Core Crew Christmas 2020

Our Core Crew Christmas 2020

Every year I say it – Core Crew Christmas is my FAVORITE! I love the day filled with JUST us and all of our special little traditions and just soaking up the moments together.

This year was fantastic but to be completely honest? Overall Christmas this year just left me feeling “meh.” I didn’t have that special holiday JOY like I usually feel. I think this was probably common among MANY mamas in 2020. It was a TOUGH year. It’s okay if everything didn’t feel super happy and magical. It’s okay for our emotions to be a bit down and to feel a bit like we’re just going through the motions.

I think we tend to put a lot of pressure on the holidays and with everything going on this Christmas had EXTRA pressure ya know? And even the magic of Christmas just couldn’t magically “fix” all the 2020 craziness.

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVED the day! We all had a GREAT time and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to celebrate with my babies and amazing husband. The kids had a BLAST and we all loved it. I just think it’s important to also share that every smile doesn’t always mean that there is overwhelming joy there either πŸ™‚ Gotta keep it real!

We have a Core Crew Christmas Eve and always get pizza. Growing up we had pizza every year on Christmas Eve and always left out a slice for Santa and it’s a favorite memory of mine πŸ™‚

The big “it” thing this year has been hot chocolate bombs so like every other parent out there I had to get ’em for the kids. It was a perfect post-pizza dessert treat on our Core Crew Christmas Eve!

Anyone else not overly impressed with them? It was pretty neat to see it “explode” but the taste was SO SWEET that none of us could finish them. And we have some pretty major sweet teeth πŸ˜‰ No regrets in trying them as it made for a fun family activity!

We always wear our Christmas PJS from the year prior for our Core Crew Christmas. I always order the Christmas PJS a size up to allow for them to fit the next year too. Serves double duty πŸ™‚

After our pizza dinner we always go look at Christmas lights in a nearby neighborhood. This year less houses seemed to be decorating (which we were among them) so we drove through our neighborhood too to make sure we got to see some good ones!

Tessie tried out driving – it’s hilarious that all of our kids have “driven” for the first time in the dark at Christmas haha.

We always bring cuddly blankets and a stuffed animals and get to get out of car seats and snuggle with mommy as we look. Spear was SO FUN this year (I promise he didn’t escape out of that window) and so into seeing all the fun lights!

The night before our Core Crew Christmas the kids get to sleep with their little tree lights on in their room. We don’t do night lights and it’s funny b/c Kye and Britt BOTH ended up turning their lights OFF because they couldn’t sleep with them on!

Last year on Core Crew Christmas we let the big kids get up early and get rolling and let Spear sleep in and then did ALL of his gifts at one time. It worked out really well to allow for the big kids to enjoy the moment and for Zach and I to be able to WATCH them rather than have to be chasing Spear.

This year we decided to let Spear sleep while the big kids hunted for the pickle and then we woke him up to get rolling as a family.

A tradition growing up was to hide a pickle Christmas ornament in the tree and whoever found it got a special prize – I like to always make the Pickle Present a game that we ALL can enjoy.

Britt found it again this year! The prize was Monopoly Bid which is a card game version of Monopoly and super quick and easy to play!

I was SO pumped about seeing Spear as he’s been the most into Christmas this year. He was SO adorable and excited! The kids liked wearing Santa hats and helped pass out all of the presents.

We have cut back a TON on the amount of gifts our kids get each year and have focused instead on setting money aside for a big trip as their big Christmas gift. This year was SUCH a weird year. I stayed within our budget but did gift them a few more presents than I’d planned to – there is just so much stress involved with travel planning and I think we all just wanted to be able to have a SOLID GOOD Christmas.

And they did! We open majority of the gifts on our Core Crew Christmas morning. Then on actual Christmas Morning they get a few things from us but the rest is Santa and G-Mama/Big Papa gifts.

Britt always has the best reactions but this year ALL the kids had some really great ones! They were so appreciative and it really made me proud πŸ™‚ Less is more!

I debated buying Kye a Chromebook but they didn’t have great reviews and the kids have them at school already so I just bought Kye a really nice keyboard iPad case with a mouse and he was just as happy with that as he would have been with the Chromebook.

