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First lady unveils 'bright and beautiful' White House decor
Scripps Howard News Service


November 30, 2005

WASHINGTON - The White House halls are decked this year with fresh pears, tangerines, roses and lilies rather than the traditional holly and silver bells.

First lady Laura Bush selected elements of nature to bring light to the season, and chose hot pink, lime and tangerine to adorn the more than 200 boxwood wreaths, 580 feet of garland and 18 trees. She opened her home Wednesday to display decor based on the theme, "All Things Bright and Beautiful."

"Simple, yet elegant, decorations highlight creations from the natural world," she said.

jpg First Lady and Christmas tree

Mrs. Laura Bush stands next to the Blue Room Christmas tree, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2005, as she answers questions during the press preview of the White House Christmas decorations.
White House photo by Shealah Craighead

About 45,000 people will walk through the floral wonderland during the holidays, the first lady said. More than 9,000 of those guests will attend one of the 26 Christmas parties hosted by the Bushes.

The rest of the country can peak inside with the HGTV network special presentation, "White House Christmas 2005," which will debut Dec. 7 (8 p.m. EST).

Presidential guests will be greeted with the scent of pine wafting from the White House Christmas tree, an 18-foot Fraser fir from North Carolina. Workers removed a chandelier from the Blue Room to accommodate the tree, grown in Laurel Springs, N.C.

Wearing a skirt of moss, the fir holds hundreds of white lilies. It is trimmed with crystal balls and garlands of glass bubbles.

Even the transparent test tubes used to hydrate the lilies on the main tree and fuchsia roses on trees in the East Room serve as decorations.

jpg First Lady and Gingerbread House

Mrs. Laura Bush stands before the White House gingerbread house, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2005, as she answers questions during the press preview of the White House Christmas decorations.
White House photo by Shealah Craighead

A small cranberry table tree draws visitors' attention to the center of the Red Room, which is festooned with white tulips.

This year's theme stemmed from Bush's love of gardening, said her chief of staff, Susan Whitson.

"She's an avid gardener, a lover of the outdoors," Whitson said.

Flowers and fruits will require extra attention this season, said White House Chief Florist Nancy Clarke. Many live items will be replaced to maintain the fresh look throughout the holidays.

"We're going to be busy," she said.

White House Pastry Chef Thaddeus DuBois built a gingerbread replica of the North Portico of the White House for the State Dining Room. He used 100 pounds of gingerbread and150 pounds of dark and white chocolate to create the house, complete with trees and presidential pets in the yard.

On Wednesday, the first lady also unveiled the White House Christmas card, which will be sent to about 200 countries. This year's artist, Jamie Wyeth, painted night scene of a snow-covered magnolia tree in front of the mansion. The tree, planted during Andrew Jackson's presidency, is the oldest on the lawn, Bush said.

All of the decorating put the first lady into the holiday spirit - so much so that she asked her husband what he wants to find in his Christmas stocking.

His first answer? Nothing. Then, like any husband, he reconsidered, and suggested that a sweater might be nice, Whitson said.

The HGTV White House special will run 10 more times after its Dec. 7 debt, including Dec. 25 at 10 a.m. EST. Joan Steffend of "Decorating Cents" will host the show.


HGTV is owned by the E.W. Scripps Co.
Distributed to subscribers by Scripps Howard News Service,

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