Core Crew Christmas 2021

I say it every year – our Core Crew Christmas tradition is one of my very favorite days of the entire year and def my favorite family tradition πŸ™‚ Every year I’m asked about what Core Crew Christmas is! It’s the day our little family celebrates “just us” time and where we do ALL of our family Christmas traditions.

Zach’s family has always had the tradition of spending the night at his grandparents, and then his parents’, house on Christmas Eve so Santa comes and we wake up on Christmas morning at Zach’s moms and dad’s house every year.

We decided to claim Dec 23rd as our Core Crew Christmas Day every year. We treat the 22nd as a sort of pre-Christmas Eve and then the kids wake up on the morning of the 23rd and we open presents. Over the years it’s evolved a bit and now we actually have the kids open almost ALL of their gifts from US that morning. It makes it easier to travel to Zach’s parents house and allows Santa and his Mom be the highlight of Christmas morning as the kids get all of Santa’s gifts, all of G-Mama’s gifts, and a few gifts from us on actual Christmas morning.

On the 22nd we kicked off our holiday baking with Daddy’s favorite cookies πŸ™‚

I had a very special moment happen to me a few months prior. I was going through things and found a letter from my mom that brought up a lot of emotions and was a very healing moment for me. I then found a birthday card from my dad that equally brought up emotions. I had a little me and God kinda moment for a bit and allowed myself to process and feel the feels and come to a place of a lot of peace in a lot of areas. Right after that moment I went back to my task of cleaning things out and found a card from Big Daddy and Little Mama where Big Daddy left me a note saying “I will always love you.”

It was such a blessing at just the right moment. I cherish it so much. I miss him so much. It’s so hard walking around without having his love as a constant in my life anymore. I had the great idea to turn the note into an ornament for our tree! I actually loved it so much I made similar ones for Zach’s mom and sisters as Christmas gifts this year.

We always wear our Christmas pjs from the year prior for Core Crew Christmas so once Zach got home from work the kids put their pjs on and we all snuggled up in our new bed (we are loving the king size, can you tell?) and watched a Christmas movie together (we watched the Jim Carrey version of The Grinch which I DO NOT recommend – it was awful).

Every year we all wear our pjs and the kids bring a snuggly blanket and a big stuffed animal to go ride around a nearby neighborhood to look at Christmas lights. Some years I have a little gift for the kids to open that night and this year I got them each their own turvis cups which are fantastic because they have lids to help prevent spills and don’t “sweat” so no worrying about coasters.

Kye is at a fun age with gifts as he’s ALL about guessing and then seeing if he’s right. It was fun to wrap these to literally look like cups and let him INSIST they were cups leading up to the 22nd and I kept making up things they might be instead of cups. He loved being right πŸ˜‰

We used the new cups for hot chocolate bombs to sip on in the car while we went to hunt lights. I love having a little one in my lap while we drive around and will be sad when those days end.

Tess was SO excited for Christmas this year and Spear is at that adorable age where he gets SO excited over every single gift he opens. Tess was the only kid who actually wanted to sleep with her bedroom Christmas tree lights on and she decorated the study room white board with a special message too.

Even Lily got her own stocking this year (and notice I put it with Zach’s since he’s her favorite). And Zach and I kicked off the big morning with tasty coffee together before the chaos.

The big kids know they are NOT allowed to come down or do ANY peaking and, yes, I fully trust them when it comes to that πŸ™‚ Tess spent her time waiting perfecting her picture!

Rather than get Spear up we went ahead and let him sleep while we let the older three fight it out on who could find the pickle in the Christmas tree.

Growing up my mom always hid a pickle ornament and my brother and I battled to be the first to find the pickle on the Christmas tree and the winner would receive the “pickle present.” It’s a tradition I’ve carried on with my own children and one that they LOVE. Next year Spear will def be old enough to truly participate!

Even with her “nerf bullet eye” Britt still won!

