Two Special Students

This afternoon at around 3:30 p.m., our social media team at Coastal Carolina University will decrease by 66%. At that time, President DeCenzo will be telling the students gathered in the HTC Center to move their tassels from the right to the left. When Eddie Harris and Monica Trepiccione follow the President’s instructions, they will effectively conclude their time with #CCUSocialMedia. I am a little sad about that.

I was very lucky to have Eddie and Monica serve as my social media interns.

Although I am lucky to work with incredible content creators within our University Communication department at CCU, I only have two people working directly in the social media program with me. Eddie has served as my intern for two years and Monica for one. They have both contributed to our social media program immensely and their services will be sorely missed (click here to watch the tribute video we made for Monica and Eddie).

I am going to miss these two!

When I speak to classes, I always tell them my job is awesome. I brag that I have the privilege of interacting with thousands of people via their computer or smart device each day and that I get to represent a first class university in a very public/visible manner. However, I then add that while both of those job duties are cool, nothing is better than the opportunity I have to work with students. Working with Eddie and Monica has reinforced this incredible perk even more.

This is Eddie and I at a senior recognition event in April.

I don’t know where our social media program would be if not for Eddie and Monica; surely not one of the best in the country. Both of these young people brought creativity and perspective to the office each day and helped keep CCU current and fresh in the higher education social media world.

Monica and I (and Ethan) at a #CCUSocialMedia event in October.

Don’t think they hung out and tinkered around on Facebook for the duration of their internships. They did the dirty, grassroots work needed to keep a social media program afloat. I had them running around campus each day, recruiting students for campaigns, covering events where they stuck out like a sore thumb, stringing together lengthy Snapchat stories, perfecting content for me to post on our major channels, and much more. They worked non-business hours, they covered events that I couldn’t attend, and they even worked from home.

I wish both Eddie and Monica the best of luck.

But besides just excelling at their jobs, both were genuine and compassionate people. They asked me about Sloan, inquired about Sidney, patiently explained trends, joked around, and always asked what they could do to further assist. What more could I ask for?

Eddie and Monica didn’t just have an impact on #CCUSocialMedia, they had an impact on me. I can’t wait to watch them graduate today and then keep tabs on them as they find plenty of success in the future. I am extremely appreciative for all they have done and I will always remember them fondly. Don’t Blink.

Need to Hurry Thursday Rundown

Good evening, everyone. Sidney and I are just about to head off to the Coastal Carolina University Christmas party so let’s get right to the Thursday Rundown…

The Best White Elephant Gift – I recently mentioned that scratch offs are the best option to bring to a Chinese gift exchange. However, we won an even better gift at Sidney’s work party. On Saturday night, we left the function with a case of books for Sloan. Called the The Great Big Storytime Collection, it contains 10 stories. As someone who wants as many books for our daughter as possible, this present is going to be very tough to beat. We have already started reading these stories to Sloan and she will patiently sit through one before she starts grabbing at the pages.

The Great Big Storytime comes in a case that opens up into 10 individual stories. This photo shows Sid reading one of them to Sloan.

Planning Babies Around Christmas – In Dear Abby this morning, readers responded to a past letter from someone who suggested parents should plan having their babies around the Christmas season. Doing so, according to the letter, will eliminate the awkward case of a child having both his birthday and Christmas celebrated so close together. Excuse me? Does anyone out there actually think that way? Of course readers responded by saying a December birthday is a blessing and offering up ways that both events can be celebrated in a creative and equal way. These rebuttal letters were great but I couldn’t get past the notion that someone would ever suggest such an obscure “planning” idea in the first place.

Too Much – Every now and then I like to feature an absurd dish/snack from my favorite food account on Twitter. Tonight you are looking at a doughnut ice cream sandwich. In my humble opinion, I think the textures and flavors are mismatched. I don’t think a Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut gels well with ice cream. Take a minute and visualize chomping down on a doughnut with ice cream in the middle. Weird, right? If you forced me to eat that combination, however, I would rather have a scoop of vanilla ice cream as opposed to chocolate. At least the vanilla would streamline the flavor of the odd combination to some degree. I just don’t think this was well thought out.

In my opinion, the Doughnut Sandwich has identity issues.

