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It's beginning to look like Christmas at the White House

Charles Dharapak / AP

The White House Christmas Tree is seen during a press preview, Wednesday Nov. 30, 2011, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington.

Charles Dharapak / AP

First lady Michelle Obama, and White House pastry chef Bill Yosses, left, join children from military families as they decorate cookies at the White House on Wednesday.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The Gold Star Families Tree stands in the East Landing at the White House. The tree pays tribute to military service men and women who gave their lives to the nation and to their families, who can inscribe a ceramic gold star to decorate the tree.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

A replica of the White House made from 400-pounds of gingerbread, white chocolate and marzipan is on display in the State Dining Room on Wednesday.

AP reports:

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Small reproduction of the first family's dog, Bo, made from buttons stands on a table in The Red Room of the White House.

First lady Michelle Obama welcomed military families to the first viewing of the 2011 decorations on Wednesday. "Shine, Give, Share" is the theme for the Obama family's third Christmas in the mansion. The theme translates throughout the public viewing space from gold foil leaf trimming to shiny quartz ornaments.

Several decorations honor military families including a Gold Star Families Tree with ceramic gold ornaments carrying personalized messages by families. Tour visitors can also create handwritten notes for the troops.

The usual centerpiece of Christmas at the White House is the official tree, an 18½-feet tall balsam fir in the Blue Room. The tree is decorated with holiday cards created by military children, medals, badges and patches from all the military branches.

Full story here.

Previously on PhotoBlog: Obamas give White House Christmas tree the thumbs-up.

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Handcrafted tabletop trees made from recycled aluminum decorate The Green Room of the White House.

First lady Michelle Obama unveiled this year's White House Christmas decorations Wednesday with some special guests in attendance. NBC's Brian Williams reports.