Grandpa and Grammie sent them several gifts too and they always do an awesome job choosing things that we all love πŸ™‚

Spear did so, so great. A big thing for me is to take our TIME. I like for each person to take turns opening and for everyone to give them attention while opening. Spear was VERY patient and did so great being involved in all the opening.

Tess and Spear had little artwork gifts for Mommy from school which I just adore! Tess was also AWESOME with being super appreciative this year too. She was genuine in her joy and it made me so happy as we have had some hiccups with her being appreciative in the past.

The kids all picked out gifts for Zach and I and he loved his new watch and I love my new book bag πŸ™‚ Every year I make each child a little placemat and journal. I love the placemats as it’s been great for the kids to use every day and to look back on the year behind πŸ™‚ Makes for great dinner conversations!

I always want to encourage my babies to read so every year I buy a good chunk of books and they each open a BIG box of books at Christmas each year!

The BEST reaction of the morning actually went to Tess when she opened the little $2 present from the school store that Britt bought her – some Descendants stickers. SO PRECIOUS and just such a great reminder that it’s the little thoughtful gifts that mean the most πŸ™‚

More sweet moments from our special morning:

The girls frequently get gifts that they share and I was excited to give the BOYS a gift together – I love that my 11 year old was all about getting a fort building set πŸ™‚ I LOVE my babies and it fills my heart so full to see them SO HAPPY!

I love to have a little surprise up my sleeve and this year I did some pretty solid tricking my kids to make it happen πŸ™‚

Often brands reach out wanting to collaborate on my Instagram with items they are wanting to promote and I was SUPER excited to received a ZIP LINE as well as this blow up dome thing from a brand. I told the kids that since these items were such big sellers and so expensive that the company made us send them BACK after we took the images.

It worked. Britt told me that she wanted a zip line from Santa for Christmas 2021 haha. They were SHOCKED and SO excited when they opened the zip line (we are still trying to figure out where to put it). THE most used item on the day of our Core Crew Christmas was def the dome jumping thing too!

Kye got going on building a fort and he and Zach helped Spear build his FIRST Lego! When I saw the little construction set on clearance I had to have it! I knew it’d be a fun together activity for them πŸ™‚

Zach always does a BIG breakfast after we’re all done opening gifts and this year I splurged on the hot chocolate bombs and he wanted to do something extra fun for breakfast – BISCUITS.

He met Mrs Erica Roberts and had her biscuits and they are INCREDIBLE. They can also be frozen and reheated later and are JUST as delicious. I can’t recommend her enough! If you’re local be sure to check out Grandma’s Love Sweets and More!

We ate our breakfast and then opened up our Secret Santa Stockings! Spear had NO interest. I was super pumped about finding this book or him as he has a different version of the same book and is obsessed with it. I knew it’d be a hit and I love that books are such a huge win for our sweet boy πŸ™‚

I love how much thought the kids put into choosing their dollar store items for each other and it’s always fun to see what they buy and fun to guess who chose what item for each of us. I also love that they are always so appreciative of each gift too πŸ™‚

Pics got a bit out of order but we do a big feast for breakfast! SO GOOD!

I love letting the day be lazy and the kids just get to ENJOY all their new toys. Britt had fun putting together her Harry Potter lego figurines and Spear wanted Tessie to read all the books to him while Kye got that fort put together so they could all have a hangout spot.

Once Spear went down for his nap we had one lassssst surprise for the kids.

I LOVE that NONE of them asked about the Christmas trip. NOT. ONE. It honestly made me wish we just hadn’t done one. In this crazy time it’s so hard to plan ANYTHING and feel solid about it so we really could have just called it DONE on the gifts! I love that they had no expectations or disappointments and it did make it extra fun for us to give them this trip.

I also gotta give Zach a shout out. This trip was ALL HIM. I really lost all my joy in travel planning with so many trips being canceled and I truly just wanted to SKIP it this year. I didn’t want to plan anything. What was the point when it’d just be canceled? But he really was adamant about us making it happen so we did!

