When Chip and Karen went away on a much-needed romantic trip, they left their daughters behind. Though nervous about them spending a week alone, they could never have expected what they found when they got home.
Moment of Truth
On a normal day in South Carolina, four sisters stood in the front window of their home. Their parents had left a week earlier on a romantic getaway, and the girls were anxiously awaiting their return.
The past week had been a frantic and busy one, and there was news awaiting their unsuspecting parents. All kinds of questions raced through the girl's minds. "Are they going to cry?" one sister wondered, while another asked, "Will they be surprised?" There was only one way to find out…
Back To The Beginning
The story began several weeks earlier with the girls' parents, Chip and Karen Schoonover. They were loving, dedicated parents, and they often prioritized spending time as a family over spending time together. But they knew that they needed some time alone.
It had been years since they’d had time away as a couple - since their honeymoon, in fact! Every other vacation was spent with their children, and they even had a family trip coming up in the following months. But before that, they wanted to embark on a romantic getaway, just the two of them.
Making Big Choices
Going away together wasn’t out of the question, but they needed to know that their daughters would be well taken care of first. It was going to be the first time they were left alone to mind the house for an entire week. Their daughters weren’t little kids, and the couple was confident they could take care of themselves.
But they weren’t so confident that they could take care of the house on their own. They were still teenagers, after all, and they knew from movies, TV, and personal experience, that teens could get up to all sorts of mischief when left in charge of a house.
Risking It All
Thankfully, their three youngest daughters were all fairly tame teenagers, and their eldest daughter, Heather, was a full-blown adult living with her husband. All three were trustworthy girls, but like many teenagers, they were easily swayed by their peers.
And despite how much they trusted their daughters, the last thing they wanted was their friends talking them into throwing a huge party while the ‘rents were away for a week. But a brief holiday away was important to Chip and Karen, so they packed their bags and accepted the risk that the house might be in disarray when they returned.
While their four daughters all had their own individual personalities, they definitely had some similarities. First, they were all quite close in age. And second, they all had names that started with “H:” Heather, Hollie, Halice, and Haley. They were a tight unit, too, even giving themselves a name - the 4H Club.
These similarities helped to keep the sisters close, even if they were all on very different paths. Halice and Heather were the more academic of the four, both heading to college to get their degrees and start their careers, whereas Hollie and Haley were the more free-spirited and creative of the family.
Growing up as the oldest sister, Heather had been the head of the sisters for the longest time. But once she moved out and married her husband, Hollie became the unofficial leader of the remaining sisters at home. And she was the one who began to put a plan in place…
This was the plan that would eventually stun their parents once they returned home. But Hollie was determined to bring her plan to reality, and she had to convince her three sisters to join her. After some thinking, she called the 4H club together for a meeting.
Some Helping Hands
Or at least, she gathered together the sisters that were still at home. She told Halice and Haley about her brilliant idea - to put together a Christmas surprise for their beloved mom and dad. While her two sisters weren’t sure they could pull it off, they agreed.
Just as Chip and Karen had their bags in the car and were halfway down the street, their daughters would start bringing their plan to life. Hollie had a lot of ideas, and there was plenty of work to do. So they smiled and waved as their parents drove away, with no idea of what would greet them when they finally returned.
Four Of A Kind
But the girls knew that they couldn’t do it all on their own - they needed one last set of hands to make everything work. And they knew it had to be the last member of the 4H Club. So they called their eldest sister Heather, who was living out west with her husband and working as a real estate agent.
They knew it was a long shot - after all, Heather was a grown adult with a full-time job and a life away from home. So they were surprised when she said yes immediately! She thought Hollie’s plan was great and was more than happy to help them bring it to fruition.
Recording Precious Memories
As time went on, the two younger sisters became more confident in the plan and in their own ideas. Haley even suggested another idea that would make Hollie's plan even better: She had a habit of recording all of the family's most precious moments, and she knew this plan should be one of them.
So she used her experience with a camera to document Hollie’s surprise Christmas plan from beginning to end. For her, it would be a walk in the park as she had been filming her friends and family since she was very young and even filmed makeup tutorials with Hollie.
For years the Schoonovers had resided in their home in North Myrtle Beach. The girls had grown up there, and Chip and Karen loved the area as well as their family home. It held years of happy memories and moments the family had shared, and they had every intention of growing old there.
Unfortunately, the family home wasn’t in the best condition. Over the years, many parts of the house had begun to deteriorate. There was plenty of peeling wallpaper and a ton of junk that had built up over time. Between work and raising their children, Karen and Chip never had the time to sort through it all.
