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Celebrating the Gift of the Holidays

Ever wonder how the White House gets transformed for the holidays? Deesha Dyer, White House Social Secretary, reveals how it all comes together.
Volunteers and staff work on holiday decorations in the Lower Cross Hall of the White House, Nov. 28, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
Volunteers and staff work on holiday decorations in the Lower Cross Hall of the White House, Nov. 28, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The smell of pine, the taste of gingerbread cookies, the choral sounds of music filling the halls and the sight of thousands of guests coming through the doors -- that’s right, it’s time for another magical holiday season at the White House!

In our eighth and final holiday season, we’re celebrating the theme, "The Gift of the Holidays" -- the gift of family and friends, reflection and remembrance, and excitement and cheer.

As the White House Social Secretary, it’s my job to lead the transformation of the People’s House during the holiday season and help welcome everyone who comes through the White House doors.

It all begins six months ahead of time with input from Mrs. Obama along with a talented team of designers who come up with amazing and festive concepts and sketches for the entire White House, the private residence, and the West Wing (including the Oval Office).

Then, we have the hard task of sorting through a bulk of eager, everyday citizens who want to volunteer to help us decorate. We read lots of fun and creative letters. The volunteers show up the Friday after Thanksgiving and work tirelessly with the designers, White House Executive Residence team, Social Office and so many others to get it all ready! It’s a team effort to bring it all together. We are so lucky that in addition to the tours and receptions to showcase the work, we are able to also bring the joyous experience of the Holidays to those online. You’ll be able to view all of the amazing décor soon, but here are just a few hints at what you’ll see.

We’ve moved the traditional military tribute to the East Garden Room to allow more space for guests to reflect and send messages to those serving abroad. As always, the Blue Room will hold the majestic, official White House Christmas tree -- along with the featuring key excerpts from the Constitution and images that represent the diversity of America. I won’t reveal much more, but be sure to look for your home state in the State Dining Room and get ready to have your wide-angle camera lens ready for the fun, larger than life display of the First Dogs, Bo and Sunny!

Entrance to the Blue Room

It’s been my honor and privilege to work another year as the Social Secretary for President and Mrs. Obama. On behalf of the social office team -- Lauren Kelly, Elizabeth Pan, Pantea Faed, Kristina Broadie, Kayla Daniels, and Jonathan Lee -- we hope you enjoy the decorations as much as we enjoyed getting them ready for you.

Let the season begin!

Deesha Dyer is the White House Social Secretary