Christmas Specials – Tis the season for Christmas programming. This year, we are watching more of the one night specials as opposed to the countless Hallmark movies. Sid says that with no crazy pregnancy hormones this year, she just isn’t craving the heartwarming yet predictable (and corny) made-for-TV films. So, a couple nights ago we addressed Christmas cards and wrapped presents will watching the Gwen Stefani Christmas Special. The evening before that, we watched the “Great Christmas Light Fight.” Before that, we watched A Very Pentatonix Christmas Special. All of these shows have helped heighten our holiday spirit. By the way, how does Gwen Stefani continue to look so good?

Sloan at 38 Weeks – Tomorrow, Sloan will turn 38 weeks. Then, on Sunday, she will turn 9 months. After battling sickness last week, Sloan has enjoyed several days of health and happiness. She is still “army crawling” and rolling to get around. Last night I gave her just a tiny taste (well, maybe three tiny tastes) of my hot chocolate and she absolutely loved it. She smacked her lips for several minutes afterwards. She is pretty independent and will sometimes rip the bottle out of our hands and feed herself. She is counting down the days until Christmas morning.

This is Sloan’s 38 week photo collage.

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Like I said, we have a holiday party to get to! Have a wonderful weekend and don’t miss out on those Christmas specials. Don’t Blink.

Yet Another Great #CCU Holiday Video

To watch the 2017 #CCU Holiday Video, click here

A true test of talent can be found in versatility. Sure, we are all good at certain techniques and areas within our respective jobs. However, are we gifted enough to produce positive results when we decide to switch gears?

I pose this question to celebrate the success of the 2017 #CCU Holiday Video.

Today at noon, we released our latest annual installment of digital cheer. This year’s holiday video came after a string of successful predecessors, culminating in our 2016 hit that took our campus by storm and smashed view records.

The 2016 #CCU Holiday Video was a massive hit and left a lot to live up to this year.

The task to follow up last year’s viral sensation fell on the shoulders of the duo who created the monster in the first place. Our senior marketing director, Lindsi Glass, and our production manager, Geoff Insch, teamed up again to produce the 2017 version.

What would these two content creator geniuses come up with this time? Having built a successful reputation for creating catchy and creative videos that go outside the norm and push the envelope, did they have another idea up their sleeves that would once again include an original song, a well-known pop culture theme, and over 200 extras?

It is to relief of many that I only appear in the 2017 #CCU Holiday Video once. My cameo comes at the very end when I hold up the letter “H” in the word “Holidays.”

Not this year.

Instead of piggy-backing off of 2016, they pulled a 180. Rather than go for the funny bone, they went for the heart. To say the least, it worked.

This year’s video stars an 6-year-old girl named Lilly. A real life member of the emerging population of young people growing up with teal blood already circulating through their veins, Lilly writes a holiday letter to President DeCenzo. As he starts to read it, a voiceover by Lilly clues in the audience about what was written. Penning the letter in a very eloquent manner for someone just 6 years of age (with perhaps a little bit of help), she expresses what makes Coastal Carolina so special while exclaiming “there’s just so much to be proud of.”

The video centers on Lilly, a natural star.

During the voiceover, our beautiful campus is showcased and some of the people who make it such a great place are featured. But between the beauty shots of #TEALnation and the images of President DeCenzo and Mrs. DeCenzo gushing over the note, there is a heartwarming dynamic that plays out between Lilly and the person who sticks close to her side throughout the video.

Caroline Smith is our university editor and Lilly’s mom. She was nice enough to stand in for a crucial supporting role in the production. The mother-daughter relationship is hinted at throughout the entire video but it isn’t fully revealed until the very end. When the connection is finally disclosed, it is done in the sweetest way; a way in which has made our #CCU community tear up all day long, a way in which makes it mandatory that you watch it, a way in which will truly make you appreciate what Lindsi and Geoff accomplished.

Lilly and Caroline work together to provide a classic and touching performance.

It was no simple task following up last year’s video, especially with a completely different concept. But our University Communication staff pulled it off and once again made our entire CCU community proud. To Lindsi, Geoff, Caroline and, last but not least, Lilly – great work! Don’t Blink.

The $25,000 Man 7 Years Later

Today is an anniversary that is commemorated by the Reser brothers. Seven years ago on December 11, 2010, my brother, Glen, hit a major jackpot at a seedy bowling alley casino in Spokane, Washington. On a cold and snowy night, his stroke of luck won him $25,000 on the spot. He was 21 years old at the time.

