Chip and Karen were desperate for a romantic couple's getaway. After much hesitation, they decided to leave their teenage daughters home alone. But they were met with the ultimate surprise upon their return.
The Big Reveal
The moment had finally arrived. The week had flown by incredibly quickly. The four sisters from South Carolina were anxiously standing by the window, hearts racing as they waited for their parents to return.
Not knowing how their parents would react to their week-long activities, they each made their predictions. “Are they going to cry?” one sister nervously asked. “Will they be surprised?” another worried. Well, the time had come for these questions to be answered. Their parents were pulling up in front of the house…
Where It All Began
Let's take it back to a few weeks before the girls' big reveal - the moment the Schoonover family's story first began. Married couple Chip and Karen Schoonover had spent most of their marriage caring for their children. They valued this time greatly, but were desperate for some alone time after so long.
Since their honeymoon, all their vacations had been with the children. They even had a family trip planned for the upcoming holiday season, which would be full of lasting memories. Before then, however, they wanted a break away where their biggest responsibility would be eating breakfast! But it wouldn't be that simple.
The Big Decision
Although Karen and Chip wanted to be free from all their daily responsibilities, they still wanted to ensure their daughters would be okay. They knew their four children were capable young ladies who could take care of themselves - but they were also aware of what could happen when teenagers were left alone.
The oldest of the bunch, Heather, had moved out of the house a few years prior and was living with her husband. But the other three girls remained in the house. Chip and Karen had seen enough movies to understand the risks of leaving them alone. However, they could never have predicted what they later returned home to.
Chip and Karen were not too worried, though. Their daughters were generally well-behaved and rarely disappointed them; however, they knew that they could easily be persuaded by their friends in a different direction. Teenagers were unpredictable, after all.
They understood the chances their daughters might host a massive party in their absence, and they recognized the risk that they might return to a house turned upside down. If the house were still standing at the end of the week, they would be grateful. The truth was they had no idea what to expect.
The 4H Club
Referring to themselves as the 4H Club, the four daughters had one thing uniting them other than their last name: all their first names started with the letter “H.” Heather, Hollie, Halice, and Haley were a super tight bunch. Not only were they close in age, but they shared a special sister bond.
The sisters may have had the same initials, but they were all on different life paths with varied interests and hobbies. Hollie and Haley had more creative minds, while Halice and Heather focused on following an academic career path starting with a university degree.
Leader of the Group
After Heather left the family home to live with her husband, the second eldest daughter Hollie took on the role of team leader. She was the one responsible for the plan that would leave their parents shocked to their core upon their return. If the plan failed, she would be the one taking the hit.
She knew she couldn’t make her plan come to life on her own. Hollie would need to get all of her sisters on board to help her. But unfortunately, she wasn’t sure if they would be willing to take the risk. And so, she decided to hold a 4H Club meeting…
Hollie sat her two younger sisters down and presented her plan. She proposed they prepare an incredible Christmas surprise for their parents. Her sisters were apprehensive about the project at first as they were less experienced than Hollie, but they agreed after she promised to guide them throughout.
They would start work on the secret surprise as soon as their parents drove out the driveway. There was too much to do and no time to waste. As Chip and Karen hesitantly waved their kids goodbye, they had no idea their daughters had a plan bigger than anything they could have imagined.
After brainstorming a plan of action, the three younger sisters realized the last missing piece of the puzzle was their eldest sister Heather. She had moved west with her husband and was working as a real estate agent. They knew it was a big ask, but they needed Heather to return and lend a hand or two!
As soon as Heather heard about the surprise project, she planned her return without hesitation. She was confident that Hollie had mapped out the details of the project, and she knew it would be a success. She had to be there in the flesh to be part of the excitement.
Documenting the Efforts
Hollie may have formed the idea to surprise their parents for Christmas, but once younger sister Haley heard the plan, she had a proposal to make the plan even better! The creative sister loved to record the family’s most significant moments, and she knew this surprise would also need to be captured.
