Not Perfect Makes For Happy Holidays

// This post is sponsored by CBS Films.  As always the opinions, naughty children, and stories are all mine.  Thank you for being kind to Petit Elefant sponsors. //

Congrats to Number 23, Rachel! Please contact us right away, Rachel, and enjoy your trip to see family this holiday season! 

I’m a recovering perfectionist.  Which is to say, I strive for happy perfection always but at least now I recognize the fault in it, and the impossibility of actual, true perfection.  In fact, I’d say I’m doing a pretty good job letting go and letting things happen naturally these days.  It doesn’t mean I don’t still want things to be ‘picture perfect’, but the older I get the more I realize how genuinely mistaken it is to try and make things ‘just right’ when ‘getting it done’ is almost always better.


holiday movie

The holidays bring out the O.C.D. in people like me, people who’d like family functions to have a closely followed itinerary and no snags in the plan.  But the more family holidays I enjoy, the more I realize just how great imperfect plans are, and how much more joy they allow for than a ‘canned’ experience.

A couple of years ago our little family packed up and spent Christmas with a friend in Spokane, Washington instead of our usual routine at home.  We took a handful of gifts and our individual empty stockings and not much else; we just ‘winged’ it.  Can you imagine just ‘winging’ the holidays?  I couldn’t.  Most days any Christmas break for our little family are usually outlined with specific traditions and holiday photo opps to make good, strong, happy family memories.  And I threw it all out the window so we could hang out with an old college friend who wasn’t going home for the holidays.


family christmas

You probably know the ending to this story: the unplanned moments and family time outside a plan were far better than anything I could’ve planned.  We stopped at a great, totally unexpected hotel halfway through the drive from Utah to Washington and made funny family memories at weird gas stations and rest stops along the road trip. We went ice skating in Spokane on a frozen lake at sunset.  We drove through the town and sang along to the radio with hot chocolate in our hands.  We watched movies in the middle of the day and taught each other how to knit at night.  We ate great food and visited small local bookstores and gave each other small but meaningful gifts.  And the best part of it all really was that we were all together doing basic, stuff.  Together.  It was one of our more favorite Christmas holidays, throwing out all the expectations and having fun off the books.

We need to do it more often.


holidays with family

I’m excited to see the new holiday movie opening this weekend, Love The Coopers, which is about a normal, crazy family like mine who figure out just what I did over Christmas a few years ago:  being together is the whole happy point of it all, no matter what else happens.  And to celebrate Love The Coopers

I’m giving away a $150 gas gift card to help you get home for the holidays!

What.  WHAT?  I’m serious.  If you need a little extra scratch to get home to your family, I’ve got your back!

Enter the Love The Coopers Gas Gift Card Giveaway:

  1. Leave a comment telling me where you’re heading for the holidays.
  2. One entry per household, enter now through Monday November 16th.
  3. Make sure to leave an email address so we can contact the winner.
  4. GOOD LUCK!  And Happy Holidays.


//  Love The Coopers Trailer + Website. //  Love The Coopers on Facebook. //  Follow @LoveTheCoopers on Twitter.  // Movie opens Friday November 13th.  //


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Hello there! I'm Allison Czarnecki, founder + editor of Petit Elefant, a blog all about style on a budget for every part of your life: style / home / travel / family. I do a lot of how-to beauty + style tutorials, travel posts, easy recipes, home remodel projects, and cool DIY crafts you totally want to try. I'm super happily married (to a hot Polish immigrant) and am the mother of two kids, a daughter and son, all of whom are featured here on the regular. We live in the country but we're a little bit rock + roll. Welcome!


  1. SS :

    I’m headed over the river and through the woods to spend Christmas with family in Vermont

  2. Cami :

    I’m visiting by brother’s family in Minnesota. They have a brand new baby that I’ll get to snuggle which makes it worth braving the super cold winter there!

  3. April :

    Our house, grandma’s house, sister’s house….it’s a round robin affair around here…thankfully all local!