After Glen won the $25,000, we went to Vegas a few days later. This is him at the original O’Sheas playing some Blackjack.

I usually mark this anniversary by sharing on social media the blog post I wrote about the crazy night. Although over six years old and terribly written, this particular piece of content is one of the most viewed blog posts in the history of Don’t Blink. The piece chronicles the pandemonium that took place at Lilac Lanes when Glen hit it big, along with the shenanigans and gross mismanagement of money that immediately ensued.

I also commemorate the anniversary by either calling or texting Glen and asking him how much of that money is left? The question is always expressed with a heavy dose of sarcasm because practically every cent of that jackpot was sucked dry before the first anniversary ever came around.

But perhaps that sobering fact shouldn’t be met with much surprise. I mean honestly, what 21-year-old is going to make sound decisions with a large sum of money?

I am not here tonight though to poke fun at Glen or detail how the money was spent/lost. Rather, I just want to put in perspective the amount of money that was won while also reinforcing a point I have made in an earlier blog post.

Last night, Sidney and I watched “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” The grand prize was $10,000. The family that took home the top honor on that particular episode celebrated as if it was a life changing event (I would have too!!). Now, contrast that with some kid winning 2.5X that amount just for being dealt some cards.

At the time seven years ago, both Glen and I had no idea how much of a gift and blessing that amount of money was. Let me try to explain that better. We knew it was a lot of money but we didn’t appreciate it. We had no idea how it could come in handy in the future when we eventually graduated to the status of responsible adults.

(I say “we” because Glen was generous to me with his winnings and, looking back on it, I encouraged him to make one or two not so good decisions with his loot. I hold myself accountable for contributing to the squandering).

If Glen strolled into Lilac Lanes tonight and defied all the odds and won that fat jackpot again, you can bet things would be a little different. That money would stretch a little longer.

But, it is my hope that Glen doesn’t set foot in a gambling venue. Over the years, I have come to believe that gambling is a destructive activity, especially for the younger population. I feel it cultivates a distorted view of money, one that can potentially have long term consequences. Although a gambler once myself, I now identify more with the anti-casino stance.

Yes, the story from seven years ago is still a great one. Honestly, read my blog post, it will take you for a ride. But winning money is so much different from earning it, especially when you are young. Looking back on the episode from 2010, as hard as some might have trouble believing it, I don’t think it was the best thing that ever happened. Don’t Blink.

The Lost Santa Activity

These days, there is no shortage of ways for children to experience the magic of Santa Claus. At every corner there seems to be a man dressed in a red suit. Apps can superimpose a photo of Santa putting presents under the tree. Every restaurant seems to offer a “breakfast with St. Nick” opportunity. Communities stage Santa sleigh spectacles where the jolly guy literally flies in from the sky.

All of this is awesome, I really mean that. However, I like to advocate a Santa activity that relies a little less on instant gratification. Instead, I would like to remind all of us about something that most of us did prior to the digital age but now might be considered a bit outdated.

Do you know where I am going with this?

Take the time this holiday season to allow your child to write to Santa.

In my heart, I still remember the magic I felt when I received my first letter from Santa in the mail. My parents helped me write a card to Santa Claus and helped me ship it off to the North Pole. Then, after what seemed like forever, I received a letter back. I tore it open and on red stationary with a cartoon of Santa drawn on it, was a handwritten response. It was beyond special.

Receiving a handwritten letter from Santa was very special for me.

As I grew older, we would write letters to Santa in elementary school. We would get a response from those as well, but they would usually be from one of Mr. Claus’s elves, such as Gumdrop or Snow Fluff. Although special as well, nothing compared to writing that first letter to Santa from home and then receiving an actual response from the big guy himself. After all, I would later learn that Santa never made those elves send letters to our school; it was just the sixth grade students working on their creative writing.

These days, the options are plentiful for adults when it comes to organizing a Santa letter activity for their kids. Children can still write a letter to Santa and address it to the North Pole and the United States Post Office will take care of the rest. You can also control the response that is written but penning your own letter and stuffing it in with your kid’s note. Then, the post office will separate the letters and send the one you wrote back to your residence, complete with a North Pole postmark. Just make sure you disguise your handwriting well enough so your little one doesn’t figure it out.

