30 NOVEMBER 2007

The festive season got well and truly underway in the US this week as First Lady Laura Bush kicked off celebrations at the White House. On Thursday she unveiled this year's Christmas decorations.

The President's wife - who, as tradition dictates, is responsible for selecting a theme for the holiday festivities - began thinking about this year's decorations back in March. And on Thursday, she proudly unveiled what she had chosen.

"This year's theme is 'holidays in the national parks'," said Laura, who is coordinating the Christmas decorations at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the seventh time. "And that's what those ornaments on the big Blue Room tree represent. We sent a big ornament out to every national park - 391 of them - and they had an artist decorate the balls in some way that represents our national parks."

The baubles adorn an 18-feet-tall Christmas tree. "We have to remove the chandelier from the Blue Room because the tree is so big," explained President Bush's wife.

And there will certainly be no shortage of festive food for the first family's guests this party season. A white chocolate replica of America's most famous residence has been prepared by the chefs. "It's gingerbread inside," revealed the First Lady. "And then the whole outside of it is white chocolate. And it looks so magnificent. It's done almost to scale. It really looks like the south entrance of the White House."

The first family's pet pooches are even involved in the giant cake. "Barney and Miss Beazley are in Santa's sleigh on the roof," she added.

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The First Lady shows off a magnificent white chocolate and gingerbread replica of her home made by a White House chef. In a sleigh on the roof are figures depicting the First Couple's two dogsPhoto: © AFP
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In line with Mrs Bush's chosen theme for this year each bauble represents one of America's 391 national parksPhoto: © AFP
Photo: ©
"We have to remove the chandelier from the Blue Room because the tree is so big," she revealed Photo: © AFP