We decided to book a trip to Mexico because at the time it seemed like the most “sure thing” and it was so easy to plan. Book the flights. Book the all inclusive resort stay. That’s it. It felt like the Disney Cruise planning in that IF/WHEN it canceled it’d be minimal stuff to deal with. Planning a trip with multiple hotel stays or activities would be much more work on the planning front and much more hassle if/when plans changed.

Spoiler alert: we did end up canceling the Mexico trip haha. Less than a month prior to us traveling they announced that a negative test would be needed to re-enter America from another country so we just canceled as we didn’t want to risk any of us getting suck in Mexico. No regrets as we had an INCREDIBLE trip and the kids did SO great with the change of plans too.

But on this day we were surprising them with Mexico πŸ˜‰

We had already arranged for Spear to stay with Zach’s parents for the Mexico trip. We have no issue leaving a youngest kid at home up until around age 4. Prior to that they don’t really appreciate the experience and traveling with a smaller child makes it hard to allow the older kids to get the full experience. YES, we take MANY family trips but I don’t feel guilt one bit for focusing on the older kids sometimes too. The younger kids will have their turn when the older ones are grown πŸ˜‰

Anyway we did the big reveal at nap time and it was pretty genius. Kye was playing video games on the TV in the living room and the girls were hanging out looking at their new toys and such too. So Zach came in and shut the doors to the entertainment center.

Kye was SO confused. It took them a GOOD MINUTE to even SEE the packages on the shelves!

We had them open three gifts in order to give clues about the trip. A plane and sand in one box, Feliz Navidad in another, and then the final box was cute sombreros and a printed off plane ticket with all the info!

Needless to say they were SHOCKED and SUPER excited! So fun doing such an epic surprise πŸ™‚ You can watch the full video here!

The wrapped up items for the big surprise!

I took a NAP while Spear napped and when I woke up Kye was enjoying playing his new video games, Tessie was reading in the fort and Britt was outside enjoying the new bounce dome! It was a very chill afternoon and I love that the kids just got to hang out and enjoy their new gifts however they desired.

Can I also please sign up for the dress up stage of life never ending?

Another must-do tradition on our Core Crew Christmas is decorating Christmas cookies. I use my mom’s homemade cookie and frosting recipe and they are always SO tasty. This year Kye wanted to help ice the cookies for the first time and it was def helpful to have him handling some of that too!

We did a good bit of the decorating before Spear woke up. It was a LOT of cookies and I knew Spear’s attention span wouldn’t last long and I was right. He did take GREAT care in decorating his cookie but he did a couple and was OVER it. He was happy to just go play with his new tractors while the rest of us finished up and he def participated in the taste testing at the end πŸ˜‰

Always gotta try one! We were all SO FULL from our huge breakfast that we just kinda had a snack time dinner with a bit of fruit on the side πŸ˜‰

Another tradition – when I bake the cookies I always keep plenty of plain dough on the side for us to enjoy! It’s the best part, duh!

We ended the night with a bonfire outside and dark trampoline jumping. We also let the big kids stay up a little late to spend more time together. I dominated playing against Kye in his games πŸ˜‰ Mom skills!

It was such a fantastic family day together and I’m always thankful for memories and moments like these. It was a doozy of a year and being able to have normalcy at Christmas was such a TRUE GIFT!

I absolutely love that this year I took LOTS more pictures and VIDEOS. I swear looking through it all and watching it all back brought me even more joy than living it did!!! It was truly such a great day πŸ™‚

Growing up I would video tape our entire Christmas morning because it’s something my dad always did when I was little and I LOVED watching the videos back as a kid. So random haha but I tried to take more video this year and I really do love how it came together – it should be featured in this post!

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Emily Parker

Hey Y’all, I’m Emily! I’m a stay at home mom and consider parenting to be my passion. Disney is my happiest place and I love making memories as a family together. I’m a big believer in transparency and share all of my real-life moments as a mother of four.

My work has been featured on Love What Matters, Today Parenting and Babywise.Life. I’m also honored to be a member of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network.

You can read more about our family on my About Me page. Also be sure to follow along with me on Instagram, FacebookΒ and Pinterest!

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