the best last minute beauty gifts

We are officially 2 weeks away from Christmas and I can hardly contain my excitement!! I also can hardly contain my stress because I have a lot of shopping left to do. I usually tackle it all early and am finished by this point, but this year I seem to be lagging on everything and still have quite a few names to check off. The men are always my challenge- I never know what to get the guys. But the girls? That’s easy! I head to Sephora inside JCPenney to find the newest and best beauty products that any girl will love. Family gift exchange? Secret Santa swap? Hard-to-please SIL? Sephora inside JCPenney has something for everyone. Sharing what I picked up last week for a girlfriend gift below!

My favorite way to give a gift to a girlfriend for Christmas is in a beautiful stocking that she can use, and isn’t much more than a gift sack that would just end up in the trash. I fill the stocking with products that I know she will love and use, all found at Sephora inside JCPenney. I avoid ULTA and department store beauty counters because during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, they’re so picked over and I can never find what I need. I love that Sephora inside JCPenney always has a great selection, and around the holidays they have the cutest sets!

I picked up this Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain Collection for $28 ($84 value) that I’m thinking I’ll have to go back and get for myself. If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know that I love and swear by Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stains. They have such great pigment and last all day without drying out my lips like other liquid lipsticks. This set is a steal and has shades for every season. I also grabbed the Sephora Collection Wish Upon a Star Mini Brush Set that is just $15 and creates the perfect eyeshadow blend. For the last stocking stuffer, I opted for the OUAI Memory Mist because I’ve been using the spray for months and it is a miracle worker. Not only does the Memory Mist hold a hairstyle like no other, but it also acts as a heat protectant. It also smells amazing- I get asked often what perfume I’m wearing and I don’t wear any (since Boone is nursing). It’s the Memory Mist!

All 3 of these products fit perfectly inside a stocking and make for the cutest holiday gift. I always include a lipstick or gloss so I can tie a note on the stocking that says "Mistletoe Survival Kit"- it's always a hit! It was so easy to run inside Sephora inside JCPenney at our local mall because there was no wait and an employee helped me find exactly what I was looking for. Their customer service is unmatched and so are their prices this holiday season. You have to go see for yourself!
Have you tried any of these products? I’d love to hear!
xo, Britt

*This post is sponsored by Sephora inside JCPenney, however all thoughts and opinions are my own. #SephoraInJCP

polar express party+hot chocolate recipe

Last Friday evening, we hosted a Polar Express Party for the kids in our neighborhood. We live in a gated circle drive that has 20 homes, almost all of which have young kids. This has been so much fun for Bear, as they all play outside together everyday and have become such good friends. Bear passed out party invitations (free template found here) to his new friends one day after school a couple weeks ago and he talked about the party nonstop after that. He was so excited to have his friends over and watch the Polar Express (we’ve never seen it!) which didn’t end up happening because the kids were having so much fun playing, they couldn’t be bothered to slow down and actually look at the TV. Guess that means the party was a success?!

For privacy reasons, I left most pictures of the other kids off of this post but I wish you could see their sweet little faces. We had a total of 12 kids and 6 adults in our house that evening and it was pure madness in the best possible way. I didn’t take a lot of photos or go all out on decor because honestly, this wasn’t intended to be a Pinterest-worthy event. I wanted to sit back and enjoy everything, not be running around with a camera in my face the whole time. I think we all have more fun that way and Bear is already planning next year’s party! I might need a few more weeks recovery time before I’m ready for that. ;)

(The wires don’t normally hang down from our TV- we are waiting on the Geek Squad to come do some maintenance. The kids didn’t care!)

Right when the kids showed up, we had two gingerbread house kits that they got busy making. The girls got into it more than the boys and seemed to really enjoy decorating the houses. After that, many cookies were consumed and much playing was had. My favorite part of the party was the hot chocolate- I could drink my weight in this homemade crockpot recipe we’ve been making the last several years. If you want an easy hot chocolate recipe that will feed 12-15 and is rich enough to cause cavities by the cup-full, here it is:

The Best Crockpot Hot Chocolate
Ingredients:
6 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 can sweetened condensed milk (12 oz.)
1 pkg. milk chocolate chips (14 oz.)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Stir all ingredients in crockpot on low heat. Cook on low for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes. Switch setting to warm and serve with marshmallows!

