The past few years have been hard for me around the holidays. Last year, for some reason, was particularly difficult and this year I was really set on a mission to put the past in the past and focus on the blessings of the present. I love holidays and it was time to stop letting circumstances rob me of my joy during what should be among the happiest times of the year!
Last year Zach and I had a lot of talks about how to better enjoy the holidays. Prior to getting married we worked out a plan for visiting my family vs spending time with his family vs spending time with our own little family. When things changed a few years ago in regards to my family situation it took us some time to really decide how to switch things up. At first we just did everything with Zach’s family but it’s important to us to still hold onto traditions that are precious to me from my childhood and to make sure we get that quality time with our smaller family unit.
One of our set in stone agreements prior to marriage was that we will spend the night at Mrs. Charlotte’s house every year on Christmas Eve. Meaning our children will always wake up at their house for Christmas morning. Santa comes there. Etc. It’s def a different tradition from what most families do! At first it wasn’t very difficult for me to commit to it. We’d go from her house to spend time with my mom so I felt like it was a good balance. When things changed we didn’t really have a set plan for keeping that balance going and it did really start to hinder my ability to fully enjoy the holidays. I felt like every single holiday was all about Zach’s family. Their traditions. Time with them. I felt like especially at Christmas that any traditions we had with our little family unit got rushed or pushed aside some because the Parker traditions were always “top dog.”
Last year all of this came to a head for me and I really had a rough time. I’m SO thankful for my amazing husband who listens to me and tries to understand my perspective on things. We worked together to figure out a better balance and it was AMAZING this year. It was seriously so, so great and was my favorite Christmas EVER as a parent 🙂
It may sound like a small switch but last year we decided to devote Dec 23rd as our family day. Just our crew and just our special traditions. Rather than have our traditions rushed or thrown in at random times, we had a day set aside JUST for US! I was SO excited leading up to our special family day and having that day was EXACTLY what I needed to have true JOY throughout the holiday season.
Since we have always stayed at Mrs. Charlotte’s for Christmas Eve I’ve never gotten into decorating my home very much for the holidays. I always kind of felt like “what’s the point since we aren’t at our house on Christmas anyway?” This year though I was excited to add new decorations to our home. To make it feel like Christmas! On thing I was especially excited about (as was Zach!) was incorporating a Christmas village to our home.
Growing up my mom always had Snowvillage and my brother and I LOVED it. Zach actually instantly loved it too when he joined our family! It was really, really neat and she has a TON of pieces to the collection. I found out that the same company that makes Snowvillage (Department 56) also makes a Mickey Christmas Village. Could that be any more perfect for our family?!?! Britt and I purchased 8 pieces while on our girls’ trip to get our collection started! I’m SO excited to add to it each year and am thrilled to begin something with my kids that I grew up loving as a child too! Plus it’s something that Zach didn’t have as a kid at his house so I like that it’s specifically from my childhood ya know?
I got several new things to decorate our home this year. There was an awesome deal at Target so I stocked up and I was excited to have things that go with our home decor…lots of white/silver/gray going on! I got new pillows, a table runner, cups for hot chocolate, and several other things! It was SO fun to make our house really feel like Christmas and we had the holiday music on blast all season long 🙂
Zach’s aunt made the little snow globe for us…so cute!
Kye was also in the Christmas decorating spirit and made all these little frames with G-Mama!
My goal was to consider the 23rd as Christmas Day. Meaning that I wanted EVERYTHING DONE by that day! I worked hard to get all the gifts wrapped (props to Zach for devoting a couple nights to helping too!) and we loved enjoying them under the tree! Tess only opened one (you’re welcome Aunt Katie ha!) and otherwise did great just looking at them! The kids also loved seeing more presents added each morning and had fun reading the tags 🙂
We filled the stockings on the night of the 22nd with all our dollar store goodies 🙂 It’s the first time we’ve ever had our stockings stuffed at our house! I also am in LOVE with my shell tree I got from Pottery Barn for free thanks to coupons and rewards I had!