This postmark from the North Pole is everything to kids.

If you want something quicker and more involved, search online for one of the many Santa letter companies in business. From there you can order glossy and detailed letters from Kris Kringle straight to your mailbox. Rush delivery is available.

This Christmas season, bring back a lost art. Promote letter writing while also teaching your children about the wonders of the mail service. Most importantly, give them a special Santa experience that has since been forgotten. Don’t Blink.

Comic and Soda Thursday Rundown

Good evening, my friends. Hope everyone has had a great first week of December. How about we begin with another Thursday Rundown?

Classic Comic – I shared this Family Circus comic strip on my Instagram account exactly five years ago today and for good reason – it is funny! I decided to dust it off and present it to you for your enjoyment. The girl asks his father: “Did Santa Claus and Jesus go to school together?” I am going to say probably not.

Still funny after five years.

My Cover Story – Almost two weeks ago, I shared the news that I wrote the cover story for the latest issue of our university alumni publication, Coastal Magazine. I counted it as a career highlight and a big step up from my blogging roots. The story is now online, so if you feel inclined, please feel free to read my work by clicking here.

I had the honor of writing the cover story of the latest Coastal Magazine issue.

Dr. Pepper – Back in May, I wrote about my top 5 favorite sodas. Cracking the top spot was Dr. Pepper. Thus, it only makes sense that I share a graphic I came across on my Timehop app about the storied history of the drink. Dr. Pepper was invented in 1885 and it was first sold by a pharmacist! That makes it even older than Coca-Cola. In a world of countless different soft drinks, according to my taste buds, the soda world got it right the first time.

Dr. Pepper is really good…and also really old.

Price Comparison – We used to frequent the supermarket right next to our house, Lowe’s, for our grocery needs (it is a really nice store!). However, we now go to Walmart Market for most of our shopping. One of the reasons why? Pricing! As an ice cream fanatic, I have to share this pricing disparity. You can purchase a tub of Great Value ice cream for a staggering $1.84 at Walmart. When I went and picked up some sour cream for our tacos the other night at Lowe’s, I looked at its store brand ice cream and noticed the $4.99 price next to its tubs. That is a difference of over the $3! But it is more than just the price; it is the quality! When I conducted a blind taste test, Walmart’s Great Value ice cream was far superior to the ice cream made by Lowe’s. You can make your own decision on where you want to buy your frozen dessert but I am sticking to Walmart!

I took the photo of the Lowe’s ice cream ($4.99) just recently and I took the photo of the Walmart ice cream ($1.84) during the summer.

Sloan at 38 Weeks – Well, it has been a bit of a tough week for Sloan. She came down with a fever and has been sweating it out the past few days. Sid and I have taken turns staying home from work to care for her. The good news is that it looks like she is on the mend! She is still as sweet as ever and even though she might not be saying it consciously, the sounds DA-DA come out of her mouth all the time. She has also mastered the “Army crawl.” We received her Santa photos yesterday and they are fantastic. I will share the experience with all of you after we send out our Christmas cards. Until then, here is the latest photo collage.

This is Sloan’s photo collage at 38 weeks.

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The holiday season is in full swing. I am preparing myself for the annual Palmetto Bays Christmas party (Sidney’s work party) this weekend. If you are also venturing out over the next couple days to a holiday function, don’t forget my tips. Feliz Navidad! Don’t Blink.

Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2017

We are in December and that means it is time to reminisce a bit on the year that was (and still is for about 25 more days). I am known to offer up my “Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs” around this time of the year so that is what you will get tonight.

Each year I seem to sound like a broken record (notice the music pun?) because I complain that the selection of eligible songs is slim. Hate to say it, but I feel the same way this year. Although I had identified a couple songs as shoo-ins for this list, I had to really reflect on the other few songs that I actually enjoyed enough to include. As you will see, this 2017 list is dominated mostly by dudes. Enjoy…

5. “Ready For It” – Taylor Swift

Some thought I was tough on Taylor in a blog post I wrote last month so hopefully her inclusion on this list will dispel any notions of a Don’t Blink bias. Underwhelmed by Swift’s first song off her album, “Look What You Made Me Do,” her follow up single was much more to my liking. I feel “Ready For It” is a great representation of Swift’s versatile, catchy style.

