How do you handle spending time with both your family and Dave’s family during the holidays?
We usually alternate one holiday with Dave’s family and one with mine! Usually, this means spending Thanksgiving in Michigan with Dave’s mom and Christmas with my family in Wisconsin. Dave’s parents are separated and live on opposite sides of the state so we try to see them to celebrate the holidays as a whole separately. So Dave’s mom actually was here for Thanksgiving (my sister was hosting her first Thanksgiving for my parents and she wanted to come!) and stayed for 3 days so we could celebrate Thanksgiving and Jack’s birthday. A week before that we went to Denver with Dave’s dad to see Dave’s brother and his wife and kids. My entire family lives here in Chicago and we usually spend Christmas with them!
Who is the hardest person in your family to shop for?
My dad! He is hard because he wants nothing, if he sees something he actually wants, he will buy it. He isn’t into technology (he doesn’t work out with headphones, he hates cool activity watches, he doesn’t listen to music at home), he isn’t into popular gifts, he is a man of very simple pleasures. I usually have to get really creative and keep my ears open throughout the year to think of something that he would actually use! He has been complaining about his dry skin for the past few months so I got him the Necessaire Body Essentials (use code LIZ10 for 10% off!) and a loofa on a stick this year! Haha.
What does Christmas morning look like for your family?
We wake up early, my mom makes everyone coffee and we wait until everyone is awake to open presents (usually this is EARLY). We then get situated, relax and then around 9/10 am we all cook breakfast together! The rest of the day is very low key, we usually go for a walk if it’s nice out and just hang with each other!
How many gifts do you give Charlie and Jack from Santa? Are any from you and Dave, or are they all from Santa?
We usually get them 2 gifts that they mention to Santa that they want. Charlie asked Santa this year for 6 T-Rex’s, 4 Nerf guns, a police car and a garbage truck so we got him one dinosaur and one nerf gun. Jack doesn’t talk yet so we just got him 2 little things from Santa. Then Dave and I got them these personalized suitcases (on sale!) for travel and each of them got a few other little gifts (like legos and playmobile and cars) from us!
What’s one Christmas tradition you’re keeping from growing up? Have you and Dave added any new traditions for your boys?
When I was growing up we always visited my grandparents for Christmas (we alternated each side every year). My dad’s Christmas tradition was to open every present from family on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning you only open the gifts from Santa. Now, we all open one present on Christmas Eve. We also watch It’s A Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve as a family. When I got a little older and we started celebrating Christmas at home as a family, my siblings and I would always wait at the top of the stairs until my parents told us we could come down. It was always so exciting! I think I would love to spend Christmas with grandparents/family until we start our own traditions at our own house. Then I hope to incorporate more of our own traditions! Right now it is so fun to be amongst family!
What gift are you most excited to give Charlie and Jack this year?
Probably the luggage! Charlie has casually mentioned it the last few times we have traveled with them when he sees other kids using them and I think he will be so excited! I think it will be the biggest surprise. Then when we fly to Charleston a few days after Christmas they can use them!
Any holiday breakfast ideas? I just got put on breakfast duty for Christmas morning!
My mom and I always make a Puff Pastry Breakfast Pizza (this recipe looks just like it!) and an Overnight French Toast Casserole. Both are from old recipes that my mom has had so not sure of the exact! With a side of bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, fruit salad and mimosas/bloody mary’s!
What’s the number one item on your Christmas wishlist this year?
I just posted my personal Christmas wishlist on the blog yesterday! I actually didn’t ask for anything this year. There is nothing I need!
For Christmas, I want to give my boyfriend an “experience” gift that we could do together! He currently lives in Chicago and I live in Columbus so I want to make it special (aka not a basketball/football game). Any recommendations?
My friend Grace just did an amazing gift guide of experience gifts! But being in Chicago you could do a brewery tour of Chicago, and an architectural tour followed by lunch when the weather warms up, a Chicago River dinner cruise, you could drive up to Wisconsin and stay at the American Club for a little escape – to name a few!
What are your favorite and least favorite parts about the holidays?
Favorite: the entire feeling of the season, Christmas lights, the overall happy spirits that people are in, gift-giving, cooking, spending time with my loved ones. Least favorite: it goes too fast!
What did Christmas look like for you and Dave before you had kids?
Ohhh, I honestly don’t remember! Haha. We only spent one Christmas together married before kids. I think it was with my family? When we were dating Dave would usually come to me the day after Christmas or I would go to him!
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
Probably my Miele Coffee Machine, ha!
What’s your go-to red wine? Favorite holiday cocktail?
Go-to red wine: Smith & Hook Cabernet or Justin Cabernet! Great wine for a great price. I also just tried Hoopla Cabernet and loved it! I’m a red wine/beer girl.
How do you keep up your fitness routine when you’re at your lake house or visiting other family?
Wearing my Apple Watch keeps me in check! My family is very active so we usually go on long walks, I’ll go on a run outside or do a circuit with weights. We have a 4-mile loop that we usually do or I’ll do sprint circuits on our driveway. I always try to get moving for 30 minutes a day!
Any last-minute gift ideas for girlfriends?
Where did you get the train that goes around your Christmas tree?!
It’s this one!!
If you are hosting New Year’s Eve and it gets really late, how do you (politely, haha) get people to leave?
Haha have you seen this video?? So funny. I would say if it is your true friends, just be honest! I have no shame in telling my friends I’m exhausted because my kids wake up at 5:30am. I have also houdini’d plenty of times, haha.
Can you share that chocolate peppermint bark cookie recipe you were making the other day?
It’s this recipe here—best. cookies. EVER.
What’s your favorite Christmas movie?
White Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life!
What’s your favorite Christmas song?
Anything by Nat King Cole!
What do you and Dave get each other?
This year we aren’t doing anything! We want to take the boys on a warm weather trip early in the year so saving for that. But usually, something that we know the other would love! I’m a big gift giver so I love finding that perfect gift for everyone on my list!
What’s your best hostess gift idea? We have so many parties to attend this year and I’m running out of ideas!
How do you keep up toddler routines with all the holiday travel? When my toddler misses nap time he gets so cranky!
Charlie is dropping his nap right now so he can rally during the day and then crash earlier at night. Jack is hit or miss, we usually try to schedule travel around his nap (either a mid-day flight or driving during nap time) but if it doesn’t happen then I know he will catch up that night or the next day. I am not as crazy stressed about their sleep anymore because I know that they will make it up. I go into travel days knowing that they will be a hot mess and usually it allows me to be pleasantly surprised by their behavior! If I go in with low expectations I don’t get as worked up about lost sleep/long days. Just do what you can and if everything goes to shit, start over tomorrow 🙂
What’s your go-to appetizer for Christmas Eve or other festive get-togethers?
When you worked at an office, what did you gift your coworkers around the holidays? Do you think cookies, a candle, or wine would work? Help!
Yes for sure! I don’t know if we did much. I honestly feel like you can’t go wrong with a Yeti coffee mug. I also remember getting my female coworkers gift certificates for a manicure!
Any tips for navigating drinking at holiday parties when you’re preggo and don’t want to tell anyone yet?
Club soda with a lime! Have your husband make it for you and ask for a vodka soda but have a plan that he will just make it soda. 😉 That was always our trick!
Any NYE party outfit ideas? Maybe a fun top to wear with jeans?
Do you have a New Year’s Resolution for 2020?
Be more present.
This is the last Q+A of 2019!! We will be back in 2020 to continue all of the Coffee with Liz love!! Thank you, friends! xoxo