Aryanna Epperson's Christmas: Santa's Stakeout, ugly Christmas sweaters
Aryanna Epperson has always been in love with the warm and fuzzy feels of the Christmas season.
The holidays, for this rising online star, is a season close to heart because of the extra time she takes to focus on just her family, friends – and thousands of social media followers. Aryanna's claim to Instagram (and social media) fame skyrocketed with her “100 Videos” challenge, in which she religiously posted a minute-long #AryannaInAMinute makeup tutorial every day, for 100 days.
It was through this project that Aryanna cultivated a growing community of beauty-loving gals and pals, including long-time fans since her Youtube vlogging days. But regardless of platform, Aryanna has stayed true to her roots, allowing her bubbly, goofy, and lip-syncing self to light up followers' screens, as well as the creativity skills she’s honed by cooking up a variety of fun content.
From starting out on Instagram merely for creative-self expression and fun, Aryanna realized that her content had been also helping many girls find their path to self-confidence.
"A lot of people may think I’m really girly, materialistic, or I’m shallow because I love makeup. I think that’s a misconception for any girl. It’s such a cliché, but it’s something that makes girls feel confident. I didn’t think I needed it, but it just makes me feel better about myself. It’s really not for other people - it’s for ourselves. Boys don’t even appreciate makeup, I do it for girls!"
Aryanna's talent doesn't stop at being a content creator — her hard work extends to being an MTV and OPMTV VJ and the creative director of a family-owned skincare brand, Always Sunday.
But what others may not know about her is that Aryanna calls herself very shy, contrary to the extroverted nature of her on-screen jobs. “I’m very shy and introverted, which I don’t think a lot of people know," she said. "I’m just like my dad in that sense — we’re very quiet creatives."
Truly, an engaging personality such as Aryanna's must gather her energy from somewhere — and apparently, it's from being alone. All the more reason Aryanna loves the holidays! Who else can relate?
A girl full of surprises, the candid Aryanna has no problem sharing her true self, which is probably why many are drawn to her relatable, authentic persona. But what else might Aryanna’s followers not know about this fun-loving, young creative?
Aryanna takes us on a behind-the-scenes look on her Christmas traditions, her ultimate Christmas comfort food, the best gifts she's ever given and received, and of course, the immense love that she has for her family:
Celebrating Christmas Eve
Aryanna: My family and I do something special every Christmas Eve. We have this thing called the “Santa’s Stakeout”. Every Christmas, we’ll take our mattresses from our bedrooms and bring it downstairs to the living room. We put them on the floor, put lots of blankets and pillows and make a “fort” or “camp.”
We turn on the air conditioning and we watch Christmas movies and drink hot chocolate. We usually watch Elf, that’s like our ultimate Christmas movie, while my mom and I bake cookies and brownies. We started this new tradition with my younger brother, who is now just 8 years old. He’s always wanted to wait up for Santa.
Noche Buena and Christmas mornings
Aryanna: We don’t do Noche Buena at midnight, because our family is small lang. We’re just four. All our relatives are in the States. For the most part, we’ve just been celebrating with just the four of us. It’s been nice.
We don’t open gifts at midnight, either. We open them Christmas morning. We wake up, open gifts, and make breakfast altogether. My dad will be assigned to bacon and eggs, I’ll be assigned to French toast, my mom will make hash browns. My brother will make the orange juice. It’s a family effort. Then the rest of the day is just to relax and chill at home. We just like to not do anything.
Christmas shopping and gift-giving
Aryanna: We like to get our Christmas shopping done way ahead. I’ll shop November. I picked up from my parents making the effort to buy gifts. Gifts aren’t everything, but the thought of being thoughtful is important. I get a high off of buying gifts! Not just for my family, but for anyone.
When it comes to even Kris Kringle, where everyone has a budget, I won’t think about that. I really love to think about a good gift. What does this person really like? What are they interested in? I will listen to people even more around October-November, so by December, I’ve got them the gift. I’d be such a good girlfriend. I’m single by choice, because I’m so busy with my career. I haven’t found a guy yet, but it’s not important! Christmas is about family, friendship…
On Christmas traditions with friends
Aryanna: Usually during Christmas, it’s me who plans the Christmas parties for my barkada. Even the Kris Kringle. Before, when we were all still in school together, it would be easy to draw lots for names. But now, we’ve created more fun ways for gift-giving.
Last year, for our Christmas party, we were all out of school, we did this game where you show up to the party bringing a uni-sex gift board game, wine, sweater, sunglasses, anything with a budget of P500. When you show up, you write a number on your gift and write a fact about you that nobody does, then put it in a jar. You read out all the facts, and whoever can guess who that person is, gets the gift.
But sometimes, we just put up a wishlist online. For the most part, my family doesn’t follow the wishlist.