  4. Payal :

    Grandma’s house this year since we moved closer!

    • Payal :

      Thanks for this post – great reminder to just go with the flow & thanks for the giveaway.

  5. Sher :

    I’m in Arizona but will travel to Connecticut to be with my two grandchildren and their mom and dad. Maybe it will snow so we can build a snowman, make snow angels and toss a few snowballs before going inside for hot cocoa with marshmallows.

  6. Kerri :

    I’m heading from St. Louis, Missouri to the eastern shore of Virginia to visit my crazy family. We’re doing something different this year with gift giving- we decided to only give handmade or second hand items to each other. I’m super excited to make special gifts for each one of my family members!

  7. Jamie :

    We are home for these holidays, but my best friend just sold her condo and is heading to SC so I’ll be heading there soon enough!!

  8. HS :

    We are planning a trip to Seattle for holidays.

  9. Sara :

    We’re headed to Palm Springs for Thanksgiving. Hoping to start some new family traditions and have some R&R together without the stress.

  10. Crystal :

    We’re headed to Los Angeles to see my brother, then from there, Phoenix to visit my aunt and cousins for Christmas!

  11. Lisa Brown :

    I am not heading anywhere, family members are not traveling this year nor myself, staying home to enjoy the day.
    jslbrown2009 at aol dot com

  12. Lauren :

    Staying home in Seattle with a fire and a cup of tea.

  13. Robyn Edmunds Popham :

    We always stay home for Christmas. But others are always welcome to come visit us.

  14. Shelli :

    This is so awesome!! We are planning to drive from AZ to WA to surprise my parents. We haven’t been there in about 6 years, and have spent a Christmas there in 16 years! (Usually we spend Christmas at home)This Christmas is going to be all about family and being together…memories; not so much about gifts. So excited to be there with them, my brother, and my family.

  15. Sheila Walton :

    We’ll be home hosting 4 of our five children, spouses, and 14 of our grandchildren. We may spend some time at the family cabin.

  16. Linda N. :

    I am going to visit my sister and her family and am very excited since I haven’t seen them in a few months. They live about an hour and a half away.

  17. Janice :

    I am actually staying home and having family come to me this year for the first time in a few years which I’m really happy about.

  18. Jennifer galan :

    I’m still trying to figure out how and when to get my husband home from korea for Christmas. Army will send him to seattle, but can’t confirm dates. Then i gotta get him back here to utah.

  19. Britta :

    Headed to Colorado next week to visit my brother-in-law’s family for Thanksgiving! Gas money would be such a treat!

  20. Erin :

    Thankfully our family is all close so we don’t have to travel too far but we are doing a mini thanksgiving this weekend about 4 hours away to see my bil and sil. Traveling with kids is never dull ;)

  21. Jill S. :

    Heading to Idaho. Not too far, but still takes 2 tanks of gas!

  22. Rachel :

    We try and stick close to home as much as possible but will be traveling an hour north for dinner on Christmas night! If I win the gas card I’ll give it to the new driver in our family.

    • Kimberly :

      Congrats, Rachel! you are our winner! Please send us an email ASAP to kimberly {at] petitelefant {dot} com to claim your awesome gift card!

  23. Natalie :

    AZ is home! I’d love to surprise my family! It’s been at least 7 years since we were all together for Christmas because of siblings on church missions!

  24. Karen Ferrarz :

    Family is traveling to our home this holiday season. We will have visitors from Japan, St George & Arizonia coming to enjoy family time! It will be nice to all be together. The gas card will be a great addition in driving us to and from various local holiday events.

  25. Stacia :

    Headed to UT for sister-in-law’s wedding!

  26. Barb :

    My sister’s 4th baby is in the nicu. They live in Las Vegas and I live in Salt Lake. If I win, i would use the money to fly down and help her!