A Week Of Work
The girls knew that the best Christmas present they could possibly give their parents would be fixing up the parts of their home that were falling apart and cleaning and reorganizing everything. They wanted their parents to come back to a brand new home.
They had just seven days to do it, so they had to get to work. They put together a step-by-step plan that involved every part of the house that needed to be cleaned and fixed up. They organized things into smaller tasks and bigger obstacles, but they had no idea how challenging this ‘extreme makeover’ would be.
The four girls chose to start with cleaning since it seemed like the easiest and most straightforward task. Together they began scrubbing every inch of the house, from corner to corner. They had allocated a few hours to the cleaning effort - but by the end of the first day, they were still taking out bags of trash.
That's because they had to sort through everything first. They sifted through years' worth of junk around the house, and Haley took to recording everything that passed from their hands to the garbage bags. "You guys have a lot of stuff," she remarked tiredly.
Just The Beginning
Soon enough, their first day without parents had come to an end. It had taken longer than expected, but the house was finally clean. And it was time to start repairing and renovating. This called for step two, taking out one of the worst features of the house.
The carpet had been the bane of theirs and their parent's existence. It was old, ugly, and worn away after years of being walked over. So the four girls tore the whole thing out and happily threw it all in the trash. This was the first major renovation, and there was no going back now.
Clear It All Out
Now that the entire carpet had been taken out, it was time to move all of their old furniture. The quartet went through all of the bedrooms, the kitchen, and the living room, hustling every piece of furniture out. They had taken the initiative and purchased almost a house worth of new furniture.
They sorted through every piece of furniture, cleaning and repairing the pieces that still had potential or held some kind of sentimental value for the family. Again, it took them a full day to clear and swap out all of the furniture, much longer than they had planned for.
In Over Their Heads
Though their intentions were good, the Schoonover sisters had underestimated the time, effort, and skill they would need to complete the makeover project. Hollie had some renovation experience, but not enough to makeover an entire house on her own - and her three sisters had none.
They were doing everything on the fly and were sorely in need of help. Hollie had been inspired by the TV show Project Makeover: Home Edition, where houses were renovated and repaired in a matter of hours! Hollie had assumed a week would be more than enough, but it became increasingly clear they were running out of time.
Running Out Of Time
The girls did everything they could, working around the clock and even stocking up on energy drinks in the hopes that caffeine would keep them going late into the night. And unfortunately, the girls still had other commitments, so for much of the time, only two girls were able to work on the house at once.
As the clock kept ticking, Heather even called in her husband to help with the team effort. During this time, they repainted - but still, there was a mountain of work to do. By this point, they had just one day left before Chip and Karen was scheduled to return home. They were running out of time.
Almost an entire week had passed, and the sisters were faced with the last day of renovations before their parents arrived. They only had a few hours left, and renovations were still ongoing. There was so much left to do that it seemed impossible to think they could finish it all.
They lined up everything they still had to do, and together all five of them tore through the house. They worked all night the night before and well into the morning, keeping their bodies fueled with snacks and energy drinks. But they couldn’t escape the thought that they’d run out of time.
A Perfect Distraction
Their parents would be home soon, so the four siblings formed a daring plan. These days Heather was often too busy to make it home to see her family, and they knew that Chip and Karen would be ecstatic to see her. Her presence would serve as the perfect decoy.
So they set up a plan for Heather to divert her parents the second they parked in the driveway. They were confident their mom and dad would be so shocked and excited that it would buy them some extra time. Even if it only bought them ten more minutes, it would be worth it.
The fact is both groups were on edge leading up to the arrival home. Chip and Karen were worried about the state of their home, wondering if their daughters had taken advantage of their absence to throw a party or cause trouble. They had enjoyed their trip - but the pair were coming back to reality as they drove down the street.
And the girls were even more anxious, waiting at the front of the house, looking out for their parent's car to pass the curb. They had spent 7 days working hard on the family home, but they had no idea how Chip and Karen would react to it. Would they even appreciate the changes the girls had made?
Despite having no idea what their daughters had in store for them, Chip and Karen couldn’t fight the feeling that something was about to happen. So when they saw their eldest daughter standing in the driveway, they were too swept away by the excitement of her presence to think about anything else.
But over Heather's shoulder, Karen noticed how unusually tidy the porch was. "Alright, who cleaned the house?" she asked. She wondered if Heather had done some tidying up during her stay, but of course, they had no idea of the extent of the cleaning until they walked through the door…
The Big Reveal
Chip and Karen knew that something had taken place when their three younger daughters appeared in the doorway and advised their parents to take a deep breath. The girls wanted to mentally prepare them for what they were about to see, and the older pair were beset by nerves all over again.
