WASHINGTON, D.C. — “Bo-flakes” featuring the first dog and ornaments fashioned from zippers are among the new twists on traditional favorites at the White House this Christmas season.
First lady Michelle Obama unveiled this year’s decorations before an appreciative crowd of military families Wednesday, then spent some time doing holiday crafts with military kids.
The theme for this year’s decorations is “Joy to All,” but first dog Bo seems to steals the show.
There are 40 “Bo-flake” ornaments throughout the White House that feature cutout images of the dog.
There’s a life-size replica of the dog, with a string of lights in his mouth, in the East Garden Room.
And there’s an outsized statue of the Portuguese water dog next to the 300-pound gingerbread house in the State Dining Room.
Mrs. Obama said that reflects Bo’s high standing at the White House.
“He’s almost as big as the house,” she declared. “He is such a huge personality.”
Visitors also will get a Bo bookmark that sends them on a scavenger hunt for “Bo-ornaments” stashed in eight rooms.
Bo himself made an appearance during Wednesday’s festivities, sporting a jingle bell collar, and was quickly swarmed by young guests.
This year’s decorations include lots of handmade items that could easily be done at home, including patriotic wreaths and ornaments wrapped in red, white and blue yarn to fit with Mrs. Obama’s emphasis on supporting military families.
The gargantuan gingerbread house, however, is not a feat for amateurs to attempt: It contains more than 175 pounds of gingerbread and modified gingerbread and more than 50 pounds of chocolate. Pastry chef Bill Yosses mixed up a combination of wheat, rye and white-flour gingerbread that mimics the color of the sandstone house prior to 1798, when the house was first painted white.
More than 90,000 visitors are expected to pass through the White House this holiday season.
Executive chef Cristeta Comerford said she’s drawing on the recipes in Mrs. Obama’s gardening book, “American Grown,” as she prepares food for all the guests. The treats will include sweet potato quick bread, green beans with almonds and a winter salad featuring fennel.
The massive decorating job – there are 54 live Christmas trees in the White House – comes together in just five days, with the help of 85 volunteers from around the country. This year’s volunteers included Nellie Funk, a military wife from Carlisle, Pa., who was working beside retired homicide detective Tracy Jacobson from Southern California.
Asked which job was more fun – detective or decorator – Jacobson deadpanned: “This has been much more fun.”
School children pet Obama family dog Bo, as First lady Michelle Obama looks at the holiday crafts the children were creating during a visit to the State Dining Room in the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. The crafts were part of the preview of the holiday decorations at the White House. The theme for the White House Christmas 2012 is Joy to All. School children were also in the State Dining Room decorating holiday treats. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)×
The official White House Christmas tree, an 18-foot-6-inch Fraser fir from Jefferson, N.C., sits in the Blue Room of the White House.×
A life-sized replica of the Obama family dog, Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, is the centerpiece of the East Garden Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. The theme for the White House Christmas 2012 is Joy to All. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)×
A Christmas tree decorated in a rainbow of colors sits next to a statue of President Lincoln in the East Garden Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. The theme for the White House Christmas 2012 is Joy to All. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)×
Olivia Marlow, 6, looks at a tree honoring presidential first ladies that is on display in the White House.×
AP photo Volunteer Paulette Marini describes the decorations on the tree in the East Landing of White House.×