Images: Instagram/joannagaines / Instagram/joannagaines

While Chip and Joanna Gaines flip houses for a living, their greatest achievement in life is their beautiful family. So after welcoming their fifth child, Crew, in the summer of 2018, the couple decided to celebrate the following Christmas in style – and it was undeniably special.

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Chip and Joanna are best known as the hosts of home renovation show Fixer Upper. The series aired between 2013 and 2018, but the relationship between the couple goes way back. And it all began in the unlikely setting of an auto-repair business.

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Back then, the store was owned by Joanna’s father, and Chip was regular customer of his. One day, Chip noticed Joanna in a family photo in the workshop. And according to him, it was love at first sight. He didn’t even need to see her in person to know that she was the one.

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In a tell-all interview with PopSugar in June 2018, Chip explained, “Her dad made the mistake of putting a pic of the family behind the counter at his [automotive] shop. I knew I’d marry her one day just by the picture on the wall.”

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Soon, fate brought the pair together. Chip had brought his vehicle into the repair shop to fix the brakes. Much to his delight, Joanna was helping her dad out at work that day, and the pair hit it off. “He was genuinely engaging, and he had such a sincere smile,” Joanna recalled.

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But despite her initial attraction, Joanna was initially a little wary about Chip. “At first, I couldn’t believe how kind Chip was. He had kind eyes, and made me laugh a lot,” she added. And eventually she fell for him. “I knew he was the one because I knew I could trust him,” Joanna explained.

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Prior to marrying Chip, Joanna had worked in the food industry. “I still have an appreciation for buffet lines,” she joked. However, after she and Chip tied the knot in 2003, her career took a completely different turn.

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It’s safe to say that the home the couple had after their wedding was in need of some improvements. And while Chip had already renovated a house during his college days, Joanna was a complete virgin when it came to real estate.

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Describing the process, Joanna said, “We started renovations on it immediately after we came home from our honeymoon. All I could remember is the smell. The house was bad. Chip did all the construction, and I remember many nights he was on his hands and knees staining floors or laying tile.”

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And while Chip did the manual labor, Joanna took the opportunity to channel her creativity. “I was experimenting with my design style at the time and every room had a different theme,” she explained. “It was all very interesting, to say the least.”

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Clearly though, the experience made an impression on Joanna. “Once I caught on to the concept of buying something that is undervalued to then put value into it and sell it for a profit, I was hooked,” she later admitted to HGTV.

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And soon enough, Joanna landed on her very own aesthetic. And it’s this “farmhouse-chic” vibe that she decided to sell to the public through her Waco, Texas, interior design company Magnolia Market. Later, she recruited her husband Chip’s construction skills to create Magnolia Realty and Magnolia Homes.

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After a while, Chip and Joanna’s talents caught the attention of the folks at HGTV. The channel snapped up the pair in 2013 to front new series Fixer Upper. The show sees Chip and Joanna help a couple to buy and renovate a home with a total budget of $200,000.

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The series proved popular, and in 2017 it got its own spin-off show called Fixer Upper: Behind the Design. On these half-hour programs, Joanna explains how she created the various looks for the homes in the main show. And it seemed that people couldn’t get enough of her vision.

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Thanks to Fixer Upper, in fact, Joanna’s signature “farmhouse-chic” style apparently became a leading interior design trend. Many of the features favored on the show, such as clawfoot bathtubs, wainscoting and barn doors, could lead to a significant increase in a property’s value according to real estate company Zillow.

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And that wasn’t the only legacy Chip and Joanna created with Fixer Upper. The series also reportedly led to a rise in investment in Waco, where the couple are located. What’s more, fans flocked to the city as well, which boosted its tourism industry.

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Moreover, in 2018 Joanna collaborated with Target on her own lifestyle brand. Called Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, the range includes 300 items of homeware ranging from bedding and lamps to kitchenware. Joanna and Chip hoped that the collection would help to bring their vision to families across America, without the couple having to leave their beloved family farm.

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It seemed that despite all their success, family meant to the most to the couple. For instance, Joanna would leave Chip cute messages in his luggage whenever he went away. “I have a pile of them from over the years,” he revealed.

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Furthermore, whenever the couple enjoyed date nights, they made sure renovation chat was off the agenda. “We really enjoy the problem solving, but there comes a point when we need to focus on us. We have the weekly date nights where we try our hardest not to talk business,” Joanna explained.

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It seemed the efforts to keep their relationship fresh had paid off, and by 2018 the pair were already the proud parents of four children. What’s more, Chip and Joanna were preparing to welcome their fifth baby later that year.

