I'm dreaming of a White House Christmas: Michelle Obama shows off her lavish decorations

For most people, a single Christmas tree, a string of lights and some baubles are enough.

If you're the Obamas, however, decking the White House halls with boughs of holly was always going to require a little more work - 3,400 man hours to be exact.

The US President and his wife are celebrating the festive season with recycled ornaments, natural materials and, of course, a gingerbread White House.

Spectacular: An 18ft Douglas Fir, is positioned in the centre of the White House's Blue Room

The 390lb work of culinary art is covered in white chocolate and has a marzipan replica of family dog, Bo.

'Reflect, Rejoice, Renew' is the theme for the Obama family's first Christmas in the White House.

Showing off the decorations, Mrs Obama said the theme was chosen because her family spends the holidays reflecting on its blessings, rejoicing in the company of friends and family, and renewing their commitments to each other and causes they believe in.

The most wonderful time of the year: Michelle Obama shows off the White House Christmas decorations flanked by officials and two of its many fir trees

Winter wonderland: This year's theme at the White House is Reflect, Rejoice and Renew

Tis the season: Christmas decorations adorn the entrance to the West Wing as a Marine stands guard

'I wanted to continue that part of the tradition during our first holiday season at the White House,' she said at an event where she also thanked more than 90 volunteers from 24 states who have completed the transformation.

'And this year has been filled with an infinite number of blessings for me and my family,' she added.

Inspiration for the decorations came from the house itself, with Mrs Obama choosing traditional decorations to reflect the architecture and colour scheme of each room of the Georgian-style mansion.

Blaze of glory: The Red Room features two Christmas trees dressed with scarlet bows and baubles

Finishing touches: A wreath of berries winds across the fireplace

Natural materials such as magnolia, hydrangea, honeysuckle vine and pepper berries decorate trees and wreaths in rooms on the State Floor, along with dried root materials from her vegetable garden on the South Lawn.

The centre-piece is in the Blue Room: an 18ft Douglas fir that was delivered last Friday. It is lit with LED lights, decorated with huge gold ribbons and bows and more than 650 ornaments from prior administrations. To keep it upright it is tied to the ceiling.

The ornaments were sent to local community groups around the country with instructions to decorate them in tribute to a favourite local landmark and return them to the White House.

Impressed? White House pastry chef Bill Yosses smiles as he shows off a marzipan and chocolate sculpture of the executive mansion, on display in the State Dining Room. The Obama's pet dog Bo is in the foreground

Additions: New features this year include the First Lady's vegetable patch (left) and a cutout that gives viewers a look inside into the State Dining Room

Landmarks honoured range from the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore to the Kennedy Space Center and, one of Mrs Obama's favourites, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, the Obama family's hometown.

Two 15ft fir trees were placed on either side of the main doorway into the Blue Room, and decorated with reflective shimmering glass balls, claret-coloured beaded glass branches, red bows, gold pine cones and other trimmings.

Another highly anticipated part of Christmas at the White House is the gingerbread replica.

Natural: Staff used natural materials from the White House gardens to create features such as this garland in the Green Room

Deck the halls: A view of the Green Room complete with red tree in the window

It took six weeks for executive pastry chef Bill Yosses and his staff to create the white chocolate-covered gingerbread White House, as seen from the South Portico, with green royal icing wreaths adorning its windows.

Two new additions to the gingerbread house this year are Mrs Obama's garden, complete with marzipan vegetables, and a cutout that gives viewers a look inside the gingerbread State Dining Room, with a lit chandelier and furniture made of dark chocolate.

More than 50,000 people are expected to attend a total of 28 holiday parties and open houses the White House has scheduled this month. The first such event came Tuesday night in the East Room, honouring the volunteer decorators.

Nativity scene: The model has been placed in the East Room of the White House

The White House trees weren't the only famous trees lit in America yesterday: Here the lights of the 77th Annual Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree are switched on at a ceremony in New York last night

'I heard you all partying last night,' Mrs. Obama told about a dozen volunteers who attended the preview. 'You had a great time.'

The first lady, festively dressed for the occasion in a bright green, sleeveless dress also announced that White House staffers will collect toys for the US Marine Corps Reserve's annual 'Toys for Tots' drive.

She also announced the launch of the United We Serve 'Feed a Neighbour' initiative, a government effort to help communities fight hunger, which has reached its highest levels in nearly 15 years.


Christmas 2004: Laura Bush shows off a string of spectacular trees covered in fake snow and icicle decorations

Christmas 1994: Hillary Clinton poses with a more modest gingerbread house, a replica of her husband's childhood home

Christmas 1986: Ronald and Nancy Reagan are dwarfed by a towering tree in the Blue Room