Mike and Margie Gaudet celebrate what she calls their "so not hip" Christmas family-style with traditions that never change.
"Our children and grandchildren want Christmas all the same all the time," she said. "We can't veer from what we always do or they will freak out."
The event of the season, which gathers their three children, two spouses and four grandchildren, is a cookie party the family has hosted for at least 30 years.
It started with their daughter, Amy, and a group of her friends.
"The first party ended up with a flour fight," Margie Gaudet recalled with a laugh.
The cookie party is more organized now with Margie Gaudet making the homemade cookies. The children play in the yard, and Santa always comes.
Since the birth of the Gaudets' oldest grandchild, Pace Rabalais, 8, the cookie party has been celebrated on his birthday, Dec. 21. He's the son of Mike and Amy Gaudet Rabalais, an ENT physician, who also have a daughter, Marjorie Rabalais, 6, named for her grandmother.
When it comes to decorating, the Gaudets' home is filled with several small Christmas trees in pots and one large tree in the den. Everything is red and white, including the presents wrapped and put under the big tree, which this year is filled with gingerbread ornaments made by Margie Gaudet and her friend and former neighbor Leigh Ann Cabaniss.
When the Gaudets' son, John Gaudet, a fifth-year student at the Yale School of Medicine, comes home for the holidays, the Gaudet children and grandchildren will all add their special family ornaments to the main tree. Daughter Sara Gaudet MacDowell, a physical therapist, and her husband, Adam, have the youngest Gaudet grandchild, Simon, 18 months, and daughter, Madeline, 4.
In the entrance hall are two of the family's most cherished Christmas possessions, a Nativity scene that belonged to Margie Gaudet's mother, Martha Abraham John, and the remains of one made with peanut-shaped figures when Amy Rabalais was in the second grade at St. Luke's Episcopal School.
"Sara made some of the other figures of modeling clay, but her lambs look more like sloths," Margie Gaudet said with a laugh. "We call it the sloth scene."
Serving as a backdrop are family baby cups, tiny Christmas trees and angels holding candles that spell out "Noel."
Even though both scenes show a little wear and tear, Margie Gaudet wouldn't dare replace either one.
"The cow doesn't even stand up in my mother's Nativity scene, but it's so sweet," she said.
The dining room is the most formally decorated room in the house with a tinsel tree filled with ornaments that belonged to Margie Gaudet's mother. Small trees in the center of the dining table are surrounded by peppermints, red and white, of course, and Christmas balls hang from the chandelier.
The kitchen, filled with the aroma of Christmas spices and baking cookies, features a display of gingerbread houses decorated by the grandchildren, a tree of elves and the grandchildren's favorite, a table filled with Christmas candies, all red and white.
Margie Gaudet, director of adult Christian formation at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, and Mike Gaudet, who does contract work for Albemarle and serves on the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, built their home in Woodstone in 1983.
Over the years, they have done three additions, including a den-dining room and large porch added to the back of the kitchen. Their original den was recently opened to the kitchen, which was renovated. The present master bedroom was added to the house for Margie Gaudet's father, the late Thomas Anthony John, who moved there after her mother died.
Between the den and new master bedroom is the original master bedroom, which the Gaudets converted to a nursery-playroom for the grandchildren.
"We built the house when we were very young. My dad taught himself architecture and drew the plans," Margie Gaudet said. "It has been a process."