Leighton’s First Christmas


It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and this one was no exception, as it was Leighton’s first Christmas! Even though she doesn’t have a clue what fun we’ve been having this season, it’s amazing how much more exciting and special every holiday gathering, party, and activity becomes once you have a child to share them with.


Coco has also enjoyed Christmas — she got some new toys and treats, and she loved having my family and Lauren’s family over for our annual dinner, which we did a couple nights before Christmas this year. We had fried turkey, popovers, and lots of delicious sides and desserts. I made a butter pecan cake (I got the recipe from Craig’s grandmother over Thanksgiving), and it was a big hit. On Christmas Eve, we headed to Lauren’s parents’ home for a big group dinner with lots of their family and friends. Andrew and Lauren cooked an Italian feast, and we stayed for hours visiting with everyone. These two nights have  become some of my favorite yearly traditions. Also, Leighton turned over a new leaf this week and decided she’d let lots of new people hold her, which was a very welcomed surprise!




On Christmas morning, we got up with Leighton to see what Santa brought her, which was fun for us, even though she doesn’t yet understand just how exciting this is. For her gifts, we went with the “want, need, wear, read” gift guideline, and she got a couple things from each category. Her “want” was a colorful Bla Bla Kid travel play mat, which is so cute and soft! For her “need,” she received a pink suitcase with her name embroidered on it (and the cutest little matching travel case) for all of our upcoming trips. She also got a silicone bib, a Wonderwoman bib/cape, and a set of baby spoons because she’ll soon be starting on rice cereal (how is that possible?!). She got several new colorful headbands and a tiny pair of gold moccasins for “wear.” And finally, for “read,” she got 2 board books to add to her collection — Noah’s Ark and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type. 


She had her 2nd Christmas at my parents’ new house in Marietta. They cooked a big breakfast, and we all opened gifts — Leighton was thrilled to get the pony she wanted! (Don’t tell her it’s not real.) I can’t get over the adorable clothes she received, as well as a really cute personalized book, The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name, and a sweet wooden name puzzle that my dad had made for her.


To continue our celebrations, we headed to Nashville to spend the rest of the weekend with Craig’s family. Leighton surprised us even more by letting several people hold her at the big family dinner…a Christmas miracle! She was spoiled with more generous gifts, including additions to her growing wardrobe, some learning toys and a pink swing, and THE CUTEST baby bathrobe with her nickname, LL Cool Hayes, embroidered on the back. It totally looks like a boxing robe, which is pretty hilarious to envision.


We had a fairly low key couple days with Craig’s family, but we did manage to coordinate a big lunch with several of our friends who went to high school with Craig. It was great to catch up and introduce LL to those who hadn’t yet met her.

It’s hard to believe that Leighton’s first Christmas has already come and gone, but what a memorable week it was! I can only imagine the holiday fun we’ll experience with her as she gets older!

a very merry christmas

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas/Hanukkah/anything else you may celebrate! We had a really wonderful week off work visiting Craig’s family and several of our friends in Nashville and then heading back home to Atlanta to spend some time with my family. I just love this time of year — especially the lights, music, food, and fun. For me, it’s a season of giving, spending time with those you love, and being thankful for our great, many blessings.  Here’s a recap of our holiday week…. it’s hard to believe it’s already over and that we’re focusing on the coming new year!
Early Christmas dinner at Craig’s grandparents’ house with his little sister and his brother’s girlfriend… and Coco who was not interested in smiling for a photo.
The lights in the Cottonwood neighborhood in Franklin put the Atlanta neighborhoods to shame. So many festive houses!
Happy Hour @ Urban Grub with one of my besties
Christmas with the Sims family in ATL (notice Riley is much better than Coco is at posing for photos…) 

Yep — this was my Christmas night dinner! 

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is hosting a big dinner at our house every year for our family and my SIL’s parents who live in town. It’s so fun getting together with them, and we just love the chance to host everyone. My dad always fries a turkey, and this year, Coco got a prime spot for carving. 