I also love the basket I bought with Casey at Pier 1…it’s perfect on our fireplace to hold all of our holiday books 🙂 The kids love to read them!
To prep for our special day we made the cookies to decorate and also decided to surprise Daddy and make his favorite cookies…Hershey kiss peanut butter cookies! It’s a PERFECT cookie to make with little helping hands 🙂
My mom saved a few of my Christmas dresses from childhood and I LOVE that I can have my girls wear them 🙂 I will probably post these same pics of me when I post the solo shots of Tess too 🙂 You can see pics of Tess last year wearing the same dress as well as ones of Britt when she wore it here!
I’m excited to hold onto these dresses for my granddaughters some day and LOVE that I have a photo of BOTH of my girls wearing dresses that I wore!!!
Our big day festivities actually began the night before…we ate an early dinner and then went and drove around looking at Christmas lights! We’d already had a night doing it earlier during December (where we went and saw local favorite spots) but we wanted a second round to really get us in the Christmas spirit! I dug out everyone’s Christmas pjs from last year (Tess’s are Britt’s from her 2nd Christmas and mine are from middle school haha) and we all grabbed some blankets and friends and headed to a nearby neighborhood to drive around!
Who can really be ready for Christmas without a bedtime treat? 🙂
As an added treat we let the big kids sleep with their Christmas tree lights on in their rooms!
Hermey, our Elf on the Shelf, surprised us all with chocolate muffins for breakfast (which we all agreed tasted more like brownies!) in the shape of Christmas trees 🙂
After we ate breakfast the first order of business was to find the hidden pickle in our Christmas tree! This is something my brother and I grew up searching for in our tree. So far, Kye’s always proven to be victorious. Lucky for Britt, the prize is always something they can all enjoy together (this year it was a game).
We got the Christmas music popping and opened our stockings first! Zach and I also decided this year to set aside 5 gifts for each child to open on the morning of the 23rd. I tend to go overboard in the gift buying department (gift giving is my love language and luckily for me budget finding is a hobby I enjoy so I can stay within budget and buy lots of goodies) so having them open some gifts at our house cut down on what we had to load up to take to Zach’s parents and also helped keep numbers a little more balanced among the cousins on Christmas morning. We also opened the gifts that my dad and Audrey sent and Zach and I decided to open our gifts for each other as well. We spent majority of our Christmas budget for each other on our shopping spree in Savannah but still had a few gifts to open and it was nice to all be together and for our kids to see us giving to each other as well. Plus we also opened the gifts the kids picked out for each other as well as for us from Target. We ended up having quite the Christmas morning!
Tess was ALL ABOUT IT! She was so adorable and FUN!
Kye wanted to get these for Daddy to wear to work so he could tell people to “give me your cents” bahaha
In Bible Class Tess’s teacher talks about all the animals and will have the kids feel the teeth and say “ouch!” every time! Tess did it immediately with her toy lion!
So pumped for his bow and arrow set!
During my deals finding spree I got several people these life changing Kohl’s blankets and even got one for myself and ALL the kids LOVED it! So much so that I couldn’t resist getting each big kid one of their own. They were PUMPED 🙂
No blanket for Tess, but a HUGE Olaf instead 🙂
I was SO excited about the gifts Zach and the kids got for me! The kids picked out a precious necklace that says “I love you to the moon and back” Zach said they picked it out 100 percent on their own and Kye read the inscription and they decided they had to get it for me. SO thoughtful! Zach also got me some Kendra Scott earrings I saw at Steels and fell in LOVE with (like I haven’t really wanted something in a long time but I was reeeeeealllly wanting these earrings!) as well as some AWESOME earrings from the same place we got a necklace for Mrs. Charlotte in Savannah. I wear them constantly and love how they are super unique!