With her experience behind the camera, Haley was confident in her film-making abilities. She had grown up filming her friends and family and developed a real talent. She often filmed makeup videos with her sister Hollie. It was time for production to begin!
Old Memories, New Upgrades
The Schoonover home in North Myrtle Beach had been the setting for the family’s most magical and memorable moments over their lives. As Chip and Karen’s love for the area grew, they knew this was the house they would grow old together in - even after their kids would leave for bigger and better things.
The house, however, was rather run-down and in desperate need of a makeover. There was a long list of issues with the house, from the wallpaper to the massive build-up of junk, and Karen and Chip did not have the time to take care of it. The sisters knew what they needed to do…
The 7-Day Plan
The girls had decided to go ‘Project Makeover’ on the house. None of them had any real experience with home renovations, and they would only have one week to make it happen. They prepared a careful step-by-step plan that they believed would successfully carry them through to the final result.
They knew it would be a big project with many components, but they planned to start with the smaller steps and go from there. Despite their detailed plan, they were about to encounter numerous unanticipated challenges and hurdles which couldn't be planned for.
The first stage of the project would involve a major cleaning effort. All four sisters worked tirelessly to scrub every corner of the house. They believed this step would take up a few hours, but when they were still carrying out the trash at the end of the day, they feared they might be in over their heads.
They were forced to sort through all the junk, checking if anything was worth keeping. As planned, youngest sister Haley recorded the entire process to present to their parents one day. “You guys have a lot of stuff,” Haley said with an exhausted face to the camera. Soon they would realize that this was just the first challenge.
Scratching The Surface
As the day came to an end, the 4H Club looked around at their clean house and could not wait to start working on the actual renovations. Without any discussion, the sisters knew exactly where they would start. It was no secret that one aspect of the house was dragging the entire place down.
The carpet in the house was old, dull, and ugly and needed to be torn up completely. The teenagers ripped it up and threw it outside for the trash. The process had now truly begun, and they were officially beyond the point of return. They anxiously hoped the plan would not be a total disaster.
With the carpet removed, the house was almost a blank canvas. All that was left was for the old furniture to be taken out. The girls cleared everything from the bedrooms, kitchen, and living room. Thinking ahead, they had purchased all the new furniture in the weeks leading up to their parent’s departure.
Anything they felt was outdated was thrown into the trash, and everything worth saving or sentimental, they fixed up. After this entire furniture exchange took up another full day, the girls started to realize the project was more extensive than they had expected.
Truthfully, the sisters had not anticipated the level of skills required for the project. Although Hollie perhaps had the most renovation experience, they all lacked the essential expertise to complete the house. They were genuinely winging it, and it became clear that they needed some professional help.
They had watched multiple episodes of Project Makeover: Home Edition, which made the task seem so simple. The show often completed tasks within an hour, so they reckoned a week should be more than enough! Problems continuously arose, and they began to panic.
Racing Against the Clock
Despite working on the renovation at all hours of the day to finish on time, it seemed it wasn’t enough. There were only so many energy drinks the girls could drink! Furthermore, their conflicting schedules meant that often only two of the sisters were able to work on the renovation at one time.
Heather’s husband was called in to join the makeover team at the last minute. The walls were painted, the cabinets had been finished, and the new kitchen appliances had been installed, but so much remained. There was one day left until their parents returned! Could they pull it together?
The Final Hours
After a week of renovations, the project’s final day had arrived - and the house still resembled a building site. There was so much to finish and just one last day to get it all done. They knew what they would have to do, and they had really hoped it wouldn’t come to this…
In a desperate attempt to complete the project, the five-person crew decided to work all through the night. There was an abundance of energy drinks and snacks to keep them going, and they got started. They knew, however, they might still need more time.
A Last-Minute Decoy
The sisters devised a plan they knew would buy them a little extra time, even if just ten minutes. As Heather had moved out of the house and struggled to find the time to visit her family, they knew their parents would be extremely excited to see her back home.
