Inspiration > Christmas with the First Ladies

First Ladies Collection by Coleen Christian Burke

July 05, 2017

Coleen Christian Burke set out to write a book about the specific Christmas styles of the First Ladies in the White House.

As a three-time member of the White House Christmas decorating team, Coleen Christian Burke has served First Ladies Laura Bush and Michelle Obama. She has teamed up with Fitz and Floyd to design a collection which is inspired by the holiday traditions of the First Ladies. The unique collectible pieces in this collection are focused specifically on the traditions of Jackie Kennedy and Nancy Reagan.

Nancy Reagan brought Hollywood glamour and romance to Christmas at the White House. Thousands of sparkling gold snowflakes dazzled on every tree, playful teddy bears stole the hearts of visitors, and the President was even known to steal a kiss under the mistletoe from his favorite First Lady! Mrs. Reagan changed the sweet history of White House Gingerbread Houses when she innocently added a trail of jelly beans, President Reagan's favorite candy, to the gingerbread houses. This magical moment is captured with jelly beans sprinkled all over the First Ladies Gingerbread Cookie Jar, Pitcher, Christmas Ornament, Dated Bell and Musical. Other signature touches of Mrs. Reagan's holiday style are snowflakes, Teddy Bears, elongated candy cane hearts, jelly beans and mistletoe.

A large red sleigh is an iconic holiday decoration in the White House. The sleigh has been used by many First Ladies at Christmas time. Mrs. Reagan used the sleigh in the East Room surrounded by snowy Christmas trees. It was filled with toys and presents, with a wreath hanging at the front of the sleigh. The sleigh has all of Mrs. Reagans favorite touches such as snowflakes, teddy bears and mistletoe.

In 1961, Mrs. Kennedy introduced the concept of a Christmas theme, now a beloved White House tradition that has endured for over fifty years. The Kennedy White House collection captures the joy of Jackie's very first White House theme, The Nutcracker. Iconic images of Clara and the Nutcracker represent the classic Christmas ballet that Jackie loved. Jackie’s trees were trimmed in blue ribbon, with vintage candles and candy canes. Folklore tells us a PT Boat hung on the tree, to honor the patrol boat commanded by the Lieutenant Junior Grade John F. Kennedy. This boat was sunk by a Japanese Destroyer in WWII, making JFK a national hero.

In addition to creating a White House Christmas for all to behold, the Kennedy family hung white stockings with pompoms and hand sewn embellishments on the fireplace for Santa. The First Ladies White Stocking Vase is complete with white pompom trim and nostalgic embellishments, just like the stockings hanging on the Kennedy fireplace on Christmas Eve.

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