Hollie took a step forward and acknowledged the clean porch, implying that there was much more awaiting them inside. She told them that Heather hadn't just arrived for a visit, and their mother's mind began racing. What had their daughters done to the house? She began imagining all kinds of ruin and chaos within.
First, The Kitchen
Haley quickly prepped the video camera, wanting to capture Chip and Karen's reactions when they walked through the door. And their reactions were huge! Upon walking into the spotlessly clean kitchen, which was at the front part of the house, Karen burst into a flood of tears.
The kitchen had been an utter mess when they left, and now it was an entirely new space. Not only was it clean, but the wallpaper had been replaced by a sheen of light blue paint, and the cabinets and countertops had been replaced by more modern granite and dark wood.
A New Living Room
Their parents were so busy gazing at the kitchen renovations that they didn’t realize it was just the beginning of the changes. Their daughters cut their admirations short and guided them to the living room, where the dull carpet had been replaced by shiny hardwood floors.
The tattered sofa had been replaced with brown leather ones and sat next to a new coffee table, rugs, and a side table. “Oh my gosh,” Karen whispered, unable to believe what she was seeing. The wallpaper had been replaced here too! But that wasn’t all, and she and Chip were quickly ushered to the next room.
The Big Bedroom
The two overwhelmed parents were already stunned by the changes, so it was hard to believe that there were even more upgrades awaiting them. Finally, the girls lead Karen and Chip through to their master bedroom, which brought Karen to tears - again.
Their bedroom had been completely upgraded with new decorations, new bedding, and of course - hardwood floors and a fresh coat of blue paint. The guest bedroom had even been renovated too! “Merry Christmas,” their four smiling daughters finally declared to their stunned mom and dad.
A Record Of Their Memories
But the renovations weren’t the only gift the girls had to give their parents: Haley had put together their final homecoming/Christmas gift - in the form of a video. She had documented everything from the last 7 days, from the first days of planning and renovating to the final product.
And, of course, she had topped it off with their grand tour of the home and their mom and dad's emotional reactions. The final edited video of the experience would be their final Christmas gift. That way, their friends and family would always have those memories - and they even posted them on Youtube via their channel, The4HClub.
Spreading the Joy
Originally the video was only meant for their friends and family to cherish. They shared it with the people they knew on other social media platforms, and their loved ones clamored to watch the incredible makeover journey. But to the surprise of the Schoonovers, it spread much further than their social circles.
In a surprisingly short amount of time, their cherished video began to spread around the internet - as even strangers found joy in its contents. Within a week following their posts, everyone in their South Carolina town knew about the Schoonover daughter's extraordinary Christmas gift.
Becoming Household Names
The family knew that their story had gained local attention. But it was a huge shock when, one day, Halice picked up a national newspaper and saw a picture of herself, her sisters, and her parents on the home page! Their DIY story had been reposted to the entire country.
And it didn’t stop there. In the coming month, the story was picked up by countless news outlets both locally and nationally, as many publications saw it as the perfect story to lead up to Christmas. It really was an ideal way to encourage a sense of holiday spirit around the country.
Across The Internet
Users around the world were quick to pay attention too, and the video of the Christmas surprise caught wind on Facebook, garnering thousands of likes and comments. All over the world, the four daughters were being praised for their wonderful Christmas gift for Chip and Karen.
So much so that the family was even being interviewed by news outlets! “I kind of expected to come home to a clean house, but not a totally new house,” Karen told reporters. All the worry they had felt while driving home had vanished and been replaced by immense feelings of love and gratitude for their children.
For a few months, the story of the home renovation had taken over their lives. But as time passed and Christmas came and went, the Schoonovers soon settled back into their normal lives. Though there was less internet fanfare, the afterglow of their new home and precious memories remained.
And what's more, the family had the satisfaction of knowing that thousands of people had been inspired by the girls' kind and loving gestures to their parents. It became a symbol of love, generosity, and the true meaning of the Christmas spirit to family, friends, and strangers across the globe.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
And it wasn’t just the public who learned a valuable lesson from the viral video. Overall, the experience had given the Schoonover sisters a much deeper appreciation for their family - the teamwork and cooperation they could foster with each other to make something amazing happen.
It helped them bond with each other and their parents - and even today, the four girls still get together to go Geocaching as a form of sisterly bonding time. After the hype and excitement of their renovation adventure, it’s another way of keeping close-knit and building that sibling connection. We love to see it!