Rules To Follow In The White House

Jan 27, 2021Roshanak

The president of the United States traditionally lives at The White House. However, it’s not just a home. It’s a building where lots of important business takes place, and the first family has to follow a bunch of rules. Did you know that the leader of the country cannot drive and cannot refuse security? There are also a bunch of traditions the first lady has to follow. Let’s find out more!

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THE TURKEY PARDONING

Most Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and the president of the country has a National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation annually. They celebrate and one turkey is saved. The first leader to do this was John F. Kennedy, and the rest have followed since.

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THE FIRST FAMILY CAN REDECORATE

The first family can decorate some areas of the White House, and there are some funds to help them. However, if they need something out of the budget, they have to pay for it themselves. Additionally, there are certain rooms that they cannot change, but keeping reading to find out why.

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THE FIRST LADY HAS TO CHOOSE THE DESIGNER

Normally, the first lady has to take an interest in redecorating for her family and gets to choose the interior designer. Melania Trump hired Tham Kannalikham, while Michelle Obama had Michael Smith add a little flair to her family’s new house when they moved in.

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THE FIRST LADY SHOULD GATHER WITH THE FORMER FIRST LADY

The coming first lady will always host the leaving first lady for tea before the inauguration. Laura Bush and Michelle Obama had theirs. She later continued this tradition with Melania Trump. It’s a lovely gesture of good faith in the coming government.

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THEY SHOULD HAVE A CHRISTMAS TREE THEME

Christmas is a big celebration at the White House. Jackie Kennedy was the first one to have a special holiday theme during her husband’s time in office. She decorated the oval Blue Room inspired by the ‘Nutcracker’ by Pyotr Tchaikovsky. Meanwhile, Melania Trump chose “American treasures” as the motif for 2018.

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THEY PARTICIPATE IN THE EASTER EGG ROLL

This event was first celebrated in 1878 on the grounds of the White House. Every president has hosted it annually since then. It was only skipped during World War II and when the building was going through a renovation. Can you imagine celebrating Easter at the president’s home?

Image Credits: Getty Images/The Washington Post

LIVE AT THE WHITE HOUSE

The White House is supposed to be the official home of the first family, but there have been several presidents that preferred their original homes. President Donald Trump and Melania did not move until the end of their son’s school year to avoid disrupting his studies.

Image Credits: Getty Images/John F. Kennedy Library

CANNOT OPEN THE WINDOWS

Due to security reasons, no one inside the White House can open its windows. It must get pretty stuffy at some point even with air conditioning. Some presidents and their families have talked about finally being able to breathe fresh air once they leave office.

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PETS ARE ENCOURAGED

Most presidents of the United States have family pets. It’s become a tradition at some point, especially because it softens the image of the leader. Most had dogs, but others had ponies and even raccoons. The new president has two dogs, Champ and Major. The latter is the first rescue dog to live at the White House.

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GOING TO THE WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS DINNER

The POTUS has to attend a yearly dinner at the White House in support of journalism scholarships, accolades, and more. It’s a celebration of the First Amendment. The first president to attend was Calvin Coolidge in 1924, and most presidents have followed suit since then.

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THEY PAY FOR THEIR FOOD

You might think that taxpayers fund the first family completely, but that’s not true. The president himself is accountable for his family’s groceries and has to pay every month. Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas are also his responsibility. Only a few official functions are covered by the government.

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THERE’S A PUTTING GREEN

Many leaders have had an interest in golf, and there’s a putting green right outside the Oval Office. It was changed to that location in 1995 by President Clinton. George W. Bush and Barack Obama were known for using it many times. However, the first putting green at the White House was installed in 1954 somewhere else on the grounds.

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PAY FOR CERTAIN BILLS

Aside from paying for their groceries, the first family also has to pay the costs of moving into the White House. This includes transportation and employees. They can reportedly use some funds from the presidential campaign to do it too. The Secret Service will provide security and check everything going into the house.

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HAS TO BE ACCOMPANIED BY SECURITY

Regarding the Secret Service, you should know that the POTUS and his family cannot refuse to have security. The vice president and his family as well need protection too. Once they leave office, a former president can decide to have security or not.

