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December 24th, 2012
08:43 AM ET

"Christmas With The First Ladies" Author Coleen Christian Burke: Christmas decorating at the White House is 'an enormous undertaking'

Celebrating Christmas at the White House is more than about lighting the national Christmas tree, a longstanding tradition. Each First Lady who comes to the White House brings with her a different style and set of traditions during the holidays. But they do get some help.

Coleen Christian Burke spent a year researching secrets of some of the most famous First Ladies when it comes to decorating the White House. Burke was even part of the 2008 White House decorating team, a long-time dream come true for her. The experience inspired her to write "Christmas With The First Ladies: The White House Decorating Tradition From Jacqueline Kennedy to Michelle Obama". She comes to “Starting Point” this morning to share some rare photos and talk about what goes into decorating the White House for the holidays.

“It’s an enormous undertaking,” Burke says about prepping and planning the White House Christmas. “And I like to say the First Lady is the Commander-in-Chief of Christmas. It’s her vision; we execute it, but it’s done with almost military precision.”

Burke explains that planning the White House Christmas theme begins in February or March of the year before. “And then a lot of work actually happens off-site where you’re pre-building and assembling everything,” she says. “Once the decorations are all put together, they are moved to the White House and there’s an enormous two-day install that goes on.” She describes it “like moving day at the White House.”

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