Lights shine on the National Christmas Tree in front of the White House on Dec. 1 in Washington. President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha, helped press the button to light the illuminate the Colorado blue spruce.
The Red Room of the White House is seen during a Christimas tour of the famous residence. Overall, there appear to be fewer trees and decorations than in years past -- and the same is true of the Christmas card list. Several hundred thousand have been mailed out, paid for by the Democratic National Committee.
The Blue Room is adorned with a Fraser fir from Dan and Bryan Christmas Trees in nearby Shepherdstown, W. Va. The first known Christmas tree at the White House was during the tenure of Benjamin Harrison, who helped trim one in the upstairs library with friends, family and staff. "We shall have an old-fashioned Christmas tree for the grandchildren upstairs and I shall be their Santa Claus myself," Harrison exclaimed.
•Story: Obamas rescue ornaments from Christmas past.
White House pastry chef Bill Yosses poses next to a marzipan and chocolate sculpture of the executive mansion in the White House's State Dining Room. This year's 56-inch-by-29-inch recreation of the White House weighed in with 140 pounds of gingerbread coated with 250 pounds of white chocolate.
A replica of the first dog, Bo, is placed on the annual gingerbread house in the State Dining Room. This theme for this year's White House Christmas is "Reflect, Rejoice, Renew."
Portraits of former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson are seen in the Cross Hall near the staircase to family quarters at the White House. Like the Obamas, past presidents and first ladies have set a thrifty tone during the holidays in austere times.
Christmas trees are seen on the White House's State Floor. The 2009 official White House ornament commemorates the 24th president of the United States, Grover Cleveland.
Holiday greenery sits beneath the portrait of President John F. Kennedy at the White House in Washington.
A large wreath is seen hanging in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Overall, about the same number of guests will visit the White House this holiday season as in years past, although there will be a slightly smaller number of parties and receptions, according to White House aides.
The entrance to the West Wing of the White House is framed by Christmas trees and holiday lights in Washington. Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961 began the tradition of establishing a decorating theme for White House Christmases, selecting "The Nutcracker Suite."