Since 1981 the White House Historical Association has released a commemorative Christmas ornament annually as a fundraiser for education and collections projects at the White House.
The first ornament was a hand-crafted miniature replica of an 1840 weathervane from Charlestown, Massachusetts. President and Mrs. Reagan hung it on the Christmas tree in the Blue Room.
In honor of the 250th anniversary of George Washington's birth in 1982, the second White House ornament replicated the dove of peace weathervane Washington placed at Mount Vernon.
In 1983 the ornament featured the White House, as it appeared when John Adams was President. Since then, the ornaments have focused on each President, in order of their term of office. The 2010 ornament features President McKinley.
Important milestones and anniversaries are sprinkled in between the Presidents themselves. For example, in 2000 the ornament commemorated the bicentennial of the White House. In 2002 the ornament honored the 100th anniversary of President Theodore Roosevelt's extensive White House restoration.
Not every ornament includes a portrait of the President himself. Many honor a special aspect of the holiday season associated with the President. For example, the 2008 ornament featured a Victorian Christmas tree inspired by President Benjamin Harrison. His was the first documented Christmas tree in the White House.
Each ornament, even back as far as the original 1981 design, is available for purchase from the White House Historical Association. Bulk orders for museum shoppes and other venues are also available.
Each ornament includes a detailed informational brochure, including biographical data about the President, highlights of his administration, and history of the era. The brochures also feature resources for further reading and a selection of related historic sites to visit.
The White House Historical Association ornaments are fun to collect and to give as gifts. Collectors look forward to the reveal of the current design every year!