Elvis Presley Loved Christmas Time, How He Transformed Graceland

by Allison Hambrick
044636 05: Singer Elvis Presley poses for a studio portrait. (Photo by Liaison)

According to his ex-wife, iconic musician Elvis Presley enjoyed the Christmas season by turning Graceland into a winter wonderland. Christmas was his favorite time of year, and he made sure everyone knew it.

Even though he spent his first Christmas there in anticipation of being deployed for military service, Elvis made it count. In 1957, he started many traditions that are maintained to this day. His expansive decorating spread throughout the house.

From the outside, he showed his spirit with a colorful Nativity scene front and center. Christmas wreaths adorned the stables. Traditionally, Graceland puts up two trees. The living room features a white tree, while the dining room gets a green one. The entire house is covered in poinsettias. No room is left undecorated–the pool room even gets a touch-up, with the monkey getting a Santa hat.

Elvis didn’t stop at decorating Graceland. The musician’s history of gift-giving is well-documented. Christmas was one of his favorite times to give.

“Christmas for Elvis wasn’t about receiving, it was always about giving,” said Priscilla Presley. “It was about seeing the reaction on people’s faces when he would give them things.”

True to form, Elvis gave huge gifts before Priscilla. That first Christmas in 1957, the musician gifted each of his staff $1,000.

Elvis’s Daughter Talks Growing Up in Graceland

In an interview, Lisa Marie Presley discussed what living in Graceland was really like. Many see living in a mansion with a wealthy father as a dream. The reality was a little different for Lisa Marie.

“He and I spent a lot of time together upstairs,” said Lisa Marie. The upper part of Graceland is basically his room and my room.” The time they spent together was often limited. Her father worked during the night. As a result, she was often unattended. Lisa Marie developed a reputation for being a spoiled brat.

“He would sleep all day,” explained Lisa Marie. “So me and my friends pretty much had the run of Graceland. And I knew that nobody was going to tell me what to do. Because they would get fired. I was, truly a terror, to be honest.”

Additionally, her parents had wildly different views on parenting. While her father was relaxed and enabling, her mother was “totally the opposite.” Priscilla was the strict, disapproving type.

 “She loved to have her way,” shared Elvis’s cousin, Danny Smith. “She got it a lot of times.” He elaborated that while his cousin was bossy, they had some “damn good times.”

“We all loved each other, but, hell, we all wanted our own way,” Smith continued. “But it all kind of worked out. Let’s just say we knew how to work each other.”

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