The Willard debuts its own 'White House' Christmas tree

Christmas can be Presidential in the lobby of the Willard Hotel Intercontinental Washington. Photo: White House Historical Association

WASHINGTON – The Willard Intercontinental Washington has seen and made a lot of seasonal and national history in its more than 150 years of providing hospitality.

The hotel’s latest headliner is its own “White House” Christmas tree in the lobby where local lore says the term “lobbyist” was coined during the Ulysses S. Grant presidential era. The tree is adorned with the full White House Historical Association ornament collection. 

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Christmas at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C.

The association began what has become a beloved tradition in 1981 by introducing a new ornament to honor a president or special White House event each year. The tree “gems” have become coveted collectibles for millions of Americans and others around the world. The 2013 Woodrow Wilson ornament honors the president who, in 1916, conducted his quest for world peace in the Willard lobby.

That vision led to the founding of the League of Nations, precursor to the United Nations.

Those who want to start or add to their ornament collection may find these very presidential pieces at The Shop at President’s Square, 1610 H Street on Lafayette Square.

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Ornaments and glitter aren’t all there is to enjoy this season in The Willard’s grand lobby. Pastry Chef Gary O’Hanlon’s U.S. Capitol made entirely of gingerbread will be on display. And there’s the annual lobby lineup of free choral concerts by DC Metropolitan area choral and vocal groups as a nightly event (except Sundays) from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. through December 23. Click here for a schedule of Willard Hotel lobby celebrations

Concert visitors may want to combine a choral performance with lunch or dinner in Café du Parc, or afternoon tea accompanied by a live harp in Peacock Alley. Those with reservations get complimentary valet parking.

The Willard’s location in a busy central DC district gives guests a great vantage for other fun and traditional Christmas and holiday treats. These may include the Pageant of Peace on the Ellipse, and theater treats – The Nutcracker at The Warner, or Christmas Carol at the Ford Theater. Pre-theatre dining at Café du Parc can include a prix fixe menu for $42 per person, available through December 30 (except Christmas Day).

For guests who want to stay the night at the Willard, special rates are available December 20-30 that start at $179 per room per night.

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The nation’s capital is a great place to celebrate Christmas and the rest of the holiday season. The Willard’s seasonal treats will fill your stocking with fun and fantasy!


Read more of Ruth Hill’s columns at Contemporary Christian Travel in the Washington Times Communities.

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Ruth Hill

Ruth Hill writes for magazines and newspapers about the business and pleasures of travel. Read more about her views and news of Christian heritage travel around the world at

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