First lady Michelle Obama is honoring military mothers and wives for being "outstanding role models" for their children, communities and country.

The first lady and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, hosted an afternoon tea at the White House on Thursday to recognize the mothers. The tea celebrated both Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Mother's Day.

Youngsters wearing their spring best — from girls in bright, flowered sundresses to boys in pastel dress shirts and suits — slipped into the State Dining Room for a few minutes to make gifts for their mothers.

The arts and crafts activities included decorating sugar cookies, selecting potted rose bouquets and filling tiny bags with dried chamomile herbs and honey from the White House beehive.

The children presented the gifts to their moms before Mrs. Obama and Biden gave brief remarks thanking the military families.

Mrs. Obama thanked her own mother, Marian Robinson, for being her "rock."

"She has taught me to believe in myself, and more importantly, to pick myself up whenever I stumble. She is always a shoulder to cry on and talk to, and I do that a lot."

Mrs. Obama also thanked grandmothers for "filling in whenever needed." She said they've earned the right to spoil their grandchildren, such as letting them eat whatever they want. But the first lady, a proponent of healthy eating, jokingly reminded the children in attendance to eat their vegetables.

The military families dined on light fare including tuna tartare, cucumber sandwiches, shaved ham on biscuits, blueberry scones, fruit tarts and coconut cake.

Following the tea, the first lady and Biden participated in a community service activity at the Naval Observatory, the vice president's residence. They were joined by congressional spouses in assembling hundreds of care packages for mothers and wives at the request of deployed troops. The boxes included handwritten notes, gift cards and charm bracelets with the American flag.

Both events were a part of their Joining Forces initiative, which launched last year, to support military families.