As part of dessert, we served some of the icewine I brought back from Napa (which is actually made in Canada). It’s super sweet, but it was fun to share. 

Here’s looking forward to what 2015 has to bring!!

deck the halls

It’s December and the halls of the Hayes house have been fully decked for Christmas… so let’s talk decorations!

I’ve had this wreath made from red glass ornaments for a couple years now, and I love the contrast with the navy door… and how light and bright the entryway is with some garland/lights strung around it. I wish the garland was more full, but such is life… maybe I’ll remember to get something better next year. Not pictured are cute little wreaths hung on each of the 5 front windows with a red ribbon, as well as the front bushes covered in white lights. Yay for Christmas lights! It makes me so happy to pull onto our street this time of year… so many festive houses all aglow!

I wanted to update our dining room decorations without having to buy a bunch of new pieces, and when I found these feathery white balls at West Elm, I knew I could do something fun involving a couple of them. I bought 2 and decided they needed to be strung from the light fixture above the dining room table. Instead of the usual colorful decor I’ve had the past several years, I went more neutral and sparkly with white, gold, and silver. I strung a couple unused ornaments from the remaining arms of the chandelier for a fun, flowy effect.


Every Christmas, my grandmother Nana has given a Nutcracker to all of her children’s families. Once her grandchildren have a home of their own, she gives them one as well. Here’s my little collection of three — the new guy with the sparkly red and green jacket is my favorite. I have them displayed in the dining room on the buffet that Craig’s grandfather built. It’s a fun tradition to look forward to each year!


I love having a big, tall fireplace to decorate for the holidays. This giant wreath  is from the Martha Stewart Collection at Home Depot, and these great metal reindeer stocking hangers (and decorative reindeer on the left) are from Pottery Barn. They look like they’re made of silver sticks, and the bases are heavy and deep enough to hold really full stockings — the more goodies, the better! Except that Craig swears our adorable stockings are only big enough to hold a dollar bill… apparently they don’t stretch enough for his liking.


I grew up having live Christmas trees every year and just loved them — the smell, the feel, the fullness. But that was probably partly because I wasn’t responsible for buying/hauling/setting up/decorating/watering it. Now that it’s our turn, we opted for a fake, pre-lit tree from Home Depot. This is our 4th Christmas with our fancy tree, and it’s still going strong. One of my favorite parts is that all we have to do it set it up and plug it in, and it’s all shiny and bright! No unwrapping what seems like miles of tangled lights that we threw in the box the year before. No bristles to clean up, no tree-watering duties. However, I am a little jealous of all those instagram photos I’m seeing of friends at Christmas tree farms lately… so maybe next year, we can add a real tree somewhere in the house for a little extra festiveness.

Last year, I got a little crafty and made a big bow for the tree topper. I went with a shimmery gold ribbon that has wire through the sides to I could shape it nicely. As for how it came together…. staples. Lots of staples. But nobody coming to our house is tall enough to see that, so I’m ok with it.

I always ooh and ahh over those grand, immaculate trees covered with lots of colored glass balls and ribbon, but my favorites are the ones with personalized ornaments that have been made out of popsicle sticks, painted by hand, or filled with a photo of family. For years, I have been collecting special ornaments from all of our travels…. Austria (where I studied abroad), Charleston (where we got engaged), Peter Island (where we honeymooned)… you get the idea. Those ornaments fill much of our tree, and I love looking at them year after year and remembering those special events, people, and trips. Several childhood ornaments have also been handed down to us by our moms – Craig’s favorite is the one featuring Ninja Turtles riding a sled. And my mom just gave us the cutest personalized Coco replica, which is now front and center on the tree.

After a couple years of searching, I finally found a nativity scene that I really like. I got this at an antique market in Jacksonville last weekend. It’s more abstract than the typical nativity scene — each piece is made of rusted metal and secured to a little wooden base. Aren’t they fun?

I think this recipe is from the December issue of Food Network Magazine, and I’ll definitely be breaking out the crock pot for this one. I just need to find ‘Home Alone’ on TV and I’m set! I hope y’all have fun decking your halls, too!