When I first heard about the Yeti tumbler I knew it would make a great gift for Zach! It’s SO HOT down here most of the year and Zach could use something to keep his water cold while he’s working! It wasn’t cheap (or easy to find) but it’s LEGIT! If they make them cuter then I totally want one too 😉
For a couple years now I’ve been hinting that someone should get me a t-shirt from The Mix (our fav local froyo spot) and a gift card! They have a discount day on Tues if you wear your shirt so it’s a gift that will keep on giving! Zach finally listened and hooked me up…with not just one shirt but two (haha) so if anyone wants to go on a Tuesday you can borrow my shirt 😉
Dad and Audrey got us all SUCH thoughtful gifts! I love, love, love my new journal made from an old Emily Post book! So awesome!
All done opening our goodies!
Channeling is inner Justin Bieber with the new pants I got him 😉
More interested in Big Sister’s stuff than her own, naturally 🙂
Of course one gift had to get forgotten in all the craziness…and of course it was one for Tess!
I tried to choose gifts for the kids to open on the 23rd that they could enjoy that day and that may have been less played with if opened with everything else on the 25th!
Dad and Audrey sent Zach some fancy coffee that he enjoyed drinking in the coffee cup Kye got for him!
Sidenote but oh my goodness it was SO sweet how much Kye enjoyed shopping for everyone at his little Santa Shop at school. He took SO MUCH PRIDE in the gifts he picked out and was BEAMING as we each opened them. When we talked about our fav presents from that morning I said mine was the lotion set he got for me and y’all he about died of joy. It was so, so adorable how truly happy it made him to GIVE 🙂
While I got the icing ready for our cookie decorating, Zach helped the kids make reindeer food for Santa’s reindeer!
Tess ate more than she made 😉
Traditional cookie dough enjoyment from the Christmas cookies!
This year Zach handled the frosting of the cookies which was SO HELPFUL to me. I got to sit and ENJOY the decorating rather than feeling rushed to get them iced. Plus, Zach takes stuff like that very seriously and he was over there making these artistic designs only to them have them covered in a million sprinkles bahaha
One of my personal favorite traditions!
Tess was a NIGHTMARE for the cookie decorating. Thankfully we waited and started when she went down for nap so she was only awake for a little bit of it after. I let her eat one cookie and HUGE mistake. She crammed it all in at once and was practically choking on it and still crying b/c she wanted more.
Typical Britt 🙂
We had SUCH a fun day just enjoying each other and our babies 🙂
Selfie stick attempt at a family picture!
Since Kye had already written Santa a letter that he had hand delivered to him he had no interest in writing another one. Some years we have written a letter at Mrs. Charlotte’s with everyone but some years we don’t do it so I never want to risk Santa not having a letter from us just in case!
These three make the holidays SO special!
Christmas movie, hot chocolate and cookie time!
As a kid we’d always get pizza on the 24th. We’d leave a piece for Santa along with the cookies! Zach suggested continuing that tradition but eating it on the night of the 23rd. I got a deal from Papa Johns so we had FANCY pizza (haha legit we always eat Little Ceasars so Papa Johns is like rich people pizza in our eyes!). The kids were also excited to use their new plate sets they opened that morning 🙂
A BIG surprise for EVERYONE (well except for me of course) was Pie Face. When I first saw videos circulating of it I knew I had to have it and that I wanted it to be a surprise present on the 23rd so we could play it that night. The kids had LOVED it when I got a pie in my face on my birthday so I knew it’d be a HIT! I also knew that my husband wouldn’t be a big fan. But doesn’t that make it even more hilarious?
I love Kye’s facial expressions while watching me 🙂
New favorite game?
Not surprisingly, Britt was the best haha
The game quickly turned into “just turn the dial until you get hit” bahaha
I took videos of each of us:
From start to finish it was simply the best day. I’m SO thankful that I have such a supportive, loving, understanding husband who “gets it.” He understands how to meet my needs and listens when I express how I feel. It took us a few years to figure things out but this year was THE perfect balance for me which made it THE BEST Christmas yet! I’m already looking forward to adding more to our home decorations for next year (I know Zach loves that part of it…spending money haha!).