The White House Was Decorated by a Boston Company

Rafanelli Events worked closely with Michelle Obama to design holiday looks in twelve rooms.


Michele Obama greets visitors in the Vermeil Room. / Photo courtesy of Michael Blanchard

Rafanelli Events has designed the decor for state dinners and other official White House programs during the Obama administration, but they’ve never attempted to take on the holidays—until now.

It’s a big job to decorate the White House during a season when more than 68,000 people visit the halls, but the Boston and New York-based event design company was up for the challenge and executed designs in twelve rooms.

President and CCO Bryan Rafanelli and twenty members of his team worked closely with First Lady Michelle Obama and the White House Social Office on the plans. Together, with 100 volunteers from 35 states, the project took five days to install.

This year’s theme, Timeless Traditions, reflects cherished holiday ideals and showcases hand-cut paper snowflakes, silver bells, vintage fabrics and ribbons, and a garden of whimsical snowmen.

One decoration highlight, the White House Christmas Tree, is inspired by the stars and stripes of the American Flag and designed to honor the military. Messages to the troops from their families wind around the tree on a ribbon.

To focus on sustainability, 90 percent of the design uses repurposed ornaments and embellishments from the White House inventory.

“We are so pleased to have been able to execute this holiday vision by creating only ten percent of the design with new products and materials,” said Rafanelli in a press release.


The Red Room, with two trees draped in vintage fabrics and ornaments. / Photo courtesy of Michael Blanchard


The Blue Room has this year’s White House Christmas Tree, an 18.5-foot fir designed to honor the military. / Photo courtesy of Michael Blanchard


The Lower Cross Hall, with arched garlands and more than 4,000 bells. / Photo courtesy of Michael Blanchard


A family of penguins by the East Visitor Entrance and East Wing Hallway. / Photo courtesy of Michael Blanchard


The East Garden Room, with larger-than-life replicas of Obama dogs Bo and Sunny. / Photo courtesy of Michael Blanchard


Outside, 56 ‘snowpeople’ represent the states and territories of the United States. / Photo courtesy of Michael Blanchard