Found in the Archives

How the Roosevelts Spent Christmas, 1936

As the holiday season approaches, we often get asked for details about how the Roosevelts spent Christmas in the White House. This memorandum describes the plans for Christmas 1936, including how the White House was decorated, the First Family’s schedule and house guests, and even procedures for opening presents. Christmas Eve activities concluded with the President giving his traditional reading of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol to his family.

Christmas was also a busy time in the White House mail room. In addition to all the holiday gifts that you see described in this memo, the Roosevelts received thousands and thousands of Christmas cards every year. According to another document we found, during the their first Christmas in the White House in 1933, the Roosevelts received 300,000 cards.

So may your holiday season be filled with joy and family, and be glad you don’t have to respond to 300,000 cards!