(WASHINGTON) — It’s the holiday season at the White House and thousands of feet of ribbon, ornaments and bells are helping mark the occasion.
First lady Jill Biden unveiled the holiday decor Monday and announced this season’s theme is “Magic, Wonder, and Joy,” which was inspired by how children experience the holidays.
“Each room is designed to capture this pure, unfiltered delight and imagination — to see this season, this time of year through the wondrous, sparkling eyes of children,” she said.
Biden detailed the festive decor that visitors will see as they travel throughout the White House, which includes 98 Christmas trees, 72 classic wreaths and more than 140,000 holiday lights. The decor celebrates the 200th anniversary of the classic tale Twas the Night Before Christmas, Biden said.
Heading into the East Wing, guests walk under tree branches, which the first lady said she and President Joe Biden were “mesmerized” by.
A Gold Star tree is also on display in the White House, honoring service members who’ve died for the country and their families. Each star is engraved with the names of fallen service members, she said — adding that Gold Star families helped decorate the tree.
The first lady invited National Guard families to be the first members of the public to take in the sights. Before the unveiling of the decor, Biden hosted a round table discussion with National Guard families, her office said.
In the White House’s many rooms, visitors will find floating sweet treats, Santa Claus riding his sleigh and the 2023 White House gingerbread house, she said.
This year’s annual gingerbread house was created using 40 sheets of cookie and gingerbread dough, 90 pounds of pastillage, 30 pounds of chocolate and 50 pounds of royal icing, the first lady’s office said.
“The Blue Room behind me features the official White House Christmas tree, a stunning creation covered in holiday cheer from across the country,” Biden told the crowd. “A vintage passenger train weaves around the tree’s base. I know the kids are just going to love it when they visit.”
The official White House menorah, which uses reclaimed wood from White House beams, is also on display, she said.
“The holidays offer a time for reflection and a break from our hurried lives — a season to be fully present with our friends and our families. It is also a season of gratitude,” Biden said before thanking the volunteers — more than 300 of whom it took to decorate the White House.
Reflecting on this year’s theme, Biden said magic, wonder and joy can sometimes be hard to find.
“But it’s in these times, when we are searching for hope and healing, these points of light, all of them … the most that we need is each other,” she said. “That’s when we need each other the most because, you know, children have something to teach us if we’re wise enough to listen — how to remain present, even as a busy world beckons us.”
“How to open ourselves up to love and wonder and to marvel at every moment, no matter how ordinary,” she said.
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