For Kristen Kwasniewski, moving from Chicago, Illinois, to Aberdeen, South Dakota, was an easy choice to be with her fiancé, Eric Myers, and his two children Ryleigh and Mason. The couple met at a concert in Iowa in 2016 and got engaged a year later. Kristen made the move from the Windy City to the Hub City at the beginning of 2018.
Rather than search for a new house together, Kristen moved into Eric’s home next to the Rolling Hills Golf Course. “We decided not to look anywhere else because of the wonderful community we live in already,” said Eric. He bought the condominium in January 2016 as a private sale. At the time, he was looking for a house in a neighborhood he and his kids could grill out and watch golfers on the ninth hole, while also having plenty of space to entertain. Since Kristen has moved in, the family has worked together to make the home theirs by renovating it themselves and creating tons of memories.
Kristen, the general manager of Mavericks and the DEC, and Eric, vice president of franchise sales and development at My Place Hotels, enjoy the holidays and spending time with their blended family and friends. One of the highlights of their holiday season is decorating their home together. “It’s quite the event,” said Kristen. The couple uses five Christmas trees throughout their home, the biggest standing at 12 feet tall. Countless strings of lights, baubles, Kristen’s impressive Nutcracker collection, and tons of personal Christmas memories tied to each item fill each themed room throughout their home.
Decorating is important for Kristen and Eric, but organization is key to ensuring everything goes smoothly for the couple when keeping track of everything for Christmas. To tackle all their decorating, they first pull out all the boxes from storage and place them in each specific room. “The first place to be decorated is the family room,” said Kristen. This is the home of the 12-foot Christmas tree, and it’s Eric’s job to put the remarkable tree up. Kristen then starts bringing out all the décor and arranging it around the room. As a family, they work together to decorate the tree. Each room has a particular theme, with the family room inspired by traditional Christmas. The 12-foot Christmas tree was Kristen’s first tree she bought in Chicago, and over the years, she has bought ornaments to make it a showstopper at family get-togethers during the holidays.
Throughout the rest of the year, Kristen has utilized an organization system to keep all her decorations tidy, and she learned the handy trick from her mom, Joneen. “Use color-coded plastic bins and label them! I use red and green bins for Christmas, brown for Thanksgiving, blue for the Fourth of July, black and orange for Halloween, and clear bins with pink lids for Easter. It’s fool-proof,” Kristen said. // – Karlie Spiry and photos by Troy McQuillen