Skip to Content

Winter Break 2023

Happy New Year, friends!

We had a wonderful long winter break. The kids return to school tomorrow and part of me is ready to hit the ground running for 2024, and the other part of me still wants to crawl back into my bed. It always takes me a bit to get going after coming off the busy holiday season. Once Christmas is over, I tend to let everything go — emails, working out, Instagram, cooking, the blog, and more. I basically just run out of steam.

So over the next few days I’m working to refocus my mindset, get back to the gym, put away the last of the holiday decor, catch up on laundry, toss all the junk food, tackle stacks of mail and unbox packages, deep clean everything, process returns, schedule a million appointments, register the kids for winter/spring sports, oh…and WORK!

Anyway, as I began cleaning out my camera roll from the past few weeks, I couldn’t believe how much has happened! I couldn’t decide if I should write a bunch of different posts covering it all, cram it all into one long post, or skip a winter break recap all together. Ultimately, I decided to just do a longer highlight reel…

There are no words to describe how comforting and happy we felt spending our first holiday season in our new home. There have been so many instances over the past 11 months where Matt or I will say to one another “Can you believe we get to live here? That this is our house?!” It honestly feels like a dream. And not just because I swoon over our crown molding and light fixtures. It’s the feeling, the vibe within our home that warms me to my core.

It was also our first Christmas with Mabel which made it even sweeter! I could honestly write an entire post on the overwhelming happiness she brings our family. I truly cannot believe we ever lived life without her.


The weeks leading up to Christmas were busier than usual because we squeezed in TWO trips down to Charleston for Thomas’ IOL surgeries. In fact, we are heading back to Charleston this week for his final post-op appointment and get him fitted for new glasses. Then he should hopefully be cleared to rejoin his basketball teams and resume normal activities!

Since Thomas was still in his eye surgery recovery period, for the first time in a long time we stayed home the entire break whereas usually we would be traveling to visit one side of our family. And while we definitely missed my family in Florida this year, we were grateful to have had mom stay with us for a week before Christmas, and Matt’s family stayed with us through Christmas!

A few more highlights leading up to Christmas included baking lots of sugar cookies, Caroline and I attended our 7th Nutcracker together — one of our favorite annual traditions, and we experienced the magical Gingerbread Lane at the Ballantyne Hotel (first time for us and we will definitely do it again)!

Christmas Eve

Still one of my absolute favorite holidays, Christmas Eve is always such a fun day of anticipation. I love it so much! And this year Matt’s parents and sister (and her puppy!) were here for it too! A few highlights…

  • Matt surprised the kids with homemade Santa pancakes which turned out SO cute!
  • We watched ALL the Christmas movies.
  • I made lots of fun and festive cocktails.
  • Since we had already done SO much baking, Caroline decided on a strawberry cream bundt cake from Nothing Bundt Cake for Jesus’ birthday cake.
  • For dinner, I made a delicious pork tenderloin (turned out even better than I had anticipated!), balsamic glazed carrots with goat cheese, mashed potatoes (Caroline’s request), green beans, and dinner rolls.
  • After dinner we all played Left Center Right and Matt won.
  • The kids exchanged their Christmas gifts. Thomas gifted Caroline press-on nails and sugar scrub. And Caroline gifted Thomas an Ohio State water bottle. Everyone was really happy.
  • We sprinkled magic reindeer food across the yard and set out milk and cookies for Santa (and carrots for the reindeer)!

Christmas Day

At 7 a.m. we gave the kids the green light to rush downstairs! Seeing their faces on Christmas morning always me so happy. It’s truly magical and makes ALL the work worth it. It was also really sweet to have Matt’s family experience Christmas morning with us.

