An article in Monday’s New York Times details the incredible amount of time, energy and man power that goes into entertaining at the White House over the holiday season. By the numbers? Bakers prepare over 500 hundred pounds of dough to serve roughly 25,000 holiday cookies (some of which look like Bo and Sunny, Obama’s dogs) for nonstop parties throughout the three-week season.
The chaos begins the day after Thanksgiving, when nearly 100 volunteers venture to a warehouse on the outskirts of Washington to gather the materials — which includes 62 trees, over 70,000 ornaments and roughly 4,000 bells — to prep the White House for 20 holiday parties.
Other party preparations include deep-frying thousands of latkes, pitting dates for hors d’oeuvres and mashing sweet potatoes. The planning for the holidays is so extensive that it begins in March.
“The holidays really are an all-hands-on-deck time frame for us, where every single shop in the house has to step up, and a lot of behind-the-scenes work has to take place before we get to the actual finished product that we all get to enjoy,” said Angella Reid, the chief White House usher who oversees a huge amount of logistics, from electric wiring to floral arrangements.
“Our mission is really to make sure that whatever we do is unseen,” she continued. “I sometimes describe it as Disney — you throw the pixie dust, and it all looks perfect.”
Here are some more numbers to put it all in perspective: Roughly 1,600 pounds of lamb chops, 1,200 pounds of potatoes and 45 turkeys will be consumed.
Lea Berman, a former social secretary for Mrs. Bush, told The Times just how chaotic the so-called “most wonderful time of the year” can get.
“It is probably the most daunting time of the year because you have a series of events, so much planning has gone into it, and for weeks before you know the behemoth of Christmas is looming.”
We’re still waiting for our invite to the extravagant holiday festivities…but in the meantime, we’ll be baking and eating cookies pretty much nonstop.
— Maria Yagoda, @mariayagoda