Bo himself made an appearance during Wednesday's festivities, sporting a jingle bell collar, and was quickly swarmed by young guests.
This year's decorations include lots of handmade items that could easily be done at home, including patriotic wreaths and ornaments wrapped in red, white and blue yarn to fit with Mrs. Obama's emphasis on supporting military families.
The gargantuan gingerbread house, however, is not a feat for amateurs to attempt: It contains more than 175 pounds of gingerbread and modified gingerbread and more than 50 pounds of chocolate. Pastry chef Bill Yosses mixed up a combination of wheat, rye and white-flour gingerbread that mimics the color of the sandstone house prior to 1798, when the house was first painted white.
More than 90,000 visitors are expected to pass through the White House this holiday season.
Executive chef Cristeta Comerford said she's drawing on the recipes in Mrs. Obama's gardening book, "American Grown," as she prepares food for all the guests. The treats will include sweet potato quick bread, green beans with almonds and a winter salad featuring fennel.
The massive decorating job - there are 54 live Christmas trees in the White House - comes together in just five days, with the help of 85 volunteers from around the country. This year's volunteers included Nellie Funk, a military wife from Carlisle, Pa., who was working beside retired homicide detective Tracy Jacobson from Southern California.
Asked which job was more fun - detective or decorator - Jacobson deadpanned: "This has been much more fun."