Natural Home & Garden Goes to Washington

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The Blair House Jackson Entry features heirloom apples and homemade citrus-slice ornaments.
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Recycled glass domes from Arhaus top soy candles.
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Better Homes and Gardens decorated the Blair House garden with ethereal floating ornaments.
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Secretary Clinton honored State Department employees whose duties kept them away from their families during the holidays.
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton greets our publisher, Bryan Welch.
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Associates III's Cassandra Coombe gets busy.
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The traditional 9-foot tree in the Blair House bay window dazzles with hundreds of natural quartz crystals and superefficient LED lights.
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Découpage gives vintage ornaments, found on eBay, new life.
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Arhaus Bird and Finch vases are made from recycled glass.
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Ten Thousand Villages' dried flower mistletoe balls—handmade in Peru from eucalyptus, wheat, caspia and salal—grace the Blair House Jackson Entry staircase.
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VivaTerra's holiday trees made of birch bark shavings were among dozens of holiday trees in our design.
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We showcased VivaTerra lanterns (made of reclaimed Indian beer bottles) in the State Department.
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Martha Stewart Living's pink candy theme graced the Blair House Dining Room.
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Our sister publication, Mother Earth News, adorned the Jackson Sitting Room's marble fireplace with a bushel of heirloom wheat and trees covered in peace dove cookies bearing flags of the world.
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VivaTerra's reclaimed metal temple bells, angels handmade from oil drums washed up in Haiti, and organic, wild-harvested cedar and hydrangea blend elegance with sustainability.
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Handmade recycled newspaper and cardboard trees, "planted" in terra cotta pots, top a table of gifts wrapped in recycled paper. (Find instructions to make both trees at
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We wrapped traditional amaryllis plants in packing material.
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A VivaTerra quartz crystal ornament is one of hundreds to adorn the traditonal Blair House Christmas tree, visible to passersby on Pennsylvania Avenue.
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The Jackson Conference Room celebrates our nation's abundant natural resources with cotton buds, live holiday trees from a local garden center, and Seeds of Joy wreaths made with organic, wild-harvested fir, salal and eucalyptus.
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Managing editor Jessica Kellner, assistant editor Kim Wallace, editor-in-chief Robyn Griggs Lawrence, publisher Bryan Welch and technical editor Tabitha Alterman gather in front of the Blair House Christmas tree.
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Washington, D.C., designers J.D. Ireland Interiors graced the State Department's Monroe Room conference table with mini holiday trees made from boxwood sprigs.
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This Old House brought 1940s memorabilia to the Truman Study.
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Traditional Home's Lee Dining Room showcases classic decor.

Decorating some of Washington D.C.’s most venerated buildings isn’t for the faint of heart–but last November, our staff got the opportunity of a lifetime. In the first-ever Magazine Holiday Design Showcase, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) invited us and five other magazines to deck the halls of Pennsylvania Avenue. Joined by editors and designers from our sister publication, Mother Earth News, as well as Martha Stewart Living, This Old House, Traditional Home and Better Homes and Gardens, we descended upon the capital to translate our mission and aesthetic into inspired holiday décor for Blair House, the presidential guest house across the street from the White House, and the State Department’s Harry S. Truman Building, used for hosting foreign dignitaries and heads of state.

Working with designers from Denver’s Associates III and Washington, D.C.’s J.D. Ireland Interiors, we honored the historic spaces using handmade crafts made from recycled materials and luxurious, natural decorative items from some of our favorite retailers and manufacturers. We chose tasteful, minimalist pieces that have a story to tell: angels made from old oil drums by Haitian artisans; fragrant eucalyptus mistletoe balls made by a Peruvian cooperative; jars and bells made from recycled glass. “Christmas and many other holidays center on cherished traditions,” VivaTerra owner Bonnie Dahan says. “Many people rediscover collections of ornaments that bring back memories each year. That, in itself, is a form of reuse. VivaTerra creates distinctive, often reinvented seasonal décor that respects the natural world. We hope our designs will be handed down to generations to come as part of this earth-friendly legacy.”

Christmas trees–traditionally a symbol of peace and unity–anchored our designs. We bedecked 15 live trees from nearby Merrifield Garden Center with homemade citrus-slice ornaments and découpaged vintage glass balls. The Blair House’s traditional 9-foot tree–visible to passersby on Pennsylvania Avenue–shimmered with natural quartz crystals and LED lights. We also made a few trees of our own. In Blair House, we “planted” a newsprint Christmas tree centerpiece and recycled cardboard trees in terra cotta planters. At the State Department, the J.D. Ireland team decorated trees made of boxwood trimmings with handmade wool doves and Ten Thousand Villages ornaments made by artisans from around the globe.

Be sure to check out the image gallery for pictures of the Blair House and the State Department decorated for the holidays!


oil drum angels, temple bells, wild-harvested holiday centerpiece, birch bark trees, Seeds of Joy wreaths, quartz crystal ornaments

Ten Thousand Villages
handcrafted mistletoe balls, holiday ornaments

Arhaus Furniture
recycled glass hurricanes, candle holders, vases

LED holiday lights

Merrifield Garden Center
live local evergreen trees

Nashville Wraps
recycled gift wrap  and gift bags

SERRV International 
fair-trade, organic chocolate