Behind the Scenes of HGTV’s White House Christmas Tour

Posted on Dec 22 2014 - 4:29am by Suzanne De Vita
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White House Christmas

All photos courtesy of HGTV.

Each December, HGTV takes audiences at home on a jolly jaunt through the White House. The hour-long special, which aired on Dec. 14, showcases a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the home’s holiday décor. And it’s just as merrily mind-blowing as you’d expect.

Tasked with decorating 132 rooms spanning six floors, over 100 volunteer decorators and scores of in-House team members make the impossible possible. This year, each room underwent a complete transformation to reflect the unique whimsical nature of a child’s perspective (the FLOTUS’ theme this year was ‘A Children’s Winter Wonderland’), bringing to life décor that will be viewed by 65,000 visitors this season.

But this is the White House we’re talking about. From virtual reality and animatronics to a tech-ed out gingerbread house, anyone lucky enough to walk these halls will not be disappointed. Behold Christmas, First Family-style.

Digital Décor
And you thought your timer-controlled lights were fancy. The White House debuted a digital snowscape in the East Garden Room, combining the interactivity of a video game with 3D reality. Those in passing appear in the projection, transporting them into their very own winter wonderland.

White House Dog OrnamentsNot to be outdone, Bo and Sunny, the Obamas’ Portuguese Water Dogs, were personified in their most lifelike replicas yet: chicken wire, ribbon and mechanisms that supported motion. Robotic dogs – aren’t those on everyone’s wish lists?

Vintage Amusement
No holiday party is complete without a board game. Crowd favorite Scrabble, which has been around for 75 years and counting, served as inspiration in the State Dining Room, where decorators crafted oversized letter tiles for the tree and mantle. Fingers crossed for an Obama vs. Biden wordsmith showdown once the holidays are over.

Scrabble Christmas Tree White House

In a nod to Rudolph, the East Room housed folk carousel deer on loan from an Ohio museum, evoking a sense of entertainment from a time gone by. In the same room, volunteer decorators blew the dust off old books, repurposing them as ornaments; in the Red Room, snow-dusted miniature villages were nestled between antique glass trees.

Edible Arrangements
Aside from preparing White House-worthy meals, the First Family’s chefs spend months each year piecing together a scaled gingerbread model of the home. The crown jewel this year required approximately 250 pounds of pastillage, 80 pounds of gingerbread dough and 40 pounds of marzipan. LED bulbs lit the sugar-sculpted trees surrounding the mouthwatering property.

The festive foodie fun didn’t end there. The Red Room is traditionally decorated with cranberries, so culinary artists fashioned cranberry-esque floral centerpieces made out of sugar. Gingerbread ornaments (sans baking soda) adorned the tree in the China Room – and it’s entirely likely they have their own Secret Service detail to protect them from hungry guests.

Suzanne De Vita
is RISMedia’s Online Associate Editor and social butterfly. Her bucket list includes securing a spot on the White House volunteer decorator list.