The White House hired Barneys creative director Simon Doonan to lend a hand this week in decking out the White House for the holidays. However, officials would not reveal what exactly his official elflike role entails (tree-trimming? garland draping? cookie frosting?). The theme this year is "Reflect, Rejoice, Renew," and so green-minded decorations include LED lights, dried hydrangeas rescued from old floral arrangements, and "root materials" gathered from the White House kitchen garden. Of course, unlike our own typical seasonal traditions (a mini-tree, a few strands of lights, strong nog), adorning the White House is a major production: The eighteen-and-a-half-foot tree in the Blue Room is covered with 800 ornaments from previous administrations; the East Colonnade is lined with four dozen magnolia-leaf wreaths, painted red; and the gingerbread White House — complete with a tiny Bo the dog out front and a miniature marzipan carrot and cabbage garden — weighs 400 pounds and took more than six weeks to construct. Besides the East Wing and residence staff (and Mr. Doonan's doubtless decorative flair), 92 volunteers assisted in sprucing up various rooms of the House with pepperberries, Fraser firs, sugar pine cones, and honeysuckle. There will be eleven open houses and seventeen holiday parties throughout the season to show off the fancy trimmings, but security has been tamped down since the Salahi debacle — Social Office staff will be present to assist guests "should any confusion arise," according to an e-mail from the First Lady's office.
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