This year’s official Congressional holiday ornament is a tribute to the Senate Reception Room, a richly decorated space that was created adjacent to the chamber so constituents could meet informally with their Senators.
The ornament features a view of the East Front of the Capitol over a translucent blue window. The semicircular window represents the fanlights above the doors in the Senate Reception Room, which is more prosaically known as S-213.
The bottom of the ornament depicts bunting in red and white enamel on either side of a gold American eagle standing atop a red, white and blue shield.
The ornament is made of brass finished in 24-karat gold and hangs from a bright red ribbon tied to the golden arch framing the Capitol.
The Senate Reception Room has been in use since 1859, and it unofficially became known as the Ladies Reception Room during the Civil War because of the many war widows who would gather there to advocate for employment and pensions.
The 2011 ornament was designed by Design Masters Associates Inc. of Virginia and made in the United States. It can be purchased only in the Longworth and Dirksen gift shops and costs $14.
Other Ornaments for Your Tree
White House Ornament
The annual ornament offered by the White House Historical Association pays homage to past presidents, and the 2011 design honors Theodore Roosevelt, who served from 1901 to 1909.
This year’s ornament features an illustration drawn by William A. Rogers in 1901 in anticipation of the Roosevelt family’s first holiday season in the White House. A red-cheeked Santa Claus is shown crossing the snowy North Lawn and carrying a large bag of toys over his shoulder. “I hear that there are some kids in the White House this year,” reads the caption, reflecting the public’s excitement about the family.
The ornament, which was made in the United States, costs $17.95 and can be purchased at the White House Visitor Center at 1450 Pennsylvania Ave. NW or at other historical association museum shops. It is also available online at whha.org/shop.
Historical Society Ornament
The 2011 U.S. Capitol Historical Society ornament offers a romantic glimpse of the Capitol’s past. An oval wreath of enamel holly leaves and 22-karat gold filigree encircle a nighttime view of the Dome. A decorated Christmas tree and horse-drawn sleigh occupy the foreground.
The U.S. Capitol Historical Society has been selling holiday ornaments since 1994, and sales help fund its mission to educate the public about the Capitol and Congress.
The hand-cut and hand-painted ornament is made in America. It can be purchased for $24 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Building at 200 Maryland Ave. NE or online at uschscatalog.org.