Whether its by an expedition through the woods to chop down a spruce, or a last-minute run to the trailer in the parking lot; the Christmas tree, no matter how it’s brought home has become an American tradition. And like any other Americans, the family living in the big white house on Pennsylvania avenue has tradition surrounding their holiday evergreen as well.

The tradition of a placing a decorated tree in the White House began in 1889 during the Presidency of Benjamin Harrison. Harrison, who gave turkeys and gloves to his employees for Christmas was the first president to have a tree.

And what began as a family gathering has become a national tradition. Through the years, the White House Christmas tree has personified the First Family, and has been an inspiration in representing both the times and tastes of the country.

In 1895, for example, Grover Cleveland’s First Lady Frances Cleveland created a “technology savvy” tree, which donned electric lights (a white house first).

Thee ever-fashionable Jackie Onassis, started the tradition of Christmas tree themes in 1961 when her tree was decorated with toys from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.

Today the tradition continues as each first lady selects her own theme which is usually a sign of the times. In 2001, current First lady Laura Bush chose “Home for the Holidays” which represented the family homes of many of the past Presidents.

In 1998 Hillary Clinton themed her tree a “Winter Wonderland” and trimmed the tree with snowmen, mittens and hats.

Pictured above, the Nixon’s tree represented each of the 50 states with ornaments made by disabled workers in Florida.

So, don’t be afraid to go all out on your Christmas tree theme. It is after all, an American tradition.

Merry Christmas!