During this year’s holiday season, 50,000 visitors are expected at the White House (also known colloquially as the “People’s House,” as it belongs to all Americans). “We are grateful to be able to welcome Americans home,” first lady Jill Biden said, referring to this year’s return to a full complement of visitors to the decorated executive mansion.
Throughout its hallways and stately rooms, in the shining bells and the mirrored ornaments, “you will see your own reflection — a reminder and a request to see yourself in this house,” the first lady said to members of the press as she unveiled the 2022 holiday decorations.
In fact, “We the People” is this year’s theme for the decorations, which include 83,615 holiday lights, 77 Christmas trees, 25 wreaths and a gingerbread house adorned with 18 kilograms of icing.
The theme reflects “the foundation of our extraordinary country and the soul of our nation,” Biden said. “At the holidays, Americans come together each year in fellowship and faith, reminding us that we are stronger in community than we are apart.”
Thanking the 150 volunteers who helped to spruce up the White House for the winter holidays, the first lady was accompanied by National Guard members and their families — invoking the memory of the Bidens’ late son, Beau, a former National Guard member. “As a fellow National Guard mom and grandmom, I wanted to welcome National Guard families to help us open this holiday season as my honored guests,” Biden said. “Your service is the embodiment of ‘We the People.'”
“The values that unite us can be found all around you: a belief in possibility, optimism and unity,” she said. “Room by room, we represent what brings us together during the holidays and throughout the year.”
The State Dining Room focuses on children, because the idea of “We the People” also embodies the promise of the next generation. Celebrating the childlike wonder of the season, the room’s decor includes the traditional Biden family stockings for Santa Claus to fill on Christmas Eve, “always with an orange in the toe (a tradition from the first lady’s grandmother),” according to the White House.
Continuing the theme of “We the People,” a sugar-cookie replica of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and a gingerbread replica of the White House — with a copy of the Declaration of Independence as a backdrop — adorn the State Dining Room.
Also, a nearby Christmas tree is festooned with ornaments crafted as self-portraits by students from across the country, ensuring that children see themselves in the holiday display.
The decor of the Vermeil Room (French for gilded silver) represents how Americans show appreciation for each other and give back to their communities. The room is stacked with homemade gifts waiting to be discovered on a neighbor’s porch, and whimsical elements — life-sized depictions of the Biden family’s cat, Willow, and German Shepherd dog, Commander — add a humorous touch.
In the China Room, which houses tableware used by past presidential families, the design revolves around food and family traditions. There are reminders of cherished recipes passed down through generations, including a copy of the first lady’s apple crisp recipe card, resting on the fireplace mantel along with seasonal greenery.
Mirrored ornaments bearing the names of fallen service members encircle trees in the East Wing lobby. “The ‘Gold Star trees’ honor the heroic men and women of our nation’s military who have laid down their lives for our country, those who are missing in action and the families who carry on their legacies,” the White House says.