It’s unbelievable to think that our family’s annual mountain Thanksgiving trip to the tree farm is in the past.

Where has the fall flown?

With Thanksgiving falling one week later, it’s a little overwhelming to think of all that needs to get done in just a few weeks. Since we host a large Christmas Eve gathering for around 40 people, there are always lots of preparations that go into making that evening special and this year I’m in some trouble with that.

I will not be ready. Yes, I just admitted that out loud, many weeks in advance, but sometimes unexpected things fall when you least expect it.

Our tree is not up, nor will it be for over a week. Boxes of junk from our attic are lined every where while I do some decluttering and yes, it’s a bit overwhelming, but I’m reassuring myself in the midst of the chaos, it’s all good.

I’m learning to release some unnecessary expectations, and ultimately, understanding that how the house presents itself on Christmas Eve is not what matters. Our evening will be perfect filled with the people we love.

OH MY! Comfort Food at its finest! Twice Baked Double Stuffed Potatoes

A few years ago, I made a radical change up of our traditional Christmas Eve meal. From a full ham, turkey, and mashed potato dinner, I switched to a Twice Baked Potato , Homemade French Bread (that whips up in minutes with a mixer) and Soup/Chili Bar for our main dishes.

It’s been SO freeing because all the guests tends to arrive at varying times and I no longer have to be frustrated over cold food. The soups and potatoes can be made in advance and they can simmer all day long.

Hosting this evening is a highlight of our year. It’s such a special time of extended family, and each year always brings some surprise guests.

With so many people, we sprinkle throughout the rooms. Some relax in the dining room where I set a more fancy table scape, while the kids home from college always bring their plates right to the sofa and catch up on all the festivities they’ve been missing. The younger kids sit at the kitchen table where my $5 candy cane theme might be resurrected, but the one melody that reaches throughout the entire home is that of love and laughter.

It’s my desire to create a “welcome home” mentality where every person is comforted, where stresses of the day are washed away, and where guests yearn to pull up a seat and stay.

With that goal in mind, I prepare for the holidays. I remember that It’s the simple pleasures that people love. If we go full steam ahead for weeks on end, we don’t allow ourselves any margin to truly enjoy all that this gathering time has to offer.

With that decision a few years ago, came a commitment to a more simplistic Christmas season in general.

We decided to scale back on presents, I don’t want the last minute stress or budget breaker, so I am buying the majority on line right now, but even those will be minimal. We choose carefully with our holiday obligations and we make sure that we take time for the important family traditions that we love so much.

By the week of Christmas, I am down to just some of the main checklist items.

In our home, 2014 is going to be the year of home improvements.
It’s been very long in coming. As I mentioned in my big “the Porch that Took 17 years to Build” reveal, that project marked our very first home improvement since we built it years ago.

The next project on my “to do” list is to replace our old, tacky flooring and with that is my plans to update our sofa. I’ve mentioned no presents this year. I just want to slowly fix up some of our well loved items. That sofa has seen us through many eras of children, but since we are well past that toddler age, I’m ready for a grown up sofa and I really started getting inspired as I settled in at the Havertys show room.

I’m the worst at making decisions, so I thought browsing the sofa section at Havetys online would help my design inspiration. It took me an hour just to pick one to highlight in here. There are so many wonderful choices and having browsed personally in their store a few months ago, I know the eye candy that exists. (Check here to locate a store near you.)

Honestly, my designs preferences lean towards an eclectic style of re-purposing and reusing, mixed with my desire to invest in a few quality pieces that will last. I love finding wooden pieces at yard sales that I can paint, but the one thing I will invest in for our living room is a beautiful and comfortable sofa.

If chosen well, it ties an entire room together and will last a long time. I want a classic, yet comfy sofa. As much as I’d love white and then accessories with pops of color in the form of pillows, that might be a disaster with our kids, but it’s tempting. For now, I’m leaning towards a soft gray like in the Jessica line. I’ve been keeping track of some of my favorite design inspiration for our living room over at my Pinterest board.

Here’s just a sneak peek.

The thought of so many people sitting and sharing life on that sofa brings such joy.

New memories will be made and it almost symbolizes our life transition. Oh, I just can’t wait!

Holidays, family, blessings and new decor inspiration!

It doesn’t get much better than that.

What are you doing now to prepare for the holidays? Are you getting ready?

Whether you are looking for the perfect couch or an accent piece to tie the whole room together, Havertys has everything you need to prepare your home for guests this holiday season!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Havertys. The opinions and text are all mine.