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PRESIDENTS DON’T DRIVE

Some presidents have commented on this rule, explaining that it was the worst part of being in charge. However, the leader of the country is not allowed to drive due to security reasons. The vice president also cannot be behind the wheel. But being driven around doesn’t sound so bad.

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THEY CAN PLAY VIDEO GAMES

The first family is allowed to live their lives as normally as possible. It seems that Obama’s daughters received a Nintendo Wii for Christmas in 2008. Apparently, their dad was a fan of Wii Sports. Additionally, video games were declared free and protected speech.

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PRESIDENTS HAVE TO USE PRIVATE PHONE LINES

This one seems pretty normal as presidents tend to discuss important matters on calls. So, they need to have secure phone lines. Some modern presidents have kept their personal phones but cannot use them except for games. There’s also a special cellphone issued by the White House that is checked regularly.

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THEIR KIDS GO TO PRIVATE SCHOOL

Due to tight security, this rule also sounds pretty reasonable. The president’s children normally go to private school, where classes are probably smaller, and it’s simpler to coordinate with the Secret Service. The only leader that did not follow that rule was President Jimmy Carter, as his kids went to public schools in D.C.

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ALWAYS USE AIR FORCE ONE

You might have heard about the president’s airplane, Air Force One. Well, all the leaders of the country have used this dedicated plane since Theodore Roosevelt. The plane itself is pretty amazing and not like a regular commercial flight. So, this rule seems pretty awesome.

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THEY CAN WATCH MOVIES FIRST

One of the perks of being part of the first family is that you might be able to see Hollywood movies before the rest of the world. Apparently, studios can easily send their films to the White House Family Theater. This cinema was built in the 1940s and has seating for 40 people.

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MEETING QUEEN ELIZABETH II

Queen Elizabeth II has been the monarch for over 60 years and has met every American president since Harry Truman. At the time, she was still a princess but visited Washington D.C. on an official trip. You might also remember the scene in Netflix’s ‘The Crown’, where JFK and Jackie visit Buckingham Palace. Well, that meeting actually happened.

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THE FIRST LADY SHOULD SUPPORT A PASSION

Normally, the first lady is always involved in a special cause close to her heart. Eleanor Roosevelt really influenced the host of a first lady to be more than just a hostess. Michelle Obama supported efforts to stop child obesity, and Jill Biden plans to revive Joining Forces.

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THE FIRST FAMILY DON’T HAVE POSITIONS IN GOVERNMENT

The first family will generally not be involved in the administration, but it’s not exactly a rule. It was considered a tradition. However, President Trump appointed his daughter Ivanka as an assistant to the president. She has helped him manage his foundation and several other businesses over the years. So, it made sense.

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PARTICIPATE IN THE WHITE HOUSE SNOWBALL FIGHT

Can you imagine having a snowball fight at the White House? Well, it’s apparently a huge tradition at the estate and the first family has to participate. However, Washington D.C. doesn’t always get snow. In 1834, President Andrew Jackson threw an indoor holiday party and a snowball fight happened.

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CELEBRATE CINCO DE MAYO

In 2001, President George W. Bush was the first one to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at the White House. This tradition has continued for almost two decades. The event honors Mexico’s victory over French troops in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Normally, Mexican dignitaries and artists are invited.

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STAYING AT BLAIR HOUSE

Blair House is the Presidential guest house, where important people stay. There’s also a tradition of incoming presidents staying there on the night before their inauguration. President Trump followed the custom as well as newly-elected Biden. It must be amazing to be part of this long-standing institution.

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THE FIRST 100 DAYS ARE CRUCIAL

A U.S president’s first 100 days are important because there are many bills and laws to be signed in that time. However, the amount has varied over the years. Roosevelt had 76 bills to pass, while Harry Truman signed 55 laws. President Trump did 28 bills during his first days.

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THE SECRET SERVICE PROTECTS THE CHILDREN TOO

Naturally, the children of the president are also protected by the Secret Service. They continue to have security after their parent leaves office. Once they turn 16, they can opt-out. If you grow up being watched all the time, they probably crave freedom after their parent is no longer president.

