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2013 “Dream House” Ornament Guidelines

Many good ideas start with a dream.

As our first annual call for ornaments, the “Dream House” theme is a reference to the aspirations of the Octagon’s architect William Thornton, and reflects the historic events that took place in the Octagon as well as our dreams for the Octagon and work of the AIA Foundation.

In December 1814, the White House sat in charred ruins only two blocks east of the Octagon. Although the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812, had been signed on Christmas Eve in Belgium, Americans did not yet know that peace had come. To keep spirits up as they awaited the end of the war, James and Dolley Madison hosted holiday celebrations at the Octagon, hopeful that they would soon hear the news they longed for. The First Lady, well-known for her social skills and ability to make everyone feel welcome and integral to the social life of the young city, entertained guests with her signature flair and graciousness.

Nearly two hundred years later, we are once again celebrating the holidays at the Octagon – but we need your help. In order to make our holiday tree a truly special part of the community, we are asking you to create and submit a handmade “Dream House” ornament. All ornaments received that meet the guidelines below will decorate the official Octagon holiday tree, on display on the first floor from December 10 until January 6. Each submission receives a complimentary ticket to the Octagon holiday party on December 15.

“Dream House” Happy Hour

Stuck for an idea? Come join us on November 21 for a “Dream House” Happy Hour, where you can make your own ornament. We will have all the supplies you need. Registration is required.

Ornament Guidelines

This year, we are asking for your interpretation of the theme “Dream House.” Your design can be as serious, funny, whimsical, or tongue-in-cheek as you like, as long as it fits into this year’s theme. We encourage creativity and the use of recycled materials. The only limits are the size and weight of your ornament – the rest is up to you.

Please include a signed submission form with your entry and provide instructions and materials for mounting or hanging on the tree, if necessary. For minors, a signature of your parent or guardian is required.

  • Size: Ornaments can be any size or shape as long they fit within a 4” x 4” x 4” cube.
  • Weight: 3 ounces or 80 grams.
  • Materials: Ornaments can be constructed out of any material. Options include recycled materials, wood, plastic, metals, clay, textiles, paper, cardboard, fiber, and other organic materials. The materials must be stable and durable enough to hang from the tree without disintegrating. All glues, paints and decorative elements should be dry when they are submitted. Recycled materials are encouraged.
  • Ornament hangers: Please provide hooks, string, clips or wire to attach the ornament to the tree. The ornament can be hung from the tree or placed on a branch with a wire or clip. Ornaments without any means for attachment will be displayed next to the tree.
  • Fabrication: Ornaments can be hand-made or computer designed and printed with a 3-D printer.
  • Designer/Designers: Anyone can submit an ornament. There is no age limit. Ornaments can be created by individuals or a team of individuals. For minors, submission form must be co-signed by a parent or guardian.
  • Holiday Party: To be eligible for a complimentary ticket to the Octagon holiday party, you must submit an ornament by 5:30 p.m. on December 2, 2013. One ticket per submission. Additional tickets can be purchased for $25.00 each.
  • Deadline: To have your ornament displayed on the tree and be eligible to receive a complimentary ticket to the holiday party, all ornament submissions must be received at the Octagon, 1799 New York Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20006 by 5:30 p.m. December 2, 2013.
  • Number of submissions: Each participant can submit up to two ornaments. Each entry will receive a complimentary Holiday Party ticket.


By submitting an ornament for the 2013 Holiday Tree, the individual designer or design team (“Designer”) warrants they own all intellectual property and other proprietary rights in their submission, or they have right to make their submission to the AIA Foundation and grant the license stated herein, and that no third party is entitled to any payment or other consideration from the AIA Foundation as a condition of the use of the submission.

By submitting a holiday ornament, the Designer expressly grants to the AIA Foundation a limited, royalty-free, worldwide, non-exclusive, irrevocable license in perpetuity to copy, publish, alter and otherwise use such entry for any and all purposes in all forms of media now in existence or in the future. The Designer also agrees that AIA Foundation may use his or her name and likeness for advertising and promotional purposes.

The Designer will indemnify the AIA Foundation that result from any third party claim of intellectual property infringement or any other claim relating to the Designer’s submission.

AIA Foundation reserves the right to reject any inappropriate submissions.

Contact Katherine Somerville with your questions about the “Dream House” call for submissions.


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