The National Christmas Tree outside the White House represents the most energy-efficient tree in a long, long time, expected to consume just 6,000 watts of power, compared with 18,000 in 2008 and 40,000 in the years before that. The 42-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce is decorated with LEDs from topper to toe -- 750 strings of white lights in all. In the spirit of recycling, the White House and National Park Foundation also suggested that the team behind the tree "take a look at reusing some of the ornaments from the past," said Mary Beth Gotti, who designed the National Christmas Tree. She spoke by cellphone from the White House grounds, just before President Obama's daughters pushed the button to light up the tree on Dec. 3. The star-shaped ornaments, which were used on the 1998, 2004 and 2008 trees, were retrofitted with LEDs bulbs.
-- Susan Carpenter