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A Christmas display honoring the troops adorns the east landing of the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Gold star ornaments with the names of fallen troops hang on the tree, and mailboxes and care packages symbolize the thoughts sent to the troops during the holiday season. This year, visitors can send notes to the troops via the iPads that surround the tree.

A Christmas display honoring the troops adorns the east landing of the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Gold star ornaments with the names of fallen troops hang on the tree, and mailboxes and care packages symbolize the thoughts sent to the troops during the holiday season. This year, visitors can send notes to the troops via the iPads that surround the tree. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

A Christmas display honoring the troops adorns the east landing of the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Gold star ornaments with the names of fallen troops hang on the tree, and mailboxes and care packages symbolize the thoughts sent to the troops during the holiday season. This year, visitors can send notes to the troops via the iPads that surround the tree.

A Christmas display honoring the troops adorns the east landing of the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Gold star ornaments with the names of fallen troops hang on the tree, and mailboxes and care packages symbolize the thoughts sent to the troops during the holiday season. This year, visitors can send notes to the troops via the iPads that surround the tree. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

Gold star ornaments adorn a Christmas tree that pays tribute to fallen troops at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015.

Gold star ornaments adorn a Christmas tree that pays tribute to fallen troops at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

Bald eagle ornaments adorn a Christmas tree that pays tribute to military troops at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. The tree is also adorned with gold star ornaments inscribed with the names of fallen troops.

Bald eagle ornaments adorn a Christmas tree that pays tribute to military troops at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. The tree is also adorned with gold star ornaments inscribed with the names of fallen troops. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

A Christmas display honoring the troops adorns the east landing of the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Gold star ornaments with the names of fallen troops hang on the tree, and mailboxes and care packages symbolize the thoughts sent to the troops during the holiday season. This year, visitors can send notes to the troops via the iPads that surround the tree.

A Christmas display honoring the troops adorns the east landing of the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Gold star ornaments with the names of fallen troops hang on the tree, and mailboxes and care packages symbolize the thoughts sent to the troops during the holiday season. This year, visitors can send notes to the troops via the iPads that surround the tree. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

Hand-cut snowflakes fill the ceiling of a hallway above decorating volunteer Trevor Smith at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of holiday decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015.

Hand-cut snowflakes fill the ceiling of a hallway above decorating volunteer Trevor Smith at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of holiday decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

Fifty-six snowmen adorn the grounds of the White House, representing the 56 states and territories. First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of holiday decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015.

Fifty-six snowmen adorn the grounds of the White House, representing the 56 states and territories. First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of holiday decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

First Dogs Bo and Sunny are recreated with nearly 55,000 feet of yarn knitted into 7,000 pom-poms as part of a Christmas display including tennis ball Christmas trees at the White House. Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of holiday decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015.

First Dogs Bo and Sunny are recreated with nearly 55,000 feet of yarn knitted into 7,000 pom-poms as part of a Christmas display including tennis ball Christmas trees at the White House. Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of holiday decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

First Dogs Bo and Sunny are recreated with nearly 55,000 feet of yarn knitted into 7,000 pom-poms as part of a Christmas display including tennis ball Christmas trees at the White House. Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of holiday decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015.

First Dogs Bo and Sunny are recreated with nearly 55,000 feet of yarn knitted into 7,000 pom-poms as part of a Christmas display including tennis ball Christmas trees at the White House. Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of holiday decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

Volunteer Nancy Barsotti shows off Christmas trees paying homage to the 2,700 books housed in the White House library on Dec. 2, 2015. Ornaments include handcrafted book ornaments and snowmen with quote scarves.

Volunteer Nancy Barsotti shows off Christmas trees paying homage to the 2,700 books housed in the White House library on Dec. 2, 2015. Ornaments include handcrafted book ornaments and snowmen with quote scarves. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

A Marine plays the piano during First Lady Michelle Obama's preview for military families of White House holiday decorations on Dec. 2, 2015.

A Marine plays the piano during First Lady Michelle Obama's preview for military families of White House holiday decorations on Dec. 2, 2015. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

Ornaments adorn a Christmas tree at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families.

Ornaments adorn a Christmas tree at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes military families to the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families.

First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes military families to the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

First Lady Michelle Obama thanks a military child who presented her with a hand-decorated cookie at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families.

First Lady Michelle Obama thanks a military child who presented her with a hand-decorated cookie at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

A youngster chats with First Lady Michelle Obama during a cookie-decorating event at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Obama was hosting a preview of White House decorations for military families.