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PRESIDENTS DON’T NEED TO HAVE CASH

Naturally, the president of a country is relatively well-paid, but he doesn’t really need to carry cash or cards. It’s not exactly a rule. It’s just not necessary. Although presidents have to pay for many things around the White House, it’s normally added to a tab for convenience.

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THEY DON’T KEEP GIFTS

Presidents and the first family regularly meet with dignitaries and leaders from other countries. They also receive presents constantly. However, they don’t get to keep those things because they get them on behalf of the United States of America and the people. The presents are given to the National Archives and Records Administration.

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THEY CAN USE OLD PRESIDENTS’ THINGS

You don’t really have to move all your furniture to the White House. There’s a warehouse will a bunch of things that belonged to previous first families including fittings and even art. Some of the pieces in the collection are paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and Norman Rockwell.

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THEY STILL HAVE SOME FREEDOMS

While there are official cooks for the president and his family, there’s also an empty kitchen in the White House that they can personally use. It’s said that Hillary Clinton used to cook scrambled eggs for her daughter, Chelsea, all the time. Additionally, it helped them seem like a normal family.

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THE KIDS CAN SLIDE DOWN THE BANISTER

Can you imagine being silly at the White House? Well, many children have to grow up there, and apparently, they are allowed to have fun sliding down the banisters. The Obama girls and the Bush twins were known for doing it. Theodore Roosevelt’s children did it as well.

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CANNOT CHANGE HISTORIC ROOMS

Although the first family can decorate the White House to their taste, there are certain rooms that they cannot touch. The reason is that Jacqueline Kennedy lobbied for the White House to be declared a museum in 1961. Therefore, the building has an in-house curator, and there are 50,000 pieces in the permanent collection. But the first family can comb through this collection and choose what they want to put up.

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MOST FIRST CHILDREN HAVE CHORES TOO

Many presidents continue to instill certain values in their children so that they won’t grow up so out-of-touch. Chores are common for many of them, although it varies between families. Sasha and Malia Obama were reportedly tasked with making their beds and cleaning their rooms.

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THE FIRST PRESIDENT NEVER LIVED THERE

It’s important to know certain facts about the White House. George Washington was the first president of the country, and along with the other founding fathers, he chose the site of the estate in 1791. However, he never got to live there. His term ended in 1797. President John Adams and his wife Abigail were the first to live there in 1800.

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THEODORE ROOSEVELT PICKED ITS NAME

You might be surprised to learn that the White House didn’t always have that name. It has been the president’s residence since 1800, but it didn’t get a name until 1901 thanks to Theodore Roosevelt. It was originally called the president’s house or mansion.

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PRESIDENTS DON’T HAVE A KEY TO THE WHITE HOUSE

Most people have keys to their home, but no one in the first family really needs keys to the White House. They are always escorted by the Secret Service, and due to security, the doors are normally not locked to them. But there is a ceremonial key to the “north door”.

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons/I, Daniel Schwen, White House lawn, CC BY-SA 3.0

IT’S REALLY BIG

It might be called the White House, but it’s a huge estate. The building has six floors, 132 rooms, and 35 bathrooms. It also includes 8 staircases, 3 elevators, and 28 fireplaces. Can you imagine how big it is? Additionally, it’s said to be worth at least $400 million.

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THE ARCHITECT WAS NOT AMERICAN

Architect James Hoban is actually Irish, but his career in the U.S. began in Philadelphia in 1785. When the White House burned down in 1812, Hoban was brought back to oversee the reconstruction. That’s how regarded he was at the time. Did you think it was designed by an American?

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ACTOR TOM HANKS SENT A COFFEE MACHINE

A cool anecdote of the White House is that Tom Hanks is the reason why journalists can drink coffee in the press room. The actor received a tour in 2004 and noted that the room didn’t have a coffee machine. He bought and sent one back then. Hanks replaced it a few years later. In 2017, the actor decided to buy an expensive espresso machine with a note: "Keep up the good fight for truth, justice, and the American way. Especially for the truth part."

Image Credits: Getty Images/SAUL LOEB

Would you like to live in the White House? Let us know which one of these rules was the most surprising. If you liked this article, share it with your friends that dream of being president someday. See you next time!

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