First-Dog Topiaries With Wagging Tails: Christmas at the White House

Photograph by Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks with two-year-old Ashtyn Gardner during the White House Christmas decorations viewing on Dec. 4, 2013.

A short time after President Barack Obama delivered an Obamacare pep talk today, the White House unwrapped its 2013 holiday decorations with the theme “Gather Around.”

Over 83 volunteers from around the country helped White House staff adorn 24 Christmas trees, including the official tree, from Pennsylvania, which stands nearly 19 feet tall.

Most of the decorations are “handmade volunteer crafts and recycled classic pieces,” the White House says.

On a day on which the president identified the inequities of income in America as “the defining challenge of our time,” the staff unveiled an edible White House replica in the State Dining Room made of almost 300 pounds of dough — and 1,000 yards of satin ribbon were used to create topiaries of the first dogs, Bo and Sunny.

This year’s topiaries have mechanical wagging tails.

“This is a new step, ” First Lady Michelle Obama said.  ”We’re stepping up in the world of Bo and Sunny honoring.”

The real first canines made an appearance with her at a sweets and crafts party for military children. Sunny became so enthusiastic about the festivities that she caused a little girl to fall.


The first lady told the military families gathered in the East Room that they were seeing the holiday décor before the president.

“Nothing can be broken that can’t be repaired,” she told them. “My kids have broken it if it can be broken.”

Sixteen of the holiday volunteers served in the military or were relatives of fallen soldiers. Mary Byers of Nashville stood by the East entrance landing where a tree stands decorated with an ornament with a photograph of her son, Joshua Byers, who died in Iraq in 2003.

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