For many Americans, Christmas is an opportunity to share the holiday spirit, spread good cheer, and casually one-up neighbors by having the most epic decorations on the block. While the White House adornments will no doubt be Pennsylvania Avenue's main attraction, how do they compare to past years' décor? Given that 2020 will be President Donald Trump's last year in office, it's maybe worth looking at how previous presidents rang out their final holiday season in the White House. These photos of Trump's versus Obama's final Christmas decorations in the White House may give you a tinge of nostalgia for a very different time.
When it came to Christmas at the White House, the Obama family liked to keep things jolly. After serving a full two terms, Obama spent his last holiday season as president expressing his gratitude to the American people. "I just want to express what an incredible honor it has been to serve this nation," he said in a December 2016 speech, right before his final Christmas tree lighting ceremony. "It has been so special to share these eight years with all of you," he added.
That year, the Christmas theme was "The Gift Of The Holidays," and the White House decorations were warm and even a bit playful. Over 200,000 LEGO toy blocks were used in decorating the state dining room, per People magazine, and a team of two master LEGO builders spent around 500 hours designing and building Christmas-themed decorations. The decorations included two smiling LEGO gingerbread men and 56 LEGO gingerbread houses to represent each U.S. state and territory. The houses were cozily rested in fir trees around the fireplace, and the gingerbread men stood guard on either side of Abraham Lincoln's portrait. Other photos from that year show hallways lined with cheerful snowmen wearing scarves and earmuffs, guarding the White House's more historic adornments.
Compared to the Obama's whimsical 2016 decorations, the Trump's 2020 Christmas adornments seem a little . . . tame? This year, it doesn't seem like Melania's keen on taking trying anything outlandish, which honestly is maybe a good thing. On Nov. 30, first lady Melania revealed the White House holiday decor, and it was a far-cry from the meme-worthy blood-red trees and spooky white hallways of previous years.
According to a White House press release, the theme for the 2020 holiday is "America the Beautiful," and the Trumps kept it pretty traditional. The public rooms of the White House were decorated with very traditional red, white, and gold decorations, while a hallway in the East Wing features bunches of greenery in urns.
The Trumps' starkly decorated gingerbread White House is perhaps the most telling sign of their traditionalism. Constructed from 275 pounds of gingerbread dough and 25 pounds of royal icing, the first family had plenty of opportunity to get creative with the details. Instead, this year's White House confection was pretty, but kind of bland.
But back in 2016, the Obama's gingerbread White House included not only wreaths, but also huge gingerbread elves, snowmen, and even what appears to be the Obamas' two Portuguese water dogs, Sunny and Bo, created in miniature. When compared to the Obamas' 2016 gingerbread White House, which was filled with cheery personal details, the Trumps' final gingerbread house almost feels cold.
Maybe some of the difference boils down to the fact that President Donald Trump doesn't want to admit it's his final Christmas in office. Although his loss to President-elect Joe Biden has been confirmed multiple times, Trump continues to deny that Biden won the 2020 election. "If certain very important people, if they have wisdom and if they have courage," Trump said during a crowded Dec. 9 holiday party at the White House, "we’re going to win this election in a landslide," he continued. On Dec. 15, the Electoral College clearly confirmed Joe Biden as the next president of the United States, despite Trump's continued efforts to refute the election results.
Either way, their final decorations are pretty different than previous years. During the Trump's first Christmas at the White House in 2017, the holiday décor was compared to a haunted forest and mocked for supposedly containing Dementors. And who could forget 2018's infamous blood trees?
Of course, Twitter came in clutch with the jokes, playing off how the decorations looked more frightening than festive.
On Oct 1, 2020, secret recordings from Melania Trump's former aide, Stephanie Winston Walkoff, were released to the public. These recordings were reportedly taken in 2018, just after Melania's first round of holidays at the White House, and she had a lot to say. "I'm working my ass off with this Christmas stuff that, you know, who gives a f*ck about Christmas stuff and decoration?" Melania said, audibly upset. The White House did not previously respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the recording.
During the last few weeks of their one-term run in the White House, it seems like the Trumps aren't interested in taking any style risks. Maybe they're both sick of public scrutiny and want to present an immaculate image, or maybe — just maybe — they really don't give a f*ck.