A youngster chats with First Lady Michelle Obama during a cookie-decorating event at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Obama was hosting a preview of White House decorations for military families. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

Military children react with excitement upon seeing First Dogs Bo and Sunny during a cookie-decorating event at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a preview of White House decorations for military families.

Military children react with excitement upon seeing First Dogs Bo and Sunny during a cookie-decorating event at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a preview of White House decorations for military families. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

A girl squeezes some icing during cookie decorating event at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families.

A girl squeezes some icing during cookie decorating event at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

First Lady Michelle Obama chats with the children of military families at the White House during a cookie decorating event on Dec. 2, 2015 . Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families.

First Lady Michelle Obama chats with the children of military families at the White House during a cookie decorating event on Dec. 2, 2015 . Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

First Lady Michelle Obama helps Piper Charbonneau, a daughter of a Marine, load her bag with goodies at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families.

First Lady Michelle Obama helps Piper Charbonneau, a daughter of a Marine, load her bag with goodies at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

First Lady Michelle Obama lends a helping hand to a boy overloaded with cookies and popcorn at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Obama hosted a preview of White House decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015.

First Lady Michelle Obama lends a helping hand to a boy overloaded with cookies and popcorn at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Obama hosted a preview of White House decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

The White House gingerbread house anchors one end of the State Dining Room on Dec. 2, 2015. This year's house weighs nearly 500 pounds, with more thtan 150 pounds of chocolate, and is the first year the East and West Wings have been added. First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of White House decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015.

The White House gingerbread house anchors one end of the State Dining Room on Dec. 2, 2015. This year's house weighs nearly 500 pounds, with more thtan 150 pounds of chocolate, and is the first year the East and West Wings have been added. First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of White House decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

One youngster steals a bite while decorating cookies at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a preview of White House decorations for military families.

One youngster steals a bite while decorating cookies at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a preview of White House decorations for military families. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

A gumball machine adorns a corner of the State Dining Room at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of White House decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015.

A gumball machine adorns a corner of the State Dining Room at the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a preview of White House decorations for military families on Dec. 2, 2015. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

A Christmas tree made of faux shells at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families.

A Christmas tree made of faux shells at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

Cicilia Wong-Lopez, whose husband is in the Navy, introduces First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families. Wong-Lopez, from Alexandria, Va., was among volunteer decorators who decked out the executive residence.

Cicilia Wong-Lopez, whose husband is in the Navy, introduces First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. Obama was hosting a preview of White House holiday decorations for military families. Wong-Lopez, from Alexandria, Va., was among volunteer decorators who decked out the executive residence. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

A bust of Abraham Lincoln sits next to a Christmas tree decorated with tennis balls in the East Garden Room of the White House on Dec. 2, 2015.  First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a preview of holiday decorations for military families.

A bust of Abraham Lincoln sits next to a Christmas tree decorated with tennis balls in the East Garden Room of the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a preview of holiday decorations for military families. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

White House Executive Pastry Chef Susan Morrison helps a military child decorate a cookie at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a preview of the White House holiday decorations for military families.

White House Executive Pastry Chef Susan Morrison helps a military child decorate a cookie at the White House on Dec. 2, 2015. First Lady Michelle Obama was hosting a preview of the White House holiday decorations for military families. (C.J. Lin/Stars and Stripes)

WASHINGTON — A few lucky military families got an early boost of Christmas spirit Wednesday when the White House invited them over for an exclusive preview of this year's holiday decorations.

First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the preview as part of the Joining Forces initiative, a national campaign to support servicemembers and their families, and as a way to thank the troops and their families for their service.

As part of the event, the families got a sneak peek ahead of an estimated 68,000 people who are expected to visit the White House during the holiday season. The children also got to decorate cookies with Obama and meet First Dogs Sunny and Bo in the State Dining Room, which boasts a gumball tree made up of nearly 4,000 gumballs and a 6-foot-tall teddy bear.

This year's theme, "A Timeless Tradition," is comprised of more than 62 trees, more than 70,000 ornaments, larger-than-life sized replicas of Sunny and Bo, and a nearly-500 pound gingerbread house replica of – you guessed it – the White House. The house is made up of 150 pounds of dark chocolate, 250 pounds of gingerbread dough, and 25 pounds each of gum paste, sugar work and icing.

For the first time this year, guests – instead of writing handwritten notes to send to servicemembers – can share digital messages with the troops using iPads at the White House. The tablets surround a Christmas tree decorated with gold star ornaments inscribed the names of fallen troops.

To send a message anytime, visit http://go.wh.gov/USOHolidays.

More information: Joining Forces

lin.cj@stripes.com Twitter: @cjlinSS

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