First Children’s Christmas Party at the White House

First Children’s Christmas Party at the White House

by Sandra Merville Hart

President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams didn’t have the warmest of homes at the White House in 1800.

Their Pennsylvania Avenue home, built near a swamp, was drafty and cold. Large fires crackled in thirteen fireplaces to warm their home.

In 1800, as Christmas approached the President and First Lady decided to host a children’s Christmas party. Their four-year-old granddaughter, Susanna Boylston Adams, lived with them and they wanted to honor her.

Greenery was hung to decorate the East Room. Government officials and their children were invited to the party.

A small orchestra played while guests munched on cakes and drank punch.

They sang Christmas carols and played games. The party was a great success with one exception.

One of the children accidently broke a gift of Susanna’s—a doll dish. Susanna grabbed her friend’s doll and bit of its nose in retaliation, which wasn’t very nice. The President stepped in before the situation got too out of hand.

Christmas parties soon became a tradition at the White House. Occasionally these were children’s parties in those historic early presidencies. Other parties were elegant affairs.


About Sandra Merville Hart

Award-winning author Sandra Merville Hart loves to uncover fascinating historical facts for her novels and stories. She was an editor and writer for DevoKids for several years and is now Executive Editor. She’s excited to be part of this fun, educational, and inspirational ministry for children.



“Background: Winter Holidays at the White House,” White House Historical Association, 2019/11/03


Christmas in America in the 1700’s and 1800’s, World Book, Inc., 2007.

“Christmas Traditions at the White House Fact Sheet,” White House Historical Association, 2019/11/03


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