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Literary-Inspired Decoration Ideas for a Horrifying White House Christmas

This year, the White House continues its theme of horrifying holiday decor by imitating a hallway from The Shining. This follows the infamous 2018 hallway of blood-red trees, suggesting that the visitor has somehow wandered into a carnivorous forest. What ordinary citizens don’t know, however, is that this is part of a deliberate strategy! The White House is reviving the old tradition of telling spooky stories around Christmas, albeit through the medium of pine trees and strange ornaments. We’ve managed to get our hands on some proposals for next year’s decor.

Shirley Jackson

Focusing on Shirley Jackson will bring to the forefront what we really mean by asking for a return to the family values of the 1950s: a suffocating “us or them” mentality, undergirded by homophobia, anti-semitism, and misogyny, that can only be alleviated by murder.

Wander through New England pines decorated with ornaments from Faberge’s newest line of “American Poisonous Mushrooms.” The sense of creeping unease only continues the farther you go, and you begin to see, behind the trees, all the unfriendly faces of all the townspeople that hate and fear you. 

Visitors will initially complain that all tickets to see the White House Christmas display are now distributed through a lottery system, but when the tour ends in a locked room filled with large piles of rocks, the reasoning behind this will become abundantly clear.

The Crucible

Keep the witch hunt going all year round! Return to the values of our founders by turning the White House into an early Puritan settlement whose oppressive atmosphere terrifies visitors guilty of wrong-doing into flinging wild accusations at each other to deflect suspicion. There’s only the dark and undecorated woods, where witches may lurk, the devil is ever-present, and your fears of human sexuality twist these metaphysical terrors into real, physical forces of evil.  

Return to the values of our founders by turning the White House into an early Puritan settlement.

Children will love the Kids’ Corner, where they can pile rocks on top of a stuffed Giles Corey in a Santa hat until he breaks in two. It’s edutainment! 

Edgar Allen Poe

This year we’re exchanging “ho, ho, ho,” for “Poe, Poe, Poe!” The White House will be transformed into an ancient and crumbling mansion where the leaves on all the trees are crispéd and sere, large black cats dog your footsteps, and ravens sit croaking “Nevermore!” on pallid busts of Pallas above the chamber doors.

Pry up the floorboards to find your very own red sequined heart ornament to take home. Press the button to hear it beat! Visitors can also find excellent refreshments at the end of the tour by following tour guide Montresor into the wine cellar. For god’s sake, check it out! 

The Exorcist

Christmas is a religious holiday after all! Make it somber. Fill the White House with priests from the nearby Georgetown University. Nothing gets a Christmas party started like solemn chants in Latin to drive the devil out.

Plus, this will serve as a great reminder that if the Republican repeal of Obamacare goes through, an exorcism is the best and cheapest way to treat projectile vomiting. 

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Exorcist feel too Catholic? Keep religious fundamentalism at the heart of the season by repurposing the red trees from 2018! Add a white bonnet on top, in lieu of a bonnet, and boom, we’re in Gilead. 

Legislatively, this administration already wants to go there. Why not make it obvious? 

H.P. Lovecraft

This year, we won’t fight over saying, “Happy Holidays!” or “Merry Christmas!” We’ll say, “Cthulhu fhtagn!” In this H.P. (it stands for HapPy) Christmas extravaganza, visitors will be transported to the sunken city of R’lyeh. Deck the halls with ornaments of vile, mind-arresting creatures marked by their fearsome and unnatural malignancy, and banners full of undecipherable characters. 

Deck the halls with ornaments of vile, mind-arresting creatures marked by their fearsome and unnatural malignancy.

Visitors will love our crafts corner. (Get it?) The kids can make their own Deep Ones ornaments with sculpting clay. Combine together as many disparate animal parts as you like and take home your own eldritch horror as a fun souvenir!

Bonus: this author’s understanding of racial diversity perfectly fits this administration’s! No need to update anything for a modern audience.


This novel’s framing device, a doomed arctic voyage, inspires our plan for the bleak and desolate foyer, where one sees only the smallness of man in the vast power of uncaring nature. Then, in the usual tree hall, we’ll get kids interested in STEM at a young age by seeing how you can put together great monstrous trees by combining bits and pieces of smaller dead ones! 

If they don’t want to take their awful new creations home with them, they’ll learn a valuable lesson: the sooner you can learn how to deny responsibility for your actions, the better. 

The post Literary-Inspired Decoration Ideas for a Horrifying White House Christmas appeared first on Electric Literature.

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