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The Margin: Merry Christmas from Melania Trump: Former first lady unveils holiday ornaments collection

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Melania Trump has a new gig — as a Christmas ornament designer.

The former first lady is introducing a series of holiday decorations. One of them, dubbed “The Christmas Star,” will be sold for $45 through her website. And a separate line of six ornaments, billed as “The American Christmas Collection,” is being sold through a company called USA Memorabilia with the baubles priced at $35 apiece.

And that’s not all. Every ornament is packaged with a corresponding animated NFT — minted on the Solana blockchain, according to the Melania Trump and USA Memorabilia websites. The ornaments are made in the U.S. and each one features Melania Trump’s signature.

“My creative inspiration for the upcoming holiday is hope, and naturally, the Star embodies this spirit,” Melania Trump said in describing “The Christmas Star” ornament on her website. “This holiday season, remember to aim high to reach your full potential.”

The “American Christmas Collection” includes an ornament themed around Melania Trump’s “Be Best” initiative aimed at supporting children. The remaining ornaments in the collection feature an American flag and a Christmas tree, among other designs.

The “Be Best” ornament from Melania Trump’s “The American Christmas Collection”

USA Memorabilia

According to a press release sent to MarketWatch from a Melania Trump spokesperson, USA Memorabilia is an “NFT platform featuring United States memorabilia” and “gives fans the ability to purchase patriotic-themed collectibles with immutable provenance, permanently recorded on the blockchain.” USA Memorabilia is powered by Parler, a social-media platform that has become popular with right-wing politicians and influencers.

Fox News said that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the ornaments “will go toward ‘Fostering the Future,’ a ‘Be Best’ initiative that secures education opportunities and scholarships for children in the foster care community.”

In response to a MarketWatch request for comment about the ornaments, Melania Trump’s office provided a statement that noted, “Mrs. Trump is very proud that the first two Fostering The Future Scholarship recipients have started this semester at Oral Roberts University and Middle Tennessee State University.” 

Melania Trump’s past forays into holiday décor — at least at the White House — have created some controversy, however. Some felt her Christmas designs were a tad too macabre. The Cut website described her 2018 design, featuring a set of red trees, as “Murder Christmas.”

The former first lady admitted to being frustrated with the annual White House holiday-decorating ritual — at least in a 2018 conversation secretly recorded by her friend and adviser Stephanie Winston that was later aired on CNN. “I’m working … my ass off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a f*** about the Christmas stuff and decorations? But I need to do it, right?” Melania Trump said.

Melania Trump is hardly the former first lady to find new sorts of enterprises in a post-White House life. Some have written books — most notably, Michelle Obama had a best-seller with her memoir “Becoming,” which sold more than 17 million copies, according to The New York Times. (She has a new book, “The Light We Carry,” coming out in November.)

And while Hillary Clinton followed her time at the White House serving as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State — to say nothing of her campaigns for the presidency — she has also embraced various media ventures, from hosting a podcast to developing a dramatic series for the CW network.

Barbara A. Perry, director of presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, told MarketWatch that she is unaware of any former first lady creating a line of consumer goods, much as Melania Trump has done with her series of Christmas ornaments. In general, Perry said she prefers that former residents of the White House stick to public policy-related pursuits rather than using their name and fame for other means.

“I find it a little unseemly,” Perry said of any post-White House commercial ventures. “I don’t like the idea of public servants — and I think first ladies are public servants — making money off their public service.”

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