of every presidential family since then.
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Nighttime view of the White House, Washington D.C.
Nighttime view of the White House, Washington D.C.

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The East Room

House Museums present history and the lives of their inhabitants in time capsules. No house museum in the world does this better than The White House in Washington, D.C. Home to the Presidents of the U.S. since 1800 when President John Adams and his wife moved in, the rooms of this iconic mansion hold treasures and memories of every presidential family since then. The theme of this year's holiday decorations is "A Timeless Tradition" and I was privileged to be invited to the White House to explore. Here are a few of my favorite rooms with a touch of the history they embody. Many thanks to the White House Historical Association for their continuing research and scholarship.

You too can tour the White House throughout the year. Here is the link with instructions for reserving tickets through your Congressman or Embassy. There is also a link for a virtual tour, but I highly recommend a tour in person, to the finest "House Museum" in the world.

The first Christmas party in the White House was hosted by President John Adams in December 1800 and holiday celebrations have continued ever since.

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Penguins and a Sleigh playfully welcome you to the East Entrance.

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First Lady Nancy Reagan's portrait hangs in the Entry Hall

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The Library. The Chandelier is painted wood from the home of American author James Fenimore Cooper. Carol Lim designed the 2015 holiday decor for this room.

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The Vermeil Room. Portraits of First Ladies Jacqueline Kennedy and Patricia Nixon. The mahogany center table was purchased by President Andrew Jackson in 1829. Duro Olowu designed the decorations for the Vermeil Room this year.

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The China Room. Glorious in red with the portrait of First Lady Grace Coolidge. Designer Carolina Herrerra added the holiday decorations for the China Room this year.

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The East Room. The White House creche was made in Naples, Italy in the 18th century and was donated to the White House in the 1960s. The Gilbert Stuart Portrait of George Washington on the right is the one that First Lady Dolly Madison heroically saved during the fire of 1814.

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The East Room. The chandeliers and decor remain from the 1902 Gilded Age restoration by President Theodore Roosevelt.

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The Blue Room. A patriotic tree fills the oval Blue Room. The wallpaper and draperies recall the designs used in this room in 1817.

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The Red Room. This used to be Dolly Madison's sitting room where her famous salons were held. It was yellow then.

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Some of the best sights are the vistas from the inside of the White House.

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The State Dining Room. Holidays are about children and the White House is no exception. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy's first Christmas theme was "The Nutcracker."

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The portrait of President Lincoln is the only painting in the State Dining Room. Artist George P. A. Healy painted it in 1869 as part of a competition for the official White House portrait. He lost. Lincoln's son Robert Todd purchased it and his widow donated it to the White House in 1939. President Franklin Roosevelt decided it would be the only painting in the State Dining Room.

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The State Dining Room. The White House gingerbread house has been a tradition for the past 50 years. Each one is personalized for the current family living there.

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The Grand Foyer. The is where Presidents greet visiting Heads of State and where today's visitors end their tour under the Great Presidential Seal.

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The North Portico Entrance was added in 1829. President Lincoln made his last speech from the window above this door.