The Official White House Christmas Ornament: Collected Stories of a Holiday Tradition by Marcia M. Anderson

My media collection (Books, CDs and DVDs/Blu Ray) is rivaled only by my Christmas ornament collection. I used to have many themes, but have pared down the collection to 6-7 now. One that I started collecting years before I got married was my Americana tree, which mainly consists of ornaments from the White House Historical Association. This year, in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Association, a companion book was released.

From the publisher: “Issued annually by the White House Historical Association, Official White House Christmas Ornaments are hung on millions of Christmas trees each December. But the ornament program did not begin as a series. When the Angel Gabriel ornament was issued by the Association in 1981, it was an immediate success and the phenomenon began. Today the ornaments are a popular collector’s item and a long-standing and beloved tradition. This book includes the collected stories behind the design of each of the forty ornaments issued from 1981 to 2020. The fortieth ornament, made for 2020, honors President John F. Kennedy. It was during his administration that the White House Historical Association was founded. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy envisioned that the nonprofit Association would serve as a private partner in maintaining the White House while educating Americans about its history.”

There’s a brief introduction into how the Association started and how the idea of issuing an ornament came to be. The book consists of two-pages dedicated to each ornament; one page features a history of the origin of the ornament, what it is made of (most are some combination of 24k-gold plated brass, enamel color, ceramic, bisque porcelain, and Aquia Sandstone from the same quarry that provided bricks for the White House), and one page of a full-color picture of a given year’s ornament.

The ornaments began in 1981 with a simple Angel Gabriel ornament that was designed on a weather vane George Washington had at Mount Vernon. Each year, a president is honored with some sort of ornament. This year, the ornament honors John F. Kennedy, whose wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, helped found the Association.

As the years progress, the Association goes in sequential order of presidents, with a few exceptions: the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the presidency, and the 200th anniversary of the White House itself. The ornaments have increasingly become more complex and are planned long before a particular president occupies the office. Several years ago, one of the ornaments featured LED lights.

I don’t put the Americana tree up often, but it usually coincides with an election year. Pictures are from this year’s tree. I also have many older Hallmark ornaments that feature everything from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument to Neil Armstrong on the moon and the Statue of Liberty. There are also many armed service ornaments and Bob Hope, who performed for the troops through 4 wars with the USO.

To get a closer look at all 40 ornaments or purchase the book, click here. All purchases support the White House Historical Association.

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One comment

  1. Your tree looks so good! I don’t have any of the White House ornaments personally but I know some people that do collect them, and am always curious about which one gets released each year!


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