Timeless as they may seem, Christmas trees have not had a place in the White House for as long as you might imagine. For most of the 19th century, first families decorated the president's residence with low-key greenery—simple wreaths, garlands, and ornaments. President Benjamin Harrison erected the first Christmas tree in the White House in 1889, decorated with candles, toys, and ornaments to delight his grandchildren. The first Christmas lights appeared in 1894, during the presidency of Grover Cleveland, during whose administration electricity was installed at the White House. Here, a look at the White House Christmas decorations of the last century.
The White House East Hall christmas tree was to be admired by visitors, while President Franklin Delano Roosevelt also had a family tree on the second floor.
During his 12 years in office, FDR had many family Christmas traditions, such as lighting the tree with real candles, a , and a Christmas day church service.
Just as America entered World War II following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Roosevelts welcomed Winston Churchill to the White House for Christmas.
The 26 trees decorated throughout the White House during the Eisenhower administration held a record until 1997.
President Eisenhower poses for a Christmas portrait with his family outside the White House.
The Eisenhower family stands in front of their Christmas tree, hung with silver tinsel, on their last year in the White House.
The White House tradition of decorating in began with Jacqueline Kennedy when she chose to decorate the tree with ornaments from the "Nutcracker Suite."
President Kennedy poses in a candid family photo with his wife, children, dogs, and in-laws on what would be his last Christmas.
On a visit to the United States in 1965 just before the holidays, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and his wife are shown the White House Christmas tree by Lady Bird and President Johnson.
You might call the White House Christmas tree decorations of 1967 almost psychedelic: Lady Bird Johnson opted for strands of popcorn and an eclectic mix of colors and ornaments.
The Nixons' dogs, Pasha and King Timahoe, pose in front of a miniature Christmas tree with the Eisenhowers' poodle Vicki.
Since the Hoover administration in 1929, decorating the official White House Christmas tree has been a responsibility of the First Lady. In 1970, Patricia Nixon trimmed the tree with glass ornaments and tinsel.
Richard Nixon and his wife Patricia pose with their daughters and sons-in law in front of the Blue Room Christmas tree.
Patricia Nixon shows off the White House's Cross Hall decorated for Christmas with holly and trees.
For her first Christmas as First Lady, Betty Ford chose to decorate the Blue Room tree with ribbons and an array of classic ornaments.
Betty Ford decided on a less formal look when she decorated the 1975 Christmas tree with paper chains, popcorn strands, and wooden ornaments.
First Lady Rosalynn Carter decorated the with ornaments made by members of the National Association for Retarded Citizens.
In 1978, Carter decorated the Blue Room tree with antique toys lent to the First Lady by the Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum.
Although Nancy Regan decorated the Blue Room tree as well, the Reagans pose here in front of a more casual tree in the White House living quarters.
First Lady Nancy Reagan chose to pair white lights with gold and angel ornaments for her second Christmas in the White House.
In the unveiling of the 1983 Christmas decorations, Nancy Reagan was accompanied by Mr. T, star of The A-Team, dressed as Santa Clause.
Dallas star Larry Hagman dressed up as Santa for the Christmas tour of the White House when Nancy Reagan chose an "old-fashioned turn of the century Christmas" for the Blue Room theme.
President and Nancy Reagan pose for a Christmas portrait in front of an 18.5 foot Fraser fir from West Virginia. The White House tree, provided by Eric and Gloria Sundback's farm in 1987, is selected every year from a national competition.
Barbara Bush decorated her first Christmas tree in the White House with different dolls from popular children's books.
The 1991 Blue Room tree was decorated with , three of which First Lady Barbara Bush herself made by hand.
Barbara Bush gives a tour of the 1992 White House decorations, joined by her English Springer Spaniel Millie.
First Lady Hillary Clinton decorated an 18.5-foot Fraser fir tree with a mix of classic and "" ornaments for her first Christmas in the White House.
Clinton spoke of her hope that the American people "have an understanding of what this season is about," as she stood in front of the 18-foot East Room tree trimmed with decorations made by .
The 1995 decorations for the "Twas the Night Before Christmas, When All Through the House..." theme were donated by architects, needlepointers, embroiderers, culinary schools, and elementary schools. And just like the classic poem, visions of sugar plums danced in their head when the White House pastry chefs created a of Hillary's childhood home.
First Lady Hillary Clinton stands before an 18.5-foot decorated in ornaments made by the National Needlework Association, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and glass artisans for her "Santa's Workshop" theme.