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With their brood expanding even further, Chip and Joanna decided to quit Fixer Upper in order to make more time for their children. That meant the series of the show that aired in 2018 would be the couple’s last.

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Up until that point, the Gaines kids – Drake, Ella, Duke and Emmie Kay – had been regular faces on the Fixer Upper set. “We enjoy work as a family, we enjoy work as a couple,” Chip told House Beautiful in 2016.

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But prior to quitting Fixer Upper, Chip had vowed that his family would always be a bigger priority than the show. “We are thankful for our success,” he told People in 2016. “But if it ever compromised our ability to be a healthy married couple or our kids started to get a little bit off track, we would quit this thing in a heartbeat.”

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So in April 2018 Chip and Joanna bid a “bittersweet” farewell to Fixer Upper. And a few months later in June 2018, the couple welcomed their fifth child – a boy named Crew. Chip announced his arrival on Twitter, writing that “the Gaines crew is now one stronger.”

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Following Crew’s birth, proud mom Joanna took to Instagram to document the baby’s formative months. And the designer’s posting ramped up towards the end 2018, as the festive period approached. This is clearly one of her favorite times of year.

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It was to be Crew’s first Christmas, and the Gaines gang planned to celebrate just as they always did – in style. For Joanna, that meant decorating the house soon after Halloween. So early, in fact, that she claimed in a piece written for The Magnolia Journal that they are “faithful first customers” at their “local Christmas tree farm.”

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Not one to do things by halves, Joanna picked out a stunning 13-foot Christmas tree that took pride of place in the family’s kitchen. The designer wondered if she would need a bigger ladder to decorate the fir, but subsequent Instagram posts proved she’d done a stellar job.

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Before Crew’s arrival, the Gaines family had previously displayed a second tree in their “den.” But since that room had become the new nursery, Joanna moved the fir to the master bedroom

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In her piece for The Magnolia Journal, Joanna confessed, “I start anticipating this day long before November even thinks about arriving.” Part of the family’s ritual is decking the tree with old ornaments and decorations.

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“It could be the memory of evenings spent making candy with my girls and remembering how our hands carry the scent of peppermint and cinnamon for days after,” Joanna wrote. “Or I see Chip and me fireside with all the kids snuggled in around us, gazing at the lights till our eyes are too heavy to keep open.”

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“I replay these moments in my mind not because I long for peppermint bark or cold weather (though I really do love both), but because these moments somehow define who we are as a family,” Joanna continued. “Even in their simplicity, there is something profound about how much they impact me long after the actual moment has passed.”

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Given that they are the parents of five little ones, a visit to Santa is usually on the cards at Christmas time. And now that Crew was around, things were no different. The infant met the big man for the first time at his mom and dad’s store, in fact, and the cute moment was captured on camera.

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Joanna subsequently shared the special picture with her 9.6 million followers on Instagram. In it, little Crew looks contented in a knitted hat as a smiling Santa holds him on his lap. The accompanying caption by Joanna gushed, “All my dreams have come true.”

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Other sweet snapshots Joanna shared over the holiday period included one of Crew indulging in a pretend game of cards with a menagerie of soft toys. The cute scene was apparently set up by Chip and Joanna’s older daughter Ella. And the sweet image went down a storm on Instagram.

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Joanna returned to the picture-sharing site on December 25 to wish her followers a “merry Christmas.” However, she made a more reflective post on New Year’s Day, when she wrote about her family’s past and future, as well as the passing of time.

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Commenting on her growing family, Joanna observed, “Crew is already six months old and saying ‘mama’ (I had to throw that in there, sorry Chip). Drake will be driving in two years and off to college in four. And just like that I have found myself mourning the past but now in future tense.”

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“This whole time thing can feel like a thief if you let it,” Joanna continued. “I’m challenging myself in this new year to live for now. The present. Taking in every breath, every sight, and sound and holding it dearly. Not thinking about how the good ol’ days have passed us by or how the best is yet to come.”

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Concluding her post, Joanna added, “But time, time is our most precious gift. Here’s to seeing and finding the beauty, the hope and joy in the right now in 2019. And for goodness sake, let’s have some fun while we’re at it!”

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So, all in all, the 2018 holidays were a special time for the Gaines family. “This is our first Christmas with baby Crew, and we get to experience our family traditions through his delighted smiles, with his bright eyes serving as sort of a mirror,” Joanna wrote in The Magnolia Journal.

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Joanna added that she wanted the family’s traditions to set a good example for her new son. “I hope he’ll see that we’re not looking for new and improved,” she wrote. “But rather that we’re taking the best parts of every Christmas past and unpacking them for Christmas present.”

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