Although I am lukewarm about her rapping sequences throughout the song (well at least I think that is what they are) I enjoy it when the melody changes tempo, especially when it gets to the In the middle of the night… sequence. Yes, this song is about one of Taylor’s ex-boyfriends and the lyrics describe silly fantasies, but it is a really good song to listen to while driving.

4. “Something Just Like This” – The Chainsmokers and Coldplay

I once told Sidney that I didn’t like Coldplay. She then started naming off some of the band’s songs and I realized I might not dislike them as much as I thought I did. Thanks to Sidney’s history lesson, I wasn’t as surprised when I found myself really liking “Something Just Like This.”

I really enjoyed the message of the song. It references superheroes and amazing feats but gets the message across that in order to win over your loved one, you don’t need to be extraordinary or on a different level from everyone else. Rather, you just need to be yourself, and you also need to be able to risk the ups and downs that come with devoting everything to someone. The musical rifts throughout the song are outstanding and I can feel the emotion throughout its entirety.

I almost included “Something Just Like This” as the third song in the video we did for my parents for their 60th birthday party but ended up choosing something else that would be more familiar to everyone. Still, I think it is a great song that describes their lives and marriage.

3. “Thunder” – Imagine Dragons

With Coldplay, I didn’t know for sure if I liked them. With Imagine Dragons, I knew for a fact I didn’t like them…until this song came out.

The song “Thunder” is just so different compared to most songs on the radio. It is original and fresh and uses great audio effects throughout its duration. Although the lyrics aren’t too creative (it probably says the word “thunder” about a thousand times), it is catchy and the female vocals add a lot to it. It was one of those songs that I liked immediately the first time I heard it.

Also, adding to my affinity for the song is the fact that I made a video of Sloan set to “Thunder.” Now, whenever I hear the song on the radio, which is a lot, I immediately think of Sloan! How could I not enjoy that?

2. “Ask Me How I Know” – Garth Brooks

Oh Garth, you do it again. The reason why country music is the best genre is because so much of the songs tell meaningful stories. When you can take someone with a once-in-a-generation voice and pair it with great storytelling, you have something extremely special.

That is why Garth Brooks has been a superstar for so many years and also why “Ask Me How I Know” is such an incredible song. I love the story that is told. The premise of the song is the advice from an elder, who is speaking from experience, to a younger person to not mess up with a girl “you swore you’d never find” because you will regret it for the rest of your life. Although I can’t speak about the messing up part, the way Garth sings about this particular girl completing this particular younger man is how I feel about Sidney completing my life. I can relate!

But let’s not forget that voice. Garth Brooks has not lost a shred of talent and the way he presents this song leaves absolutely no doubt about it.

1. Castle on the Hill – Ed Sheeran

This one is special! Sidney and I listened to this song during the last couple months she was pregnant, and even watched the music video on our Apple TV. Then, after our little girl was born, Sidney would sing the song while dancing with Sloan. Trust me, I have video.

But it just isn’t sentimental reasons for why “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran is my top song of the year. As with “Thunder,” it just has a unique sound to it. Both Sheeran’s voice and the song’s melody make it a very moving piecee. This is a great song to go to bed to and one to wake up to as well. It just works.

As for the lyrics themselves, they are pretty good. Of course it is simply a song of reminiscing about the past and reporting how the people who played a role in it are doing in present day. The song is kind of like a high school reunion. So sure, a little corny, but still can’t take away from the power of the song. For me, it is the cream of the crop of 2017.

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Another recap of music’s best in the books! Did I make a decent list this year? Let me know. Also, hold on, because I might have more music hot takes later this month. For those who are longtime readers of this blog, you know what I mean. Don’t Blink.

Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2016
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2015
Brent’s Top 5 Best Songs of 2012

Thinking About a Centenarian

Four years ago on this date, I met a special centenarian. At the time, Emma Lommasson was a 102-year-old sassy woman with her wit and intellect fully intact. She is still the oldest person I have ever met.

This is me with Emma Lommasson in December of 2013.

Now, I can sense you squirming in your seat because you are anticipating this blog post to take a predictable sad turn. Hold your horses.

When the memory of our visit in 2013 was brought to my attention, I did some internet research. I know that Emma was still alive in March of 2017. However, I could find nothing to confirm or deny that she is still presently enjoying the sweet offerings of this world as I write this. If any of my Montana friends know about Emma, I would greatly appreciate an update.

