First lady Michelle Obama invited military families to scope out the holiday decorations Wednesday in the White House's newly decked halls. Then the first family's second dog grabbed the spotlight.
Two-year-old Ashtyn Gardner, of Alexandria, Va. took a tumble after encountering the Obamas' newest pooch, who was making the rounds. With a hand from the first lady, Gardner was quickly back on her feet and petting the dog.
The theme for Christmas at the White House this year -- Gather Around – celebrates coming together with loved ones during the holidays. As in years past, much of the décor honored military service members. After delivering remarks in the East Room, the first lady joined White House florist Laura Dowling and White House chefs Cris Comerford and Bill Yosses to make holiday crafts and snacks with the visiting kids.
The official White House Christmas tree, located in the Blue Room, towers at 18.5 feet high and about 11 feet wide. The Douglas fir came from Crystal Springs Tree Farm in Lehighton, Penn. In total, 24 trees will be on view on the public tour route.
The White House re-used more than 450 old books as part of the decorations. The books will be donated to a local school's book drive after the holidays. An edible replica of the White House, made with nearly 300 lbs. of bread dough, now stands in the State Dining Room. And for this year's replicas of first dogs Bo and Sunny, decorators used approximately 1,000 yards of satin ribbon.
The White House expects about 70,000 visitors during the holiday season.