  • This year we gifted the kids new bikes!
  • After devouring a sausage quiche and cinnamon rolls, there was a constant flow of snacks and appetizers all day including prosciutto-wrapped + Boursin cheese stuffed sweet peppers, a Christmas tree snack board, whipped goat cheese with hot honey, smoked sausage cranberry bites, and cranberry salsa (which was a new recipe and my personal favorite)! Ann also brought a TON of homemade treats like oreo pops, Buckeyes, 3 types of fudge and white chocolate dipped pretzels!
  • By lunchtime the kids were already bouncing between all the houses playing with friends.
  • When we weren’t whipping up appetizers and snacks, Ann and I dedicated ourselves to assembling a 1,000-piece Christmas puzzle. We were absolutely addicted and finished it in 2 days!
  • For dinner I gave myself the greatest gift — baked ziti that I pre-made and froze earlier in the week, plus a kale salad and garlic knots.
  • One more round of Left Center Right after dinner…and this time Thomas won!

The Very Long Weird Week Between Christmas & New Years…

It was also so nice to step away from my phone and keyboard for a bit after Christmas. Q4 always takes it out of me and it was really nice to take a break from writing and consuming content the last few weeks of 2024.

Our home felt very full all winter break long which was great for keeping the kids busy. On any day, you could find 2-6 extra pairs of sneakers kicked off outside the front door, our driveway served as a parking lot for bicycles, rollerblades and scooters, smack talk and KIND bar wrappers trailed down the playroom stairs as the boys competed in Madden 24, and the girls were mostly spotted re-filling their Stanley’s and reattaching their press-on nails before rushing back out the door to practice cheer stunts and roam the neighborhood. Our door opened a million times a day, sleepover negotiations were always in progress, and I gave up trying to keep the snack drawers stocked. But when there wasn’t an abundance of noise it was gloriously silent…because the kids bounce between houses a LOT too.

We got SO much rain over winter break, further stalling our pool progress and basically turning our backyard into a ginormous mud pit. However, several crews returned today to get things moving again. Even though we’ve got a long ways to go, I am so ready to get this project wrapped up.

Matt and I celebrated my “Carolina Charm End of Year Party” with a fun dinner out together. We love to use this night to reflect back on the year and dream up ideas for 2024.

Separately, we had our annual End of Year Celebration & Planning Meeting! We reviewed last year’s goals, drafted our 2024 goals (personal, family, marriage, business, finance and kids), and planned out our year ahead (vacations, holiday travel, budgets, summer, house plans, etc.). It was a really good meeting and I am really looking forward to a lot fewer house projects this year!!!

New Years Celebration

We rang in 2024 with a sleepover party with several of our close friends! This was definitely at the top of our winter break highlights for both the kids and parents.

I whipped up a rosemary-infused French 75 for our signature pitcher cocktail, served the traditional good luck foods (pork, collards and cornbread) for dinner, and everyone devoured chocolate fondue for dessert!

It was the most fun night and now I want more adult sleepovers in 2024.

I am really looking forward to the year ahead and am so happy to have you here for another year of fun together! Happy 2024, friends!

Previous Christmases: 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

You'll also love


Wednesday 3rd of January 2024

hi christina......our family works on a new christmas puzzle every year and i loved your 12 days of christmas one! found it on amazon and we'll be doing that one next time. thanks for sharing and saving me time trying to pick one out :)


Wednesday 3rd of January 2024

Ohhhhh please do share your rosemary-infused French 75 pitcher of my 2024 goals is to master four easy to make and serve batch cocktails for different seasons!


Wednesday 3rd of January 2024

Woo hoo! Happy new year -- sounds like a whole heck of a bunch of fun!!! Love that last picture with Sprinkels & Mabel... so precious. I also love the come-and-go of kids in the neighborhood... what a sweet season of life.

Toni :0)

Tuesday 2nd of January 2024

Okay that last photo of Sprinkles and Mabel is perfection!!! Sounds like you had loads of fun. Blessings in 2024 and I can’t wait to see that pool done. You’ll be neighborhood central with that and all the kids! Cheers! 🥰🥂