The first lady, who describes her preferred style as "simple and elegant," said her main goal during the holidays is that guests be comfortable. It can be intimidating visiting the mansion.
"If they want to come black tie, that's fine. If they just want to wear a nice pantsuit, that's fine, too," she said.
For her part, the first lady builds a holiday and special occasion wardrobe when she has little chunks of time to shop and says she's grateful to her staffers for making helpful suggestions.
"I recycle things," she added. What she wears this year may be tucked into the closet and reappear in two years, or be mixed with something else.
The first lady credits her two right hands - mansion staffers Glen Reed and Tina Amburgey - with helping to lessen the stress.
Reed takes charge of mansion decorations, explaining her ideas to the first lady, such as the Santa theme in the library, the dark red roses in the main living area and the whimsical candy jars on the mantel of the dining room.
Amburgey helped compile the extensive invitation lists, which are built throughout the year and then organized by state region. Guests generally are invited by region, which guarantees people know at least a few people at the party.
Much of the holiday planning goes on year-round. Reed said she's already thinking about next year's decorations. The invitation list is a work in progress. Even the first lady thinks well ahead.
"In January, I'm already starting my Christmas shopping for the next year," she said.
Contact writer Monica Orosz at mon...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4830.