What’s something about Christmas that you always look forward to? What is it about the holiday season you love?
Aryanna: Well, I know what I DON’T look forward to! Traffic and shopping in the mall. Mid-November and December, I try not to go the mall. You know when there’s a last-minute gift you have to get, though? That’s the worst! But what I do love is when malls start putting Christmas lights and decorations, and when we start decorating our tree.
Decorating the family Christmas Tree every year
Aryanna: Every year, we try to have a different theme for our Christmas tree. When I won as an MTV VJ Finalist, my parents dedicated the tree to me. We had a white tree, because my nickname is Pepper. It was a peppermint tree, so everything had peppermint, red, and white ornaments.
The year before that, my Mom went to Guam and bought all these food ornaments, like glass hotdogs, glass beer — it was so funny (laughs). It was really creative.
The year before that one, it was an all-white tree. We had all these snowy, silver ornaments, because my brother back then would wonder why we didn’t have snow. Last year, was all Santa Claus. The whole tree was covered in Santa Claus. The year before that was all gingerbread!
Her family's Christmas Eve meal gimmicks
Aryanna: Oh, we also have themes for our Christmas Eve food! Last year, we had a Mexi-Christmas with all Mexican food. Instead of the typical lechon, ham or queso, we made Make-Your-Own tacos! We prepped everything in advance and then you’re free to make your own. We did nachos, churros... We even had an all-American Christmas before, with potatoes and chicken.
Last Christmas, we even made holiday cocktails. We made an apple pie kind of cocktail, with fireball whisky, cinnamon and apple juice. Now that I’m older, we’ve added that to tradition — making themed cocktails for Christmas Eve.
It’s really more fun when the whole family can be creative! We usually talk about it two weeks before Christmas to plan decorations, the food. We’ll really sit down and talk about it.
Her favorite Christmas comfort food
Aryanna: Oh, it’s really lasagna. I keep on pushing my parents to make lasagna for Christmas, and it’s only happened once. It was 2-3 Christmases ago when my tita from Laguna was able to join us for Christmas, and she made lasagna. I told my mom, “Sorry, you make good lasagna, but Tita makes the best lasagna.” When she said she was coming, I was like, “Oh, you HAVE to make that lasagna!”
But my favorite thing to look forward to is cookies. Whether made from scratch or Pillsbury's, Mrs. Fields, or Betty Crocker, it doesn’t matter. Since my brother knows you have to leave milk and cookies out for Santa, we always want to try something new. We’ve done snickerdoodles, we’ve done chocolate chip. I eat the extras of Santa’s cookies too because whatever he doesn’t finish, that’s mine.
On the best tangible and intangible Christmas gifts she’s received
Aryanna: My favorite tangible gift would be my scooter from my dad. It’s the most useful, and very practical. This scooter talaga is my life! (laughs) I got this last Christmas. It’s so convenient living in the city, since all the malls are so close. It’s really been helpful because they don’t stop me in the mall. It’s eco-friendly, I get to go around the city and don’t need a car. I use it every day.
My favorite intangible gift, on the other hand, was tickets to an Elton John concert given by my dad. Obviously, you can’t touch the concert, but being there was a wonderful experience. I wasn’t a super huge fan, but my mom really loves him, and I liked his music, too.
It was just a fantastic experience. It was his Rocket Man tour. When I saw him I was like “Oh my god! Elton John!” He was so cool, he wore a blue sequined blazer, pink glasses. My dad surprised us with those tickets.
A gift from my mom was this necklace that I never take off. When they tell me to take it off for a shoot, I don’t want. Only if I have to. I always wear this. People ask me on Instagram, “Uy, kanino galing yun? Boyfriend ba?” (Who's that from? Is that from your boyfriend?) And I’m like, “No, my mom.”
My mom likes everythingto have meaning; to have something I can carry on and give to my children. That's what she did with her mom. Something as simple as shoes, a pashmina... she’s very sentimental.
Who's the best gift-giver in the family
Aryanna: It’s my dad. Not that my mom is a bad gift-giver, but he’s just on a different level of gift-giving. He’ll give me something I didn’t even know I wanted!
One Christmas, he made me a book. It was a compilation of all the photos since I was baby until last year, with stories. It was like a 100-page book of photos and stories. I cried so hard! It’s like something your dad would give when giving away your daughter, but he gave it to me just last year. It was so wonderful. He designed the book, he had it printed, filled it with photos I don’t even remember... it was so meaningful. Your dad is always perceived as the strong one, so when they become so emotional and soft, it makes me cry!
I know he’s so soft inside, because he’d tell me, “You know, watching you grow to the young woman that you are now, I’m so proud of you,” to hear things like that!
What her parents' gifts taught her about values
Aryanna: With his gifts, like the scooter, there’s still a meaning because he knows I’ll use it all the time as part of my every day. My mom likes jewelry, but there's sentimental value.
