Culture Holidays Take a Tour of 11 White House Christmas Trees By Jenn Savedge Writer University of Strathclyde Ithaca College Jenn Savedge is an environmental author and lecturer. She’s a former national park ranger who has written three books on eco-friendly living our editorial process Jenn Savedge Updated December 03, 2019 First lady Betty Ford's theme for her 1976 White House Christmas Tree was 'The Love that is the Spirit of Christmas.' . (Photo: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum/NARA) Share Twitter Pinterest Email Culture History Travel Sustainable Fashion Art & Media Holidays Community Over the years, myriad styles have been used to decorate the tree that annually graces the Blue Room of the White House, the official White House Christmas tree. Historians aren't exactly clear when the first tree was put up in the White House; it may have been either sometime in the 1850s or more like 1889. But what we do know is that in 1929, then first lady Lou Henry Hoover began a tradition whereby the first lady would be in charge of decorating the annual tree. In 1961, Jacqueline Kennedy took things up a notch by choosing a theme for the White House Christmas tree. Both of those traditions live on to this day. From the reign of the Kennedys to the era of the Obamas, the Blue Room tree has seen everything from patchwork quilted ornaments to crystal garland. Here's a look at the trees through the years. 1961, Jacqueline Kennedy In her first year in the White House, first lady Jackie Kennedy began the tradition of choosing that year's tree decorating theme. (Photo: Robert Knudsen, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum) In 1961, first lady Jackie Kennedy began the tradition of choosing a theme to decorate the White House Christmas tree. She decorated the Blue Room tree with ornaments inspired by the Nutcracker Suite ballet: angels, toys, and birds. 1964, Lady Bird Johnson President Lyndon Johnson is seen here adjusting an ornament at a White House holiday party for underprivileged kids. (Photo: The White House) Lady Bird Johnson chose an Early American theme for the 1964 tree. She decorated it with cookies, paper ornaments and strings of popcorn and berries. 1969, Pat Nixon First lady Pat Nixon's first theme was 'State Flower Balls' in 1969. Each ornament represented a state's flower. (Photo: whitehouse.gov) In 1969, Mrs. Nixon commissioned disabled workers to make velvet and satin balls that featured each of the state's flowers. 1974, Betty Ford Susan Ford, daughter of then-President Gerald Ford, hands out gifts to children at a White House holiday party for children. (Photo: Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum/NARA) First lady Betty Ford commissioned ornaments made by Appalachian women and senior citizens groups for her first White House Christmas tree. That year, the tree was decorated with handmade patchwork ornaments to celebrate America's traditional crafts. 1978, Rosalynn Carter In 1978 first lady Rosalynn Carter decorated a tree with Victorian dolls and miniature furniture. (Photo: whitehousehistory.org) In 1978 first lady Rosalynn Carter created an "antique toy" tree by decorated it with Victorian dolls and miniature furniture lent by the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum. The next year, she celebrated American Folk Art of the Colonial period, asking students of the Corcoran School of Art to create imaginary symbolism pieces from balsa wood, fabric and dried flowers. She returned to a Victorian theme in 1980 with dolls, hats, fans, tapestries and laces. 1986, Nancy Reagan The ornaments for this tree were made by White House staff and volunteers from the organization Second Genesis, a drug rehabilitation program. (Photo: Reagan Presidential Library) For almost all eight years of her husband's term as president, first lady Nancy Reagan used ornaments made by patients at Second Genesis, a drug-treatment program, to decorate the White House Christmas tree. In 1986, Mrs. Reagan's theme was Mother Goose, and she decorated the tree with dolls and geese from her favorite nursery rhymes. 1991, Barbara Bush First lady Barbara Bush shows off her handmade needlepoint ornaments. (Photo: The White House) In 1991, the Saintly Stitchers of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, created a needlepoint village and 92 pieces for a Noah's Ark built by White House staff. For her first White House Christmas tree in 1989, Mrs Bush followed in the footsteps of Jackie Kennedy when she used the Nutcracker Suite as inspiration for her decorations. 1994, Hillary Clinton First lady Hillary Clinton's 'Twelve Days of Christmas'-inspired Christmas tree. (Photo: The White House) In 1994, first lady Hillary Clinton chose the Christmas carol "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as her theme for decorating the White House Christmas tree. The ornaments for the tree were made by art students around the country. Two years later, Mrs. Clinton chose the popular Nutcracker Suite theme that was also used by Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961 and Barbara Bush in 1989. 2005, Laura Bush In 2005, first lady Laura Bush's theme was 'All Things Bright and Beautiful.'. (Photo: George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum/NARA) In her years as first lady, Laura Bush choose musical instruments, native birds, historic homes and iridescent glass as her inspiration for decorating the White House Christmas tree. The theme for the 2005 tree was "All Things Bright and Beautiful," and Mrs. Bush decorated it with white lilies, crystal spheres and iridescent garland. 2009, Michelle Obama A team of volunteers decorates the official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room of the White House in November 2009. (Photo: Obama White House/Flickr) In her first year in the White House, first lady Michelle Obama took 800 ornaments that had been left over from previous administrations and sent them out to local community groups around the country. She asked each group to design an ornament depicting a favorite local landmark. The theme for the 2009 White House Christmas tree was "Reflect, Rejoice, and Renew." In 2015, the tree is dedicated to service members, veterans and their families. It is covered with holiday messages of hope for the troops, as well as patriotic symbols of red, white and blue. 2019, Melania Trump Melania Trump's 2019 decorations include predominantly gold and white trees. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images) For Melania Trump's third White House Christmas, she decided on the theme "The Spirit of America." The predominantly gold and white trees also have patriotic red and blue decorations. According to the White House, the decorations "celebrate the courageous individuals who have shaped our country and kept the American spirit alive."