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Entertaining at the White House: Decades of Presidential Traditions by Jennifer B. Pickens

Entertaining at the White House: Decades of Presidential Traditions richly documents 60 years of entertaining customs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. With beautifully appointed design, it offers readers an insider’s invitation into the White House’s greatest events and intimate insight into the planning, innovation and unparalleled generosity that went into these occasions created by each of the first families, from the Kennedys to the Trumps.

With her usual fervor and congeniality, Jennifer B. Pickens portrays the pomp and pageantry of state dinners, the family-friendly festivities of popular American traditions and more hosted at the iconic address. Backed by thorough research and more than 400 photographs, many never seen before, as well as charming anecdotes from presidents, first ladies, White House staff and reporters, Pickens details how each first couple personally shaped social diplomacy and entertaining style at the Executive Mansion.

Traditions such as the Presidential Inauguration, annual Governors’ Ball, Easter Egg Roll, Fourth of July, Turkey Pardon and, of course, Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations during the most magical time at the historic home, are highlighted. Unique occasions such as the one and only White House prom, a dinner for the Apollo 11 astronauts, the White House 200th anniversary celebration, weddings and, most recently, First Lady Melania Trump’s dinners in honor of White House history are featured alongside scenes from private presidential retreats, where many first families not only found respite but also entertained important world leaders.

In addition to details such as invitations, place settings, flowers, china, food and fashion, Entertaining at the White House also spotlights the iconic performers at events during this time, from Bob Hope to America’s own amazing military musicians and vocalists.

With a foreword by First Lady Melania Trump, this unique tribute to presidential hospitality will delight entertaining enthusiasts and American historians alike.


Jennifer Boswell Pickens is a White House and First Lady expert, historian, author, speaker and event planner. As such, she has conducted numerous interviews with members of America’s first families, White House social secretaries, chiefs of staff, presidential aides, White House insiders and Executive Residence staff.

Her top-selling first book, Christmas at the White House, is the authority on the lavish decorations, themes and traditions of more than 50 years of the holiday season celebrated by America’s first families. Pets at the White House: 50 Years of Presidents and Their Pets gives historical accounts of the many animals that have called the White House their home and includes intimate stories and photographs depicting the relationships between first families and their beloved pets.

As a White House expert, Pickens has offered her insight on a host of national television and radio programs and has served on the Texas Historical Records Advisory Board, Friends of the SMU Libraries board and other prominent and civic boards. She is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and lives in Dallas with her husband and their four daughters.