Okay, so in all fairness it's been a WILD Holiday break. And by that I mean I was off work for 11 days and literally did nothing. And by that I mean as much "nothing" as someone who is stir crazy/OCD/clean obsessed/bored easily can handle.
A couple things to recap (please excuse my picture overload but a picture is worth a thousand words, right?);
CHRISTMAS | Cookies, Gifting & 70 Degree Weather
I wish that 70 degrees was a joke. I was legit sweating on Christmas attempting to look cute in a long sleeve shirt and jeans (shoulda gone with a tank top, geeze). Christmas Eve we always spend at my Step Mom's parents house. Dinner and drinking ensues, along with gift exchanges with that side of the family. Christmas Morning my 2 brothers and I spend at my Dad & Step Mom's house, complete with breakfast casserole, not enough coffee and stockings from Santa. Christmas Night is usually at Mom's, yet another caloric feast (nearly a Thanksgiving repeat) and a new crock pot from Mom - WOO!
One of my favorite parts of this season is baking cookies. When we were little my mom used to make a TON to have out during parties and give to neighbors. I've recently taken over that tradition and usually end up making 6-7 different types and bringing trays over to family. This year I made Peanut Butter Blossoms, Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies, Buckeyes, Snickerdoodles, Caramel Ribbon Bars (crowd favorite) and a new one I introduced was Gingerbread Cheesecake Bites. I've linked my favorite recipes if you want to try any of them and trust me they're ALL delicious; my dad's side of the family ate two entire trays.
My other favorite part of Christmas is choosing and giving gifts. I love coming up with presents that are thoughtful yet useful and I think I get more excited watching people's reactions to opening them than I do opening my own presents (although the hammock my brother got me was pretty freakin' sweet).
My gift list this year was as follows;
Lil' Bro & Step Bro - Both of them are recently super big into watches so I got them each a personalized leather watch box from Brookstone.
[Groupon had a $25 for $50 coupon and Brookstone had a 15% discount on one box and THEN an additional buy one/get one 50% off promo so I only ended up spending $25 on each instead of $65 each!]
Dad & Step Mom - Gift ideas for these two are few and far between. They literally have everything. I decided to go with the gift of spending time together instead of a physical gift and got them a Groupon for a vineyard tour, bottle of wine and two souvenir glasses at Treehouse Vineyards in Monroe, NC. It's the coolest, they have actual treehouses!
Mom - Mom's easy to shop for, she's one of those people that knows exactly what she needs. This year I got her her favorite (& a yearly tradition) Yankee Candle; Housewarmer Home Sweet Home, a calendar featuring any tropical locations (she wants to live vicariously) and a new outdoor grill cover from Brookstone.
Older Bro - Obsessed with his mustang but too lazy to clean it. Helloooo AutoBell Carwash giftcard. Cheesy, but at least I knew he'd use it :)
Step Sister - She's 18 and in a sorority at UNC Wilmington so I made her a fashionable tassel necklace featuring her school colors (see below!)
Friends - My girlfriends Sam, Leslie and Kristin (who came to see us from Charlottesville) had a holiday exchange complete with oven baked chicken fajitas, margs and a glass that holds an entire bottle of wine. Seriously, I got it for Sam - check out the picture at the bottom of this section. I got the girls a few personalized items (coffee mug, tassel keychain) and some other small things.
NEW YEARS | Champagne, Sparkles & Really Long Lines
So, New Years Eve is always an adventure in Charlotte. You can either pay $200 for an all-inclusive fancy night out OR you can go to a brewery with no cover and wait for 45 minutes to get a beer THEN pray you're dehydrated enough that you don't have to pee ... or use the bush outside like you're back in college. We weren't dehydrated enough #gross. We started out the night with a few bottles of champagne and some munchies at my friend Danielle's house then ventured over to Sycamore Brewing for what we thought would be a good time with good beer and good friends. Don't get me wrong, it was a ton of fun, but Sycamore dropped the ball (pun intended) on the amount of people they planned for. Like, it was RIDICULOUS. They only had 6 bartenders in the entire place, ran out of pitchers and we even caught word later that the Fire Marshall shut it down right before midnight. My heels were covered in mud, we eventually ran out of beer and no one wanted to wait another 45 minutes to get one. We ended up going back to Sam's sister Ali's house to ring in 2016. May or may not be the last time we physically go out for NYE, whaddup house party!
As you can see, the past few weeks have been a blur of fun and shenanigans. I hope everyone had a safe, festive holiday and that you're all ready for a prosperous 2016!