I try to learn that sense of thoughtfulness and empathy from them. I’m very shy and quiet, so it’s hard to relate to other people, because I don’t know how to open up so much to other people. Now I'm learning, and I’m 10 times better than I was 3 years ago. It’s really because of my parents — they push me to be more empathetic and thoughtful to others.
On the personal impact of these taught values
Aryanna: These lessons reflect in my work ethics. I try to never be late for anything. Even if I’m just 5-10 minutes late, I get anxious. Time is so important, the time we spend with other people, the time they take away from their own lives to be with you. Little things like that.
I also see how my parents work, and I really want to be like them. Being punctual, being passionate about what you do, not doing anything half-assed, to not be accepting of mediocrity, to go out of your way to do something good for others, to help others — I try to do that in little ways. The more you do it, the more it becomes a part of who you are. That’s really because of my parents that I’ve become this person. Even if it’s just through Christmas traditions, gift-giving, it’s really the little things.
The best gift she’s given
Aryanna: For my mom, I got her these gold bracelets. On the inside was engraved “You are my sunshine,” and the other was “Que sera sera.” When I was younger, my mom would put me to bed as a kid, lay next to me and sing to me, “You Are My Sunshine” and “Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be.” I put those lyrics inside. When she received it, I’ve never seen her cry so hard. We were both bawling so hard, because that’s something simple she could wear, but when saw the inside. I didn’t even have to explain.
I remember giving my Dad a yogurt maker, and he LOVED it. Even up to now, he still uses it. He loves making yogurt. He loves it. Maybe I could’ve gotten him something better, but at the top of my head, I felt like that was the one.
To my brother, he’s too easy to please. Toys pa rin. Just last year, he got into card games. Every time I’d travel I’d give him a unique deck of cards. I got him this cool of deck cards that he super loves last Christmas, which he still uses now.
Her wishlist this Christmas
Aryanna: Something that I really want but I know will not get is another dog. I love dogs, I’m so happy with Mabel, my Golden Retriever, and Q, my border collie. My dad and I are really the dog people. If we can have 10, we will. But my mom isn’t an animal person. She only likes dogs when there our dogs, but I don’t think she’ll want one more. The puppy stage is always the worst — they’re pooping everywhere, biting, scratching, and I don’t want to deal with a stressed-out mom.
I really want a pug! My mom says there’s so ugly, but they’re so ugly that they’re so cute. Or a daschund, a hotdog dog! I know I won’t get it, and it’s fine, I’m grateful for the dogs I have.
I’m not so choosy during Christmas. Material wishes? Just anything that’s practical or sentimental. I don’t like things that you just use once or twice. I’m not too particular. Kaya my parents don’t like me anymore. They ask me what I want, I just say “Whatever.” And they’re like “Can you please just give us an idea?”
I know it sounds so cheesy, but I feel like I’m content with everything. If I want something, I’ll just buy it myself. But I do want another dog. But it’s okay, the gift of family, friendship and love is enough.
Her go-to holiday makeup look
Aryanna: To be honest, when I’m at home, I don’t wear makeup. Even during Christmas, I don’t, because there’s no one to impress. But for events, even though I don’t usually wear red lipstick, I love wearing red lipstick for the holidays.
I’ll just go super neutral, browns lang, no blush, and just a sparkly highlighter and red lipstick. Or I like gold with lots of glitters, and a nude lip. It really depends on the vibe. I really like going sparkly with a bold red lip.”
What she loves the most about Christmas
Aryanna: Spending time with my family. We’re always busy, none of us work a 9-5 job, we’re always in and out of the house, with our different schedules. What’s nice about Christmas is that we don’t think about work or anything. It’s just time solely to focus on being together as a family, and going out of your way to do things that are special for each other.
Her quirky Christmas habit/tradition
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Christmas sweaters are life!! Hoarding all of them for our barkada Christmas party Can’t wait to give these cute holiday gifts to @cjf.l too hehe And check out @f21philippines Black Friday Deals: up to 50% off on selected items from November 16 to November 26 across all Forever 21 branches #F21HolidayWishList
Aryanna: I also love shopping for Christmas sweaters — the ugliest ones possible! (laughs) As in I easily have 5 Christmas sweaters still in my house. Every year I try to get rid of it but I can’t seem to. Forever 21 and H&M have those with reindeers on them. There was also a pizza one with sequins that when rubbed, changes into a Christmas tree. It was really smart. I start wearing my sweaters in December. In all my vlogs, you’ll see them. When I go out, I wear them. Gotta make them sulit!" (laughs)
Her favorite holiday ever
Aryanna: Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday. More than my birthday, more than Valentine’s Day. I love the holidays because it’s always an excuse to be extra. (laughs)