Elvis Presley’s cousin Danny Smith revealed how the music icon spent his last Christmas at Graceland with his daughter, Lisa Marie. First, the distant relative explained what a typical Elvis Christmas looked like.
Usually, the festivities began on Christmas Eve. The staff would prepare a feast for Elvis and his guests. Those in attendance usually included the Memphis Mafia, consisting of both Elvis’s bodyguards, friends, and relatives, including Smith’s father.
According to Danny, the big moment of the evening would be when Elvis himself descended the staircase to greet his guests. The adults would usually party upstairs, leaving the children to their own devices. All kinds of mischief ensued, from hide-and-seek to throwing a football around.
Additionally, Smith revealed that Elvis’s last Christmas at Graceland maintained the party tradition. Well into Christmas Day in 1976, the Memphis Mafia continued their celebration. As mentioned before, the grown-ups held their festivities in Elvis’s bedroom. Interestingly, the room is largely the same as it was at the time of the musician’s death.
As a result, Smith, Lisa Marie, and the other Memphis Mafia kids partied downstairs. They even helped themselves to some of the Christmas punch. Lisa Marie received a golf cart from her father that year.
“She loved to have her way,” said Smith. “She got it a lot of times.” He remembers being with her at Graceland as “damn good times.”
Elvis Transforms Graceland
In addition to throwing a party, Elvis Presley enjoyed decorating Graceland as a winter wonderland. His first Christmas in the home was spent dreading his deployment for military service. As a result, the King made it festive. In 1957, Elvis created holiday traditions that Graceland maintains to this day. His tradition of decorating the entire mansion began.
Outside of the mansion, the musician placed a colorful Nativity scene front and center, showcasing his faith. Each stable receives a Christmas wreath. Additionally, not one but two trees decorate Graceland. The dining room has a green tree, while the living room tree is white. Poinsettias adorn the entire house. No room is left untouched–even the pool room monkey gets a Santa hat.
Elvis shared his Christmas spirit through more than decorations. He enjoyed gift-giving year-round, but Christmas was by far his favorite season to share with others.
“Christmas for Elvis wasn’t about receiving, it was always about giving,” said ex-wife Priscilla Presley. “It was about seeing the reaction on people’s faces when he would give them things.”
While Priscilla recalls his generosity, it predates their relationship. Elvis always gave freely and hugely. Even during that first Christmas in 1957, the musician gifted each of his staff $1,000.