Official Occasions

James Buchanan greeting envoys from Japan, 1860
Courtesy of Library of Congress

As the nation's official hosts, the president and his family are responsible for receiving a wide variety of dignitaries at the White House. Over the years, visitors have ranged from members of the Osage Indian tribe to representatives from China.

The format for these meetings varies from receptions and closed-door conversations to balls and state dinners. Important personal relationships and significant decisions can emerge from such gatherings. The challenge is to use the occasions effectively.

"Woodcock," a game plate from the state china of Rutherford and Lucy Hayes, designed by Theodore Russell Davis and manufactured by Haviland & Company in 1880.
Dessert plate decorated with an American Beauty rose, the "state" flower of the District of Columbia, used by Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. It was designed by Tiffany & Company and manufactured by Castleton China.
Dinner plate used by Ronald and Nancy Reagan, designed and manufactured by Lenox in 1981. Although the first lady used private funds to pay for the new White House china, the cost--reportedly more than $200,000--generated some controversy.
Place card used to identify guest seats at formal dinners hosted by Rutherford and Lucy Hayes.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan hosting a state dinner for Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, 1981.
Courtesy of Ronald Reagan Library
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter welcoming Pope John Paul II to the White House, 1979
Courtesy of White House Historical Association