  27. Jennifer :

    While we don’t have to travel very far we do have to travel to 3 different houses for Thanksgiving and Christmas eve/day. 3 houses each holiday! It’s exhausting but always nice to see family. The gas card would certainly help with the cost!

  28. Denise :

    My first holiday season as a grandma! Woohoo! I’ll be flitting around from house to house to see cute grandbaby faces. The gas card would help bunches.

  29. Darlene B. :

    We’re staying home for the holidays, but I would love to help my niece and her family come here to visit from Idaho. Her Mom (my sister) passed away this summer and I know the holidays are going to be very tender this year.

  30. Katie Rooks :

    I would not be the one traveling, but the gas card would be for my little sister and her daughter so that there may be a chance for them to visit us for Christmas! It has been far to long since we have gotten to spend a Christmas together.

  31. Elizabeth :

    Hooray! We’re headed to Boise :)

  32. Mendy Dinsmore :

    I would be heading to my sister’s place at the lake. Since we lost Mom, holidays are odd feeling. We don’t get together often. I’m making the effort this year. I miss my siblings. Thanks for the giveaway.

  33. Suzanne Bake :

    We might be heading to the in laws;)

  34. Allison :

    We are going to visit my family in California!

  35. Andrea Sullivan :

    We are having our first Christmas in Alaska.

  36. Luda :

    Not even sure yet, that’s how last minute our planning is…….but it always works out!! ❤️

  37. Lilrachy :

    This Christmas I am headed to Seattle possibly, with my boyfriends family (if things continue to work out, fingers crossed, and hoping for the best) and then to Coronado to meet my first nephew and run interference between my mom (a little crazy), and the rest of my family. But that’s what the holidays are all about!

  38. Julie :

    I’ll be driving to visit my parents for a few days for Thanksgiving and for the Christmas holiday I’ll be headed to Texas for a weeklong visit to see family.

  39. Elizabeth W :

    We always get to stay home because all of our family is so close.

  40. Charlotte :

    My mom and I live in Kentucky, while my sister is in Florida. It’s been like this since 2006. We just can’t break the city in her. We’re lucky to see her once a year. We always manage, but it’s never easy. She misses a lot. Her niece is her biggest fan. She’s nine. And we just added a brand new little boy. She drpped, and sacrificed everything to be here for the birth in July. Which meant so much to me I’d love to make it so she could be here for Christmas with her niece and nephew. Mom and I wouldn’t complain either! (Can’t wait to see this movie too)

  41. Jessica :

    My husband and I are staying put for Thanksgiving, but will be driving home to Florida to visit both families (we are high school sweethearts that grew up in the same town). We were hoping to be in our house before Christmas and have everyone come visit us, but that is looking like it is not going to happen. I hope this will be the last time we have to drive to FL at Christmas for a while. :)

  42. Donald Hayes :

    Heading to my mom’s in Louisiana (from the Houston area), and taking my Mother-In-Law with us. They are both by themselves for the holidays, so we want to bring everyone together to celebrate. Thank you for offering this during the holiday season!

  43. Barbara Youngren :

    We’re not traveling this year, but all the kids are coming out here (with their kids) to celebrate with us. This would be a great way to help pay for their gas since all live 1-2 days away from us!

  44. Vicki :

    I’m traveling from NC to KY to see family for one day, and continuing on west for another 2.5 hours to see my too-pregnant-to-travel daughter and her hubby and our two grands…and then a week or two later, I’m making that trip again when she gives birth! ❤

  45. Ashley Ward :

    Going to Kansas City from Denver with 3 kiddos to see grandparents…and of course my hubby is craving his KC BBQ! Thanks for the opportunity, would be such a huge help!!

  46. Juliann :

    Hoping to go to Seattle for Christmas to spend some quality family time with my mom and dad and brother. My little sis and her family will also be driving home and it would be so fun for our kids to be with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents!

  47. Carly :

    We won’y be traveling far but tend to rack up the miles just running errands and going everywhere for the holidays.

