The Captiol Christmas tree is shown lighted during a ceremony on the west front of the U.S. Capitol Dec. 2, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Snow people, snowflakes, star in White House holiday decor

Updated

WASHINGTON – New at the White House this holiday season: penguins, snowmen and snow women, and hanging snowflakes.

Returning this season: larger-than-life replicas of dogs Bo and Sunny, an 18 1/2 -foot Blue Room tree dedicated to military families, and a gingerbread White House - covered in dark chocolate, instead of white chocolate as in years past, and weighing in at nearly 500 pounds.

President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, expect to welcome more than 68,000 guests in the weeks before Christmas.

They’ll be greeted at the East Wing entrance by a family of plywood penguins before walking down a hallway with paper snowflakes hanging overhead. There’s one snowflake for each state and U.S. territory, along with others made by local schoolchildren who adorned them with hand-written wishes.

Outside the hallway windows, 56 snowmen and women, some wearing hats and scarves or earmuffs, look on from the first lady’s garden.

The first lady unveiled the decorations Wednesday, giving military families the first peek. Afterward, she led a group of children dressed in their finest clothes to the East Room where they prepared crafts and treats with help from the White House executive chef, head pastry chef and head florist.

People gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree after the lighting ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington Dec. 2, 2015. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
People gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree after the lighting ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington Dec. 2, 2015.
Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters
A woman takes a selfie in front of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree after the lighting ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington Dec. 2, 2015. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
A woman takes a selfie in front of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree after the lighting ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington Dec. 2, 2015.
Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Anna DeBolld, 10, from Soldotna, Alaska, light the Christmas Tree on Capitol Hill in Washington Dec. 2, 2015. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Anna DeBolld, 10, from Soldotna, Alaska, light the Christmas Tree on Capitol Hill in Washington Dec. 2, 2015.
Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters
Andrea Ebona, play drums and sings in honor of the Capitol Christmas tree on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Dec. 2, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
Andrea Ebona, play drums and sings in honor of the Capitol Christmas tree on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Dec. 2, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty
A worker decorates the Christmas tree on the West Lawn of the Capitol grounds, Nov. 27, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty)
A worker decorates the Christmas tree on the West Lawn of the Capitol grounds, Nov. 27, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, a 74-foot Lutz spruce taken from the Chugach National Forest in Alaska is lifted onto the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Nov. 20, 2015. (Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
The U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, a 74-foot Lutz spruce taken from the Chugach National Forest in Alaska is lifted onto the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Nov. 20, 2015.
Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
John Schank, the 2014 Alaska Truck Driver of the Year, boards the decorative truck that he drove to deliver the Capitol Christmas tree to the West Front of the US Capitol, in Washington, D.C., Nov. 20, 2015. (Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA)
John Schank, the 2014 Alaska Truck Driver of the Year, boards the decorative truck that he drove to deliver the Capitol Christmas tree to the West Front of the US Capitol, in Washington, D.C., Nov. 20, 2015.
Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA

White House

Snow people, snowflakes, star in White House holiday decor

Updated