President Trump's penchant for unpredictability has spread from his Twitter account to the White House social season.
State Dinner for British High Joint Commissioners in 1871; President Dwight D. Eisenhower, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, Queen Elizabeth II, and Prince Philip before a state dinner during the queen's first official state visit in the United States.
An invitation to the White House was the coveted invite in the nation's capital for years. State dinners and receptions during holiday season feature some of the most glamorous parties in Washington.
And while each administration has made its mark on how to entertain at the most famous actress in America, Trump has raise questions about what kind of parties will be had—if any at all.
As a candidate Trump gave mixed messages as to whether he would hold a state dinner. The First Lady’s office told Capitol File, as of mid-October, no state dinner was in the works. President Obama and Bush both had their first in their first year in office.
And whom a president chooses for such an honor is a greatly scrutinized, delicate dance of politics in diplomacy involving the West Wing, the East Wing, the National Security Council, and the State Department.
“It’s a high honor to host a leader for a state visit, particularly the first one,” said Anita McBride, a board member of the White House Historical Association who was chief of staff to Laura bush. “It’s a very fluid situation. There are world events that shaped these decisions.”
Bush hosted the president of Mexico for his first day dinner, to signal he wanted to focus on the Americas. Obama hosted the Indian prime minister in a dinner that became remembered for Tareq and Michaele Salahi showing up uninvited.
It typically takes an army of staff from the two governments at least two months to plan such an occasion, and it’s up to the president and first lady to decide the details such as the décor, flower arrangements, menu, entertainment and, most importantly, the guest list. The Trumps could go as extravagant or simple as they wish.
What also takes months of planning is the Christmas season. The plans for decorating the White House and a December full of parties typically begin in July.
“That was always one of the odd, odd things about the White House. You would be sweltering in the Washington summer heat and looking at Christmas décor,” said Tina Tchen, who was chief of staff to Michelle Obama.
Volunteers come in the weekend after Thanksgiving to decorate state rooms in the White House, according to a theme park by the first lady.
The holiday season typically kicks off with the Kennedy Center Honors, which is the trumps decided not to attend this year after some of the unreason and they would boycott the White House reception that precedes the event.
“Maybe they’ll replace it with something else,” mused McBride.
Given first lady Melania Trump‘s level of tradition, which she highlighted her first White House Easter egg roll, it would seem a given that some events—the congressional bowl, the media party, and hosting military families—will continue
But nothing is certain with this president, who has had prickly relations with Congress, including members of his own party, and the press.
The holiday parties, however, can be a time for all sides to come together.
“It was a great opportunity to bring everyone together. It was great to see Republicans and Democrats together for the Congressional Ball.
It was great to see members of media who, sometimes you have your disagreements during the course of the year but have a drink together in a beautiful setting,” Tchen said.
And, noting the October mass shooting in Las Vegas, she recalled the Obama White House, after such tragedies, would invite the families of victims to social events.
“One of the small things we could do for some families was to invite them to the Easter Egg Roll or invite them to Christmas so they would get solace during what would otherwise be a very tough time," she said. "It’s not something we talked about a lot. It was just something we did."
No matter what kind of parties the Trump White House decides to throw this holiday season, they should expect a house full of guests—despite their critics and those who have refused invitations in the past.
“For every one of those, I have to say, there will be plenty of people want to come to the White House,” McBride said.