The holidays are – and have always been – a magical time here at Elvis Presley’s Graceland.
From the colorful Nativity scene in the front yard to the Christmas wreaths at the stables, all of Graceland is decorated to celebrate the Christmas season. Graceland’s traditional Christmas decorations also include two beautiful Christmas trees – one in the living room and one in the dining room, poinsettias on the staircase and throughout the house, and decorations in the Pool Room and Jungle Room. Even the famous monkey in the pool room gets dressed up for the occasion, wearing a Santa hat and a red bow.
Actually, before we go any further, let's set the mood even more. Check out this video of Graceland's Christmas lights, set to Charles Esten's "The Lights at Graceland."
Elvis loved Christmas. It was his favorite time of year. The Presleys always put up their Christmas decorations early, and because Elvis so loved the season, decorations stayed up through his birthday on January 8 (a tradition we keep alive here at Graceland).
Elvis purchased Graceland in the spring of 1957, so that first Christmas at his new home was a special one. On December 12, he purchased a Santa and sleigh yard decoration that read, “Merry Christmas to All, Elvis.” We still display that sign, which he purchased for $300 from the Bain Sign Company.
For Christmas, Elvis used beautiful red drapes to decorate Graceland. He had a white nylon Christmas tree which rotated on its stand and played Christmas carols, and he decorated it with red ornaments.
Elvis also lined the Graceland driveway with blue lights. Elvis’ father Vernon joked that with the lights lining the driveway, and the airport nearby, that pilots may get confused and would try to land at Graceland.
The Santa and sleigh sign went into a brief retirement in the 1960s, when Elvis decorated the lawn with the Nativity scene and aluminum Christmas trees. When the company that Elvis, and eventually Graceland, leased the Nativity scene and aluminum trees from each year went out of business, Graceland purchased the displays to ensure the continuation of Elvis’ holiday tradition.
Christmas at Graceland became even more special with the arrival of Elvis and Priscilla’s daughter, Lisa Marie. For her first Christmas, Vernon dressed up as Santa to visit the family at Graceland. Elvis loved buying Christmas gifts for Lisa, and gifts ranged from stuffed animals to a tiny fur coat and diamond ring. You can check out footage of Lisa Marie's first Christmas - and learn more about Elvis and Christmas - on last December's Gates of Graceland. Watch that episode now.
Elvis was always generous and charitable, but especially at Christmas. He gave to many children’s funds and other charities that helped the needy.
Now at Graceland, we celebrate the Christmas season with our annual Lighting Ceremony (watch a recap of this year’s ceremony). We also have our Graceland Poinsettia Campaign. By making a donation to the campaign, fans will support the Elvis Presley Charitable Foundation and add to the beauty of Graceland at Christmas. The poinsettias line the staircase at Graceland and can be seen throughout the mansion by our guests who visit during this special time of the year.
See Graceland decorated for the holidays with our Tis the Season package. The package includes a stay at The Guest House at Graceland, tickets to tour Graceland, and $100 worth of Elvis holiday gifts.
Can’t make it to Memphis this Christmas? You can see Graceland light up each night live on the GracelandCam.