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We feel really lucky to live in a neighborhood where the kids are all around the same age and enjoy one another’s company (most of the time). Even Boonester couldn’t be bothered to sit still and take a photo, he was having so much fun crawling around after the bigger kids. He will be running around with them before we know it!
Now that we still haven’t seen the Polar Express, Bear and I will be watching it over the weekend. Zach told him we could do something special tonight and he chose to go see The Grinch again…so looks like we will be watching lots of Christmas movies over the next few weeks. I’m not upset about it- bring on all the popcorn, hot chocolate, warm blankets, and snuggles!
xo, Britt

our favorite holiday shopping in houston

It hit me hard this morning that Christmas is just two weeks from today and there’s still so much left to do! Maybe it’s having a baby but for some reason, I’m off my game this year. We normally are about done with Christmas shopping by this point but it’s looking pretty sad underneath our tree in the present department. Thankfully Boone and I hit up our favorite spot last week, River Oaks Shopping Center, to mark a lot of names off our list! Now if I can just find a few minutes to wrap, we’ll be in business.


What I love most about buying gifts in River Oaks Shopping Centeris that I can find things unlike anywhere else. It’s not like the typical mall shopping where everything is cookie-cutter and you pick up a scarf that everyone has seen on 84 different people. No, River Oaks Shopping Center is where you go when you want gifts that feel personal, special, and meaningful. Where the shop owners take pride in their crafts and take the time to gift wrap your presents in unique, beautiful holiday paper. Where you’ll find something for everyone on your list, from fine chocolates for the sweet tooth to trendy dog collars for the pet parent. River Oaks Shopping Center truly has it all, while still giving you an enjoyable and laid-back shopping experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Boone and I pulled up to the Center last Thursday around 11am and parked without a problem- no meters, no parking garages, just easy peasy (free) pull-up-and-park. I whipped out his new umbrella stroller and we spotted Cacao & Cardamom Premium Chocolates, which we’ve never been in, so naturally we had to see what the hype is all about. Located right next to the historic theatre, I’ve never seen a more beautiful selection of chocolates that looked almost too pretty to eat. Note: almost. The chocolate fountain alone lured me into the shop and once I was inside, found the perfect treats for several ladies on our list.

After sitting outside to enjoy the cool weather (and some Starbucks), we walked down to the newest pop-up in River Oaks Shopping Center, Burd & Burdies. I actually know the owner from her well-known local earring line, Burd Life, and was so excited to hear that she has a pop-up in ROSC. SO MANY GORGEOUS THINGS! I wanted to buy the entire store, not just as gifts but also for myself. Every item is unique and one-of-a-kind; Natasha’s Mom even makes beautiful pashmina scarves that hang along one wall. Be sure and stop by soon because Burd & Burdies’ last day in River Oaks Shopping Center is December 31st. If you have any hard-to-shop-for ladies on your Christmas list, you can definitely find something they’ll love here!

I hadn’t been in Talbots in months and have been on the hunt for some comfortable winter flats, so we popped over to see their shoe selection. They have so many gorgeous shoes and handbags right now, I knew I was supposed to be buying gifts but had to treat myself, too. They had the cutest plaid puffer vests that I picked up for my Mom, and are still running a 30% OFF storewide sale that is hard to beat!  The stores in River Oaks Shopping Center are all so stroller & baby friendly- it’s a nice change of pace from other shopping areas where it’s hard to navigate a stroller. Talbots has these big comfy houndstooth chairs that make a nice rest stop for weary shoppers, young and old.

On the way out of Talbots, I couldn’t get over how festive their window display is for the holidays and had to snap a few pictures. I love the details of the letters to Santa that I’m covering in these photos- I wish Bear had been with us because he would’ve LOVED it. The shops and restaurants in River Oaks Shopping Center always go out of their way to make things special, especially around the holidays, not just for adults but also for children. While Boone looks serious in these pictures, he didn’t cry once and enjoyed the outing, too!

I plan to make one last run to River Oaks Shopping Center next week for last minute gifts- I didn’t have time to run in a few of my favorite stores like Chico’s or Vikari. I also want to get my nails and hair done before holiday parties we have coming up and y’all know I love me some Full Blown Dry Bar and Nailtique!

Are you almost done with your holiday shopping? Just getting started? There’s still plenty of time to get it done but shipping gets risky at this point so I prefer hitting the stores myself over online shopping. Plus, nothing gets you in the holiday spirit quite like beautifully festive windows, holiday music playing in the background, and the chilly temps we’re finally having in Houston. It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year and I love it!
xo, Britt

*This post is sponsored by River Oaks Shopping Center, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.