Over two years ago, I wrote a blog post about living to 100 and beyond. I was a little wishy-washy with giving my opinion, but I ultimately declared that I would like to live to see 100. There is a portion of people in or society who when asked about reaching the century mark they will respond with “I would never want to live that long.”

Since I wrote about this subject in August of 2015, I have read more and more about folks who live to be 100. I have also read with interest about a subgroup within the century club, the so-called “supercentenarians” who live past 110 years old. From the literature, I have found out that these people live comfortable and healthy lives up until the day they die. Hence, they don’t fight long bouts of illness or suffer through a couple of tough years before expiring. Rather, they just peacefully succumb to natural causes after living for a really long time.

I can now say with certainty that, if it was God’s plan, I would like to live to be 100. I think the part of living in pain is what scares most people about living for so long, but according to these centenarians, it really isn’t an issue. I know being alone is another fear people think about when being blessed with longevity; I guess all I can say to that is have a lot of kids who have a lot of grandchildren.

I plan to continue to feed my interest when it comes to learning about people who live to be 100 and beyond. If Emma is still around, I sure hope she is doing great. Don’t Blink.

Best Practices For Navigating the Holiday Party Circuit

It is now December and that means it is holiday party season! I kicked off the month with a neighborhood Christmas block party on Saturday night and this afternoon we had our holiday luncheon for our University Communication department at CCU. Now by no means is my calendar chock-full of holiday party after holiday party…I am not that popular. However, Sidney and I do have enough Yuletide functions on our calendar to keep us busy throughout the holiday season.

For tonight’s blog post, I wanted to offer up ten best practices (in no particular order) for the holiday party circuit.

Sidney and I have some tips to make the most out of the 2017 Christmas party season.

1. Be Joyful – It is the most wonderful time of the year! For those who go to Christmas parties ready to laugh and toss back some cups of egg nog, you got this tip down. But if you had a bad day, put your Scrooge attitude in check and make sure your face lights up like a Christmas tree. The best way to snap out of a sour mood is to enjoy some holiday cheer.

2. Ice Breaker – The best way to greet someone at a holiday party? Look them straight in the eye and exclaim “Merry Christmas!” Make sure it comes straight from the heart and that you have a twinkle in your eye when you say it. I have found this greeting, when said sincerely, will immediately gain the trust and admiration of the person you are talking to.

3. Break Out the Santa Suit – Now I wouldn’t do this for formal Christmas parties, but if it is a gathering of friends or a holiday cocktail hour with co-workers, be that guy who busts out the Santa suit! When you randomly shows up in St. Nick garb, it makes people smile and it also makes you a photo magnet. Even better, it allows you to play a character and perhaps act a little goofier than if you showed up in street clothes.

Busting out the Santa suit is fun.

4. Advice on White Elephant Exchanges – Pack an envelope with scratch-offs! No, seriously. Each time Sidney and I bring lotto tickets to a white elephant/Chinese gift exchange, our gift always gets stolen the maximum amount of times. People can’t resist the thought of possibly striking it rich on Christmas. Trust us and do it at least once this season.

5. Be Fun At Your Spouse’s Work Party – One of the best holiday social functions of the season for me is my wife’s Christmas party for her school. All of her teachers get together either at a bar or bowling alley for some good wholesome fun. I do my best to put myself out there and get to know my wife’s co-workers. Show the people at your spouse’s work party that she isn’t married to some dud.

6. Be Responsible – This one goes without saying but I will put it out there just in case. Many of the Christmas parties you go to will have holiday num nums available for your enjoyment. Be smart and know your limit. The last thing you want to do is become a drunken fool at a winter celebration. Over indulging will not only put you on Santa’s naughty list but it will make you a danger when you hit the roads to go home.

7. Prioritize – Some of us (not me) have what seems like an engagement every night during the month. Others of us have less hectic schedules but might be invited to a couple different holiday functions on the same weekend night. Don’t feel bad about sitting at home in front of the fireplace for some of these. Remember, this special season isn’t all about hitting up party after party. Go to the ones you are looking more forward to and actually have time for. There is no shame skipping a holiday function to either reflect on the joyful birth of Christ or to simply take a breather.