Spear got up to join us and the kids all helped in making starter piles of the gifts. I like to write “hint” tags on each present that help me remember what is inside but also help build anticipation for the kids in opening so we read them aloud as they open too πŸ™‚

Spear did a fantastic job being patient as some of the gifts were passed out! He was AWESOME this year at waiting his turn, enjoying the slow pace of our opening process, interacting with others as they opened, and in showing appreciation and excitement over the gifts he received too!

Kye asked for a PS4 from Santa buttttt Daddy and Mommy had a bit of a surprise in store for him. When I mentioned him wanting a PS4 on IG a friend reached out that her husband was looking to sell his. We ended up buying it from her (with several games too) and then surprised Kye with it as his FIRST present he opened.

He was truly SHOCKED. Best reaction ever!!!!

We always take turns opening gifts. My love language is gift giving so a big thing I enjoy is taking our TIME. Both my parents growing up were allllll about making Christmas morning last as long as possible and at Zach’s parents house it’s 18 people all opening so it’s a tad chaotic and I just love our little Core Crew Christmas to take it slow and savor each gift and talk about the gifts as they are opened. We listen to Christmas music. We take breaks. We just make it take as long as we can!

I hope Tessie always finds books this exciting! Spear was ALL about Daddy and sat with him just about the entire morning.

The kids all get to ask for a few gifts each, we have been slowly working out how to cut back on the presents each year. I’m a big believer in Christmas gifts being more about quantity than quality. I like to have ’em have a ton of things to open and I’m “that mom” who will literally wrap up toothbrushes at Christmas time.

We’ve continued to cut further back on the number of wishlist items they ask for as it allows me more freedom for the thoughtful kinda gift buying which is my favorite! I love watching their reactions to the gifts they’ve been hoping to receive but especially they ones they never expected.

Britt asked for a doll and I’m pretty confident this will be the last year she receives something like this and that it’ll probably not be played with much, but I will ALWAYS buy my babies toys for as long as they will ask for them. I will never rush them to grow up!

Spear and Britt were so cute immediately wanted to wear and try on their new clothing items. Britt is really growing up and is more and more interested in clothing and accessories which presents a fun new stage of Christmas gift shopping too. Kye surprised me this year by still wanting several toy-like items (He loves army men stuff) and it makes my heart so happy and I hope playing never ends! I loved seeing that little boy smile he still has at times and it was so cute how he opened his new army tanks and immediately played with them!

Tess has had a new interest in art and I enjoyed researching and learning about the best art supplies for her to have as she begins this new hobby!

The kids all shop together to choose one gift for Mommy and Daddy as well as for each other. The girls both had a Santa Shop at school so they divided up the family list and each of us received a gift from their Santa Shop!

I love Britt’s little nervous face watching Zach open his gift πŸ™‚ Kye is wanting to learn more about investing and finances and I saw that The Richest Man in Babylon is highly recommended! The kids picked out some comfy slippers for Daddy at Target and they got me some comfy new pjs too!

I love that the kids are all always so appreciative of everything they open and receive. It makes it hard not to go totally overboard πŸ˜‰

I decided that 2022 will be the year where I no longer do birthday slideshows for them. It is a LOT of work on my end for a very short enjoyment on theirs. I’ve been doing these yearly placemats from Shutterfly as a Christmas gift and plan to continue this tradition as a fun way for the kids to look back on the year behind and I plan to do a full family end of year slideshow to watch on Dec 31 each year πŸ™‚

Pretty huge Harry Potter year for Britt and she was ALL ABOUT IT. I love that she is ALL IN when she loves something. A big gift is that we got each of the kids these headphones. They are AWESOME and work so well!

I don’t save a “best gift for last” and just kinda let the morning go with the flow naturally. The kids tend to set a gift aside to open as their last present but Kye had no clue the one he was setting aside was actually a double epic gift. Not just the nerf gun he wanted but also a sneakily hidden game he wanted too πŸ˜‰

I really thought as kids get older they’d be less excited on Christmas morning but man Kye was ADORABLE this year and I took allll the pics to remember it by πŸ™‚

I also love how sweet my kids are in how much they enjoy watching each other open. Britt was precious watching Tess open the gift she got for her and I LOVED seeing BOTH of their reactions.

