Why I’m Done Going All Out For Holidays (and Why I’m Also a Liar)

Holidays. Ugh. I have such a love/hate relationship with them. Well, not the actual holidays, just everything else that comes along with them. Err, moreso everything that I do for them. For my kids. It’s my mom’s fault, honestly. Wait… let’s back up.

Growing up, my parents made holidays a big deal. Every holiday was fun and exciting! My mom always put up decorations, we always had special outfits to wear, they made sure we always did something fun as a family to celebrate, and we always woke up to a surprise in the morning.

Beautifully wrapped Easter baskets, gold coins and shamrock tattoos from the leprechaun (who didn’t get trapped in the box we made him), heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolate next to precious stuffed bears and roses for each of us, giant birthday balloons and colorfully wrapped gifts. My sister and I looked forward to every single holiday because they made them so fun and special, and those memories still stick with me today. I couldn’t wait until the day I’d get to do those same things for my own kids.


It’s so fun…

Now here I am, with two girls of my own, walking in my mom’s footsteps (because let’s be honest, it’s us moms who bring that extra *magic* most of the time), going above and beyond to make every holiday special and memorable for them. For every holiday, I make sure to pick up the house, put up decorations, cover the table in a festive tablecloth, and leave surprises on it for the girls to walk out to when they wake up, followed by a themed breakfast of some sort. My oldest daughter calls it a “set” and loves it. She talks about it for weeks leading up to the holiday — every single one of them — and counts down until the night finally arrives when she gets to wake up to a “set.”

My oldest on her 7th birthday in front of her “set.”
A yard sign in front of our house for a birthday surprise has become a tradition she loves.

I don’t always go crazy. The gifts range from large to small, detailed to simple, all depending on the specific holiday, the day it falls on, and what else is going on around that time. And while I know they love it and have fun with it, I do it just as much for myself as I do for them. I have so much fun picking everything out and putting it all together, then setting it up and arranging everything perfectly. I thoughtfully pick out gifts for each child and always try to include a mix of things they need (i.e. undies, a new toothbrush, a water bottle or lunch box for school, practical clothes) along with a few items I think they’d have fun with mixed with a couple of treats. I love seeing them get so excited leading up to it and then popping out of bed full of joy and anticipation, running to the dining room to see what surprises are in store. It’s always so much fun bringing joy to your kids, and seeing their eyes light up. It’s so fun to see them so happy!


Day 1: our elf has arrived! And he brought a special new guest. The magic and the pure joy … this is what it’s all about! #elfontheshelf #elfontheshelfideas #elf #popcornyandliz #elfontheshelfadventures #elfonthedaily #christmasmagic #magicofchristmas #christmas #kidtok #christmastok #christmasfyp #elffyp #elfisback

♬ Bright christmas songs – Pad

…until it’s not fun.

And they’re not happy. Instead, they’re whining because they didn’t get the same pink bear as their sister, refusing to wear the dress because it doesn’t have pockets, mad they got sparkly slime instead of neon slime, won’t eat breakfast because it’s not the right kind of pancake, or snatching their sister’s stickers because she got one extra, and it’s not fair. And then I’m trying to tell them to be grateful as calmly as possible, until it’s one complaint too many, and I lose my cool and start having a mini tantrum of my own and tell them I’m never doing this for them again.

And my husband is trying to mediate and calm all of us down because holy moly, that escalated quickly, and he’s treading lightly because the kids are apparently fragile right now, and it’s my time of the month, and he’s just trying to help us all enjoy the morning, but then I start fussing at him for not being the one to ever put together the holiday surprises, and he just knows I enjoy doing it and doesn’t want to get in my way because he knows I enjoy doing it.

And then eventually everyone calms down, hugs and apologizes, and we go on with our day having a great time. So THAT is why I’m no longer going “above and beyond” for holidays anymore. It’s not worth the stress. Why would I want to spend my money, time, and energy doing all of that for children who don’t appreciate it?


Because… they actually do. They’re just 7 and 2 years old and don’t know how to express it properly yet. And after talking to my mom and sharing my frustrations with her, she told me I sounded just like her 25 years ago. That she did the same thing for every holiday and was greeted with the same meltdowns and “ungrateful” children who made her so upset that she swore she’d never do it again. But then she did. And you know what? I’m so glad she did. Because those are some of my most favorite memories of my childhood, and my sisters as well. Not the gifts or the treats (I do remember a few though, and I make sure to always include those for my kids, as well), but the excitement and how special she made every holiday. Those are the memories I want to create for my children, too. Because while I know they may seem unappreciative and may not show the reactions I hope for, I know how much they really do enjoy and appreciate it, how excited they get, and how much those memories will mean to them into their adulthood.

We always ask our kids what their favorite part of the day was, and when we asked our 7-year-old that question the evening of her birthday, her response was, “The set. That’s always my favorite. I love when you do that because it’s so special.” Not the party, not the gifts, not the cake, and not even the activities we did to celebrate her. It was waking up to a special morning after having something to look forward to.

SO excited to walk out to Easter surprises!

My mom had the pressures of Martha Stewart, and we have the pressures of the perfect Pinterest moms and Instagram influencers who go over the top for everything. But it doesn’t have to be that big of a deal, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. Our kids truly enjoy and appreciate small little efforts that make special days of the year seem big and exciting. Even if it may not feel like it in the moment, looking back it will all be worth it. Thanks, Mom (and Dad!), for sticking it out and making the little moments so much bigger and more magical for us. If I didn’t tell you then, thank you. It really was so special. I know my girls will share the same sentiment one day, and I hope they’ll continue the same stressful yet uber-rewarding moments with their own children one day.


Blakeley Vinicky
Born and raised in Savannah, GA, Blakeley has been a Jacksonville resident for more than 14 years. She moved to Jax temporarily for an internship at The Jacksonville Landing (RIP), fell in love with the city and a boy (her now husband), and ended up sticking around. She is married to loud and crazy Chicago-native Jimmy Vinicky of nearly 10 years, and has two daughters, Daisy and Poppy. In addition to writing for Jacksonville Mom, she works full time in Public Relations, runs her own lifestyle blog This Blonde Life, and is a freelance makeup artist. She loves adventuring with her family, and you’ll rarely catch her sitting around home doing nothing. Her favorite local spots include Sipper’s and Breezy coffee houses, Wicked Barley Brewing, Cap’s on the Water, Ink Factory, happy hour at One Ocean’s Azurea, and soaking up rays at the beach.


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