8. Music – If you want the perfect soundtrack for your holiday party, go for the “Fireplace Christmas Mix.” Either type it into YouTube or dial it up on your Apple TV. This selection will deliver instrumentals of classic Christmas songs and will instantly make your heart feel warm.

9. For Those Who Want to Steal the Show… – If you want to bring a dish to a holiday potluck that will have people coming back for more, go with an addicting snack called Christmas Reindeer Crack. After seeing it last year online, I decided to make it. Even for someone like me who is an absolute disaster in the kitchen, the snack turned out incredible. What is Christmas Reindeer Crack, you ask? Well, it is a mixture of M&M’s, peanuts, pretzels, and Fritos coated in white chocolate. But if you want a better description, click here for my blog post from last year.

I made Christmas Reindeer Crack last year and it was beyond delicious.

10. Dress Code – If you aren’t going as Santa (see tip #3), have a general idea on the type of dress that will be worn by most at the party. As I am not a big fan of “ugly holiday sweaters,” I tend to dress in Christmas colors depending on the type of function it is. If it is a more formal event, I will sport a red tie. If it is casual, I might slip on a red or green (or maybe a red and green) thermal. Never deny the power of props! Some reindeer antlers can go a long way.

If you are attending a more formal holiday gathering, wear a red tie.

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In closing, let me end with alluding to what I addressed with tip #7. Enjoy the opportunities to socialize and eat good food this holiday season and use the above to help you maximize the fun. But please remember what Christmas is all about. Just in the same way that we can get all wrapped up in buying presents and accumulating material possessions, we can do the same with focusing on holiday parties. Have a good time but set a limit. Don’t Blink.

The Special Ornaments on Our Tree, Part II

Last year, almost to the date, I wrote about my five favorite ornaments on our Christmas tree. With another holiday season now underway at the Reser household, I decided what better way to truly embrace this special time of year than to write a similar blog post?

On this Sunday, I would like to present The Special Ornaments on Our Tree, Part II. With one exception, this list features different decorations from last year. Seasons Greetings and enjoy!

5. Star Topper – Last year, we simply did not have something, such as a star or angel, gracing the top of our tree. Well, Santa called us last week and told us that if we don’t finish off our tree the right way, he might consider passing our house on Christmas Eve. My mother-in-law, not wanting Sloan to miss out on a home visit from Santa, got us this gold and glittery star. It is the perfect addition to this year’s tree.

This is the star that now sits atop our tree.

4. Our Initials – I had no idea that people put letters on their Christmas trees until I met Sidney. She explained that it is custom to put the first letter of the names of the people living in the household on the tree. Thus, we now have two “S’s” and one “B” hanging on our tree. We got these ornaments when we visited a Charlotte mall last year.

The initials of our family helps to decorate our tree.

3. We Are Expecting Snow People Family – Yes, I know, I know, this ornament made last year’s list. However, if you remember (or if you just want to click here), a portion of this ornament was blocked out in the blog post. Because we didn’t reveal the name of our daughter until after she was born, we obviously didn’t reveal it in Don’t Blink. With Sloan now happily part of our family, I can take away the Photoshop and show the ornament in its full glory! This will forever be an extremely special part of our tree.

I can now reveal our “We Are Expecting” ornament in its full glory.

2. Mexican Ornament – This ornament comes from the land of Mexico. We bought it at a bustling flea market in downtown Cancun during our honeymoon. However, last year we couldn’t find it to put on our tree. We had packed it away and simply forgot where we stored it. Well, it resurfaced earlier this year and we now have some international flavor on our tree. More than just the foreign land appeal, it is a symbol of a very special and fun time that Sidney and I shared.

We brought back this ornament from our honeymoon in Cancun.

1. Sloan decoration – No doubt about it, this is the cutest and most special ornament on our tree. Sidney took one of the images from Sloan’s photoshoot last month and made it into a Christmas ornament. It hangs not too far from the ornament of toddler Sidney that made last year’s list. It warms our hearts to see our little girl grinning at us through the pine needles and lights. Thank you, Sidney, for making this.

Nothing is sweeter than seeing this sweet girl smile at us from our tree.

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Although we already have more tree decorations than we could possibly need from Target, my hope is that each year we can continue adding one or two sentimental ornaments. Thanks for taking a tour of our little tree and I hope the decorations that hang on yours bring plenty of joy and memories. Don’t Blink.