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Homey and Simple Decorations at the White House

by Associated Press
Friday Dec 3, 2010

"Simple Gifts" is the theme Michelle Obama chose for Christmas at the White House, 2010.

"The greatest blessings of all are the ones that don't cost a thing: the time that we spend with our loved ones, the freedoms we enjoy as Americans and the joy we feel from reaching out to those in need," she said Wednesday at a preview of the decorations.

Here are details of the White House holiday decor.

-East Wing visitor's entrance: Magnolia and oak leaf garlands, and paper white flower blossoms; a "military appreciation tree" decorated to honor the five branches of the military; handwritten season's greetings notes collected from White House guests to be delivered to service members in Iraq, Afghanistan and other parts of the world.

-East Colonnade: Eight wreaths, one in each window, made of natural materials, including oranges, pears and dried flowers.

-Children's area: A small tree featuring gingerbread ornaments decorated by 300 children of military parents; a larger-than-life version of Bo, the Obama family dog, fashioned from 40,000 black and white pipe cleaners.

-Lower Cross Hall: Four-foot white poinsettia trees in garden planters and garlands of white poinsettias.

A larger-than-scale replica of Bo, the Obama family dog, made of almond paste and condensed milk, according to White House pastry chef Bill Yosses. It weighs 350 pounds.

-East Room: Four large Christmas trees and hand-crafted decorations in turquoise, purple, green and gold with a bird and floral theme, and decorated with fake peacocks; wreaths hanging from the mirrors; a late 18th century Italian presepio, or creche.

-Blue Room: The official White House Christmas Tree, an 18½-foot Douglas fir anchored to the ceiling to keep it from tipping over, with a theme honoring county and state fairs, and decorated with prize ribbons from each state and territory. Students from the Savannah College of Art and Design helped design the ornaments using natural, locally sourced materials.

-Green Room: Decorated in an environmental theme, using recycled materials; two trees and other decorations made of recycled newspapers and magazines that are folded, glittered and decorated with ribbons and jewels.

-Red Room: Decor in deep plum, fuschia and red; red lacquer magnolia wreaths, used last Christmas, hanging in each window.

-State Dining Room: Decorated as it might be for a holiday gathering with family and friends; garlands of fruit and foliage decorate trees, mantels and wreaths; two trees with leaves spray painted in gold and ornaments shaped like lemons and red and green pears.

-Grand Foyer: Two large Christmas trees with white lights and red and gold ornaments; large stone urns filled with birch and beech branches illuminated with white light.

-Gingerbread House: A larger-than-scale replica of Bo, the Obama family dog, made of almond paste and condensed milk, according to White House pastry chef Bill Yosses. It weighs 350 pounds and is made of gingerbread covered in white chocolate. Thirty pounds of honey from the White House beehive was used to make the gingerbread. The house has cutouts to show the East Room and the State Dining Room. There is also a replica of Mrs. Obama's fruit and vegetable garden, made of almond paste.

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