AARP MEMBER DISCOUNTS SEE MORE

December at the White House

The White House is decorated for Christmas during December every year. Even before you enter the State Dining Room, you can smell the gingerbread. The White House gingerbread-house tradition began during the Nixon administration, and has been continued ever since.

Since 1961 the Christmas tree in the Blue Room (another stands in the East Room) has reflected themes. In 1974 the Fords' Christmas tree ornaments emphasized thrift and recycling. In 1991 the Bushes' tree featured needlepoint figurines. Holiday cards created by military children, as well as ornaments with patches, medals, and badges representing all branches of the military adorned the Obamas’ 2011 Christmas tree.

December is far and away the most difficult time of year to secure a tour. The White House is able to accommodate fewer than 10% of the tour requests it receives.

Easter Egg Roll

Kids have been rolling Easter eggs at the White House since at least 1878. Over the years the Egg Rolls have evolved into elaborate affairs with bands and bunnies. The event is held the Monday after Easter, from 8 am to 7 pm on the South Lawn of the White House. Tickets are distributed via an online lottery system. Each group has to include at least one child 13 years old or under and no more than two adults.

For the most up-to-date information on the Easter Egg Roll, call the White House 24-hour information line at 202/456–7041.

Planning a Visit

You can request a free tour of The White House anywhere from three weeks to six months prior to your visit; spaces are very limited so the earlier the better. Citizens of the U.S. must submit tour requests through their representative or senator. Each member of Congress has his or her own procedures and requirements for tour requests. You can find their contact information online at www.house.gov and www.senate.gov. Don't be reluctant to contact your Congress member—they and their staff have lots of experience handling such requests. Some will even invite you to meet with them and talk about your interests and concerns. If you aren't an American, contact your country's embassy to see if they can help you get a tour.