Updated Nov 29, 2023 - Politics & Policy

In photos: Jill Biden unveils White House 2023 holiday decor

The East Room of the White House's holiday decor, which includes a mini White House and multiple Christmas trees and numbered blocks.

The East Room has a 'Countdown to Christmas' theme. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

First lady Jill Biden unveiled the White House's 2023 holiday decor this week, along with an ice rink on the South Lawn.

This year's theme: "Magic, Wonder and Joy," which the first lady said was inspired by how children experience the season.

The big picture: Jill Biden recalled her childhood skating on the Delaware River as she took to the new rink Wednesday — sans skates — for the opening.

  • The rink is not open to the general public, and rather by invite for children of military families, frontline workers, first responders and local school children.

Meanwhile, many of the decorations were candy-inspired, and some of the ornaments were made by children. Letters to Santa and to President Biden from kids across the country were also on display.

A screenshot of two Twitter photos by first lady Jill Biden showing White House Christmas decorations with the caption: "We have Santa’s magical sleigh suspended in the air in the Grand Foyer, a working train running around the Official White House Christmas Tree, and a Gingerbread White House that celebrates the 200th Anniversary of a childhood favorite, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas!"
Photo: First lady Jill Biden/White House/X
First lady Jill Biden speaks alongside US figure skater Brian Boitano during the unveiling of the holiday ice skating rink on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images
Figure skater Kimberly Navarro performs during the unveiling of the holiday ice skating rink on the South Lawn of the White House on Nov. 29. Photo: Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images
The Red Room at the White House with two Christmas trees decorated with lots of lights and ornaments.
The Red Room has a holiday crafts theme. If you look closely you'll notice decorations like popcorn strings. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
A close up of Christmas tree decorations including a spaceship and a truck.
A closeup of some of the decorations in the State Dining Room. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
A hallway in the White House decorated with large pieces of candy hanging from the ceiling.
Candy and sweets decorate the ceiling between the East Wing and the residence. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
A child's bedroom display set up in the White House Library with a bed, window displays and multiple Christmas trees.
The library has a 'bedtime' theme. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
A sweet shop with a baking display full of candy, cookies  and pretend cooking materials.
More sweets! This time in the China Room. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
Multiple Christmas trees surround a fireplace with a giant stocking hanging over it.
The Cross Hall includes a bunch of trees and a giant stocking. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
A large gingerbread house modeled after the White House.
The White House gingerbread house in the State Dining Room. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
The official White House Christmas tree with a model train driving around it.
The official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room includes a model train driving around the tree. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
A closeup of a Christmas ornament made by a child.
A closeup of a kid-made ornament. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
A closeup of a garland and ornaments decorating a banister.
A close-up of decor in the Cross Hall. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios
A fake cat modeled after Willow, the Biden's feline.
Willow, the White House cat. Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

By the numbers: It took over 300 volunteers from around the country working a full week to decorate the inside and outside of the White House. The display includes:

  • 98 Christmas trees
  • Over 33,800 ornaments
  • Over 142,400 lights

The gingerbread White House was made with 40 sheets of sugar cookie dough, 40 sheets of gingerbread dough, 90 pounds of pastillage (a hard-drying cake decorating paste), 30 pounds of chocolate, and 50 pounds of royal icing.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details on the ice rink and a post to X by first lady Jill Biden.


Want more stories like this? Sign up for Axios PM

Go deeper