WASHINGTON – Military families were welcomed into the White House Wednesday for cookies, cider and crafting as the holiday decorations were presented to the public for the first time this holiday season.
First lady Michelle Obama greeted the families in the East Room and then took the children to the State Dining Room for cookie decorating.
“I have to tell you that your presence here today is a powerful reminder for all of us about what this season is really all about,” Obama told the families. “So often we get caught up in the holiday rush, all of the plans and the logistics … the making your list and checking it twice. … But ultimately, that’s not what this season is about. It’s really about serving others. It’s about giving more than we receive. And it’s about showing those we love how much they mean to us.”
This year’s theme is “A Children’s Winter Wonderland.” Each of 14 rooms and 26 Christmas trees in the public rooms represent a sense of pureness that the holidays bring through the eyes of children.
There was, however, a modern twist among the traditional decorations. Winners of a 3D printing ornament design contest were placed throughout the decorations. More than 300 designs were submitted by students, engineers, artists and designers from across the country in the challenge, which was also sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and Instructables, a website that specializes in 3D printing projects.
There are also animated statues of Bo and Sunny, the first dogs, which were equipped with motion sensors allowing them to turn and look at visitors as they pass by.
A total of 106 volunteers, 20 of whom have been in the military or have family in the military, helped decorate the White House. Nearly 65,000 visitors are expected to see the decorations throughout the holiday season.