Christmas at our house.

“Christmas at our house… warm memories…”

They’re the first few words on Barbara Mandrell’s Christmas album, which we listened to on cassette tape (along with Ann Murray’s Christmas) every single Christmas morning growing up. This year, my brother discovered it on vinyl and it’s part of the tradition of the season for me.


The Christmas season is simply too short. It’s anticipated more and more as the year progresses and by the time Thanksgiving is over, it’s full-on. Knowing we had a two-week trip planned at the height of the excitement (during the time I would normally be prepping, decorating, finding and wrapping gifts), I tried to get a head start. But that still meant that upon our return home, we had a week to do it all: finding and decorating the tree, Christmas-ing up the house with seasonal décor and lights, wrapping gifts that had already been attained (and last-minute shopping for the rest), making eggnog, baking holiday cookies, delivering gifts to friends, and party prepping for a birthday celebration for John on Christmas night.

I’ll admit it was a new kind of holiday stress. There’s always a lot going on this time of year, but it was condensed. I took notes from my BFF who reminded me that it doesn’t ALL have to get done. That it’s about being present (not presents). That the season is about love and shouldn’t be stressful. I did my very best to enjoy all of it. 

We decorated the house and made a big old batch of the secret-recipe eggnog. I baked Cranberry Hootycreeks and we packaged up goodies, nog, and cookies for friends.

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Presents got wrapped (my favorite thing!) and shipped to far-off family. Boris joined the family and gifts were tucked under his boughs. Christmas cards from loved ones were hung and classic movies kept us in the spirit.

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On Christmas Eve, we had a delicious meal at Grappa Italian Restaurant involving bubbly, incredible wine, fondue, Bolognese, branzino, and canolis. On Christmas morning, we awoke to a fresh blanket of deep snow. A white Christmas!

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John skied early to enjoy his birthday gift (fresh powder) while I made our holiday sticky buns. When he returned, we had his family tradition of caviar and champagne with our nog and sticky buns and dove into the pile under the tree. We were spoiled by family members (and each other). My favorite gift is probably the super rad tambourine I received from Hot Hubby.

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After Christmas, it’s birthday time. For years, we had a Southern shrimp boil on Christmas night (in honor of John’s Southern mama). It’s surprising how many people can make it.It’s been two years since we had a shrimp boil- the last one was with 80 people at our rehearsal dinner! Here are a few shots of various shrimp boils over the years. What fun!


This year, I made a big salad and a scrumptious cheesy baked grits casserole, along with these crostini and other snacks and John’s requested gooey brownies for dessert.  It was a super fun party with just the right amount of people, good food, and plenty of nog and wine. The birthday boy ended the evening in his music room, jamming on the guitar with friends.

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It all happened so fast! Though Christmas is over, our holiday season is not. We leave on Tuesday for Charleston, South Carolina to ring in the New Year with dear friends. I’ll also be celebrating the big 4-0 there, marking the true end of our holiday madness (which starts in October with our anniversary). When we return, it will already be time to stash away Christmas for another year. But we have a season full of unique memories and comforting traditions to smile about.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

One year ago: A holiday (DIY) photo booth backdrop.

Two years ago: Christmas 2012 recap


  1. 1) Stop flaunting that egg nog! 🙂
    2) Where did you get your beautiful barrels for your front door decor? I’ve seen them in a few of your seasonal posts, and I’ve always loved how they can be so easily spruced up with squash or poinsettias! Hopefully your answer isn’t “somewhere-fabulous-and-local” because I am in Wisconsin… 😛

  2. happy 40th birthday. that was a hard birthday for me personally. hope you all had a great time. happy birthday to my brother and merry Christmas and happy new year to my sister in- law love you both miss you all. great pictures love it all so much

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