After we open gifts we have a little downtime to open packages and toss trash etc and then we open our stocking stuffers! We do a “Secret Santa” style exchange for our stockings and buy everything at the dollar store (you can read about that tradition here).

Since we take our time and have a super lazy morning we do a HUGE brunch! Brunch is my favvvv so I am obsessed with all the goodies Zach makes πŸ™‚

This year was also Lily’s first Christmas. She came inside so we could present her with all of our presents. We never even discussed buying her anything yet when we split up at the dollar store for stocking shopping we ALL included Lily on our Christmas list shopping πŸ˜‰

A goal of mine has been to cut back on the amount of junk I buy for the kids and instead we surprise them with a Christmas trip as their big gift each year. The last couple of years has been a bit of a fiasco with our Christmas trips. 2019 was separate trips for the big kids – a ski trip for Kye and Zach in Feb 2020 and a Disney Cruise for the girls and I in April which got canceled due to shut down (we did a trip to Universal that year instead). Then in 2020, we gifted them a trip to Mexico which then got canceled due to guidelines changing so we switched it up and went to Key West instead (which we LOVED).

This year I struggled with even wanting to plan a Christmas trip. I really debated not even doing one. It was hard to get excited or spend any of the time to plan knowing there was such a strong chance those plans would change.

Long story short but originally we had planned Hawaii for the kids – TWICE. We had flight credits from the Hawaii trip attempts (we’ve ended up tabling that trip and are just waiting awhile to do it) that would expire. For Britt’s 10th birthday we planned to go skiing like we did for Kye’s 10th birthday so we decided to use those flight credits and make her birthday trip extra epic and go skiing in Colorado!

Zach and Kye LOVED it so much and we thought it’d be a great chance for the kids to see LEGIT snow and Spear to get to fly on a plane for the first time!

We actually had ANOTHER trip planned as their Christmas trip and had planned to just have Britt’s bday trip be extra epic and surprise them with the Christmas trip BUT leading up to Christmas I just didn’t feel good about surprising them with the Christmas trip we planned. I felt like I needed a SURE THING this year.

So we are keeping that Christmas trip as a wait and see surprise – and I’m glad we did because we ended up actually having to reschedule it due to guidelines etc too!

Instead, we just made the ski trip the Christmas trip. I ordered this personalized puzzle and created clues to lead them to each of the pieces. The biggest part of the surprise? We’d be leaving in SIX DAYS!

I took a video of the entire surprise reveal and it’s included in this post πŸ™‚ Kye basically said he figured it out with the first clue and Spear had like zero interest but the girls loved it!

It always gets even MORE exciting getting to check out the game plan and our condo stay etc!

I’m team pjs all day on our Core Crew Christmas. I want it to last forever and be super lazy and messy and just for the kids to get to have the freedom to enjoy their new gifts however they want!

Tess finished her entire new book in one sitting and Britt modeled all of her new Harry Potter looks.

Growing up my favorite Christmas tradition was decorating Christmas cookies and it’s something we do every single year as part of our Core Crew Christmas Day. Spear and I took nice long naps and then we got our decorating on. It was the first year that Spear fully participated and I was proud by how into it he was and how long he lasted πŸ˜‰ I even got some new truck cookie cutters too!

Kye was more into the icing than the decorating this year which is fine by me too. I just want everyone to enjoy it in whatever way THEY want to! He was a huge help in icing the cookies for the rest of us to decorate. We did lots of fun colors of icing this year and made alllll the messes πŸ˜‰

Daddy killed it in the meals for the day and finished the day with hamburgers and homemade French fries. We always eat one Christmas Cookie as well as each have some of the cookie dough that I set aside and save when I’m doing my baking.

I had that mama guilt for Tess having one less gift to open and it magically arrived during the day! We all had the perfect lazy family kinda day that I love so much and the kids all enjoyed their new gifts as well as each other!

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