Washington, D.C. has been popping with holiday parties this month, but the most coveted tickets in town were for the White House soirees. This holiday season President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have hosted 17 parties and 11 open houses for members of Congress, White House staff, journalists and tourists from around the country–racking up to 50,000 holiday visitors in total.

ESSENCE.com takes you inside the White House during this very special time of year.

For more from Washington correspondent Cynthia Gordy’s “Obama Watch,” click here.