  48. Maribel Reyes :

    For the first time in 4 years we will be spending the holidays in Baja Mexico, with all our family. We are truly excited to spend it with our family and make new memories for our kids.

  49. Brittney :

    We’ll be staying home and celebrating Christmas as a family at home, but we’d give the card to my mom so she could go visit one of her kids for Christmas.

  50. Nesha :

    Not sure where exactly. Maybe Northern Utah, maybe Washington. I’m a planner, so the fact there’s no plan is new. Anywhere we can make awesome family memories!

  51. Emily :

    We can’t afford to go anywhere so we will be home. :)

  52. Jhade Peynado :

    I hope I didn’t miss the extended deadline.
    Home is so important to my family this season, we will be heading to NYC..the most beautiful place to be this time of year.
    My mother grandma and I will be driving to support my aun through her first round of treatment for Colon cancer. We make the drive to NY every year..this year has got to be the hardest trip we’ve ever had to plan.

  53. Susan :

    Unfortunately, we won’t be traveling for the holiday break, but could really use the gas card. My husband is a teacher/coach/referee and travels an hour each way to and from work every day. This would be a wonderful surprise for him. Thanks for doing this giveaway!

  54. libby :

    We are heading to Nana’s … it is about a 9 hour drive. Kind of stressful with a 3 year old and a 7 month old! It will be good to spend time with the extended family, though!

  55. Heidi E :

    My family is staying home. We are always excited for what the holidays bring.

  56. brandi gauvin :

    We’ll be traveling to our mom’s for Christmas dinner :D

  57. Melanie Hess :

    Headed down to St. George!

  58. Emily woods :

    Would love to win so we can drive from Washington to Utah so my family can meet my 5 month old baby!

  59. Patricia Glover :

    Heading back to Ohio to see family for Christmas.

  60. Carolyn Adams :

    I live in Florida and I’m driving home to Arkansas to see all my family so I won’t be alone. My hubby is deployed to Afghanistan. Excited to see my mom, sister, brother, daughter, grandkids and nieces and nephews!!!

  61. Emilie pecka :

    We are going to Boise to visit my husband’s aunt and cousin

  62. Carol :

    We’re staying home for Thanksgiving but the gift card would be great for the family that’s traveling in.

  63. Emily Clark :

    After living far away from home for many years I moved back much closer but it is still a drive. Best gas card would help me get home not only for Thanksgiving but also for Christmas time

  64. Lori Van Wagoner :

    Im blessed/cursed to live close to both my in-laws and my parents. Christmas Eve we spend at my in-Laws in sandy and we head to Ogden to my parent’s house on the 26th. It gets busy with so much back and forth, but I’m grateful that I get to see every single member of my immediate family in two days this year.

  65. Tracey Christensen :

    Oops, I just found this generous offer. Likely too late, but I’m hoping to get my Uncle Mark here. He is alone in the middle of nowhere New Mexico. I’d love to get him here for the holidays to enjoy Christmas with his great nieces and nephews.

  66. Stacey D. :

    We will be heading to North Carolina! Driving from NJ. We only get to see me husband’s side of the family once a year and since having our son in 2011 we have made it a tradition to go every year!!

  67. Rynell :

    My parents moved last year. They live in southern Utah now (a few hours from me). We’re going to spend time with them over the holidays. Not to plagerize ee cummings, but it feels like they took part of my heart with them.

  68. Anne Hernandez :

    This year we are staying home in Florida, but I’d LOVE to make it easier for the girls to come down for Christmas.

  69. Bruce :

    We are going to Sweden!!!

  70. girlfromwva :

    staying home for the actual holiday. going to Ohio the week before!

  71. Caroline :

    We’re headed to Western Nebraska for the holidays, then heading back through Eastern Nebraska and Iowa so we can visit both sides of the family for Christmas/New Years It’s always a long trip (especially for those three awesome kids in the back seat of our gas guzzling SUV) but totally worth seeing all of our family for. :)