The plan was for heather to meet the couple in the driveway and surprise them. The shock and the inevitable embraces would give the other sisters some final extra minutes for the last-minute touches. It may not be enough, but it was definitely worth a try.
Panic Creeps In
It was a moment of panic for both camps. Chip and Karen were incredibly nervous as they drove up in front of their family home. They had no idea what they would be walking into. They tried to keep their worst thoughts at the back of their minds for the duration of the vacation. Now, they would have to face reality.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the front door, the sisters couldn’t stand still. They were not sure how their parents would react to the surprise, and they worried the shock would not be appreciated in the way they dreamed. Perhaps their parents did not want to change the house they had grown their family in?
As Karen and Chip drove into the driveway, they had a feeling they were in for a surprise. Sure enough, Heather was there, running out to greet them. In this moment of excitement, the pair forgot all their concerns. That was until Karen noticed the porch.
“Alright, who cleaned the house?” she jokingly asked her daughters. She had no idea that her children had done so much more than just clean. They had worked together as a team to create something completely magical - but a total surprise awaited them both behind the front door.
Moment of Truth
Before entering their house, Chip and Karen were instructed to take some deep breaths. The couple had been anxious about walking into a party upon their return, but now their daughters were blocking them from entering their home and telling them to mentally prepare for a surprise. What were they walking into?
As Hollie informed her parents that the surprises were just beginning and Heather’s appearance was no coincidence, Karen began to expect the worst. Had they done severe damage to the house that they were trying to now cover-up? She anxiously stepped through the front door.
A New Kitchen
In an incredibly emotional moment captured forever on the family camera, Karen burst into tears upon opening her eyes. She remembered leaving the kitchen in a mess before her rushed departure out the door, but she did not expect to return to a kitchen in this state.
The kitchen had been completely transformed! Light blue paint covered the walls in place of the old, torn wallpaper, and the old, pink chipped cabinets now had a modern, dark, sleek design. Granite covered the countertops, and fresh, white curtains framed the room’s windows. This was just the first room on the tour.
Living Room Upgrades
Although Chip and Karen were still admiring their new kitchen, their children had more for them to see. As soon as they were led into the living room, the couple noticed they were walking on hardwood floors in place of the previous, worn-out ripped blue carpet. Brown leather sofas had replaced the old dirty sofa.
“Oh my gosh,” Karen gushed as she admired the new side table, rug, coffee table, and painted walls. However, the girls had not just upgraded the public spaces - they had taken care of the bedrooms too, and they couldn’t wait to show their parents. Onto to the next step of the tour!
The Ultimate Master Bedroom
Karen and Chip thought they had seen it all in the living room and kitchen. But as they walked into their master bedroom, the tears returned. They looked around in awe as they discovered their darling daughters had not only upgraded their bedroom but had even taken the time to work on the guest bedroom.
Both bedrooms were incredibly beautiful and looked like something out of a catalog. Fresh blue paint covered the bedroom walls, and the sister team had added hardwood floors, new artwork, and brand new bedding. “Merry Christmas,” the girls announced to their now speechless parents. There was one last surprise to pull off.
A Memory to Last Forever
As instructed, Haley had been there with her camera throughout the entire process. She had captured all the most stressful and emotional moments on film, from the first cleaning day until the final minutes of the grand tour. The sisters hoped that this home movie would be the ultimate Christmas gift to present to their parents.
With the entire renovation on record, the family could relive the fantastic memories as many times as they wanted. Once the home tour was completed, Haley edited the video and posted it on their YouTube channel, The4HClub. She had only planned for their friends and family to see it, but fate had other plans.
Sharing the Moment
The entire family posted the moving clip to their social media accounts. Within moments, the video was spreading at an alarming speed. The first comments on the posts were mostly from their friends and family, who were touched by the heartwarming idea and were incredibly impressed by the renovation work itself.
As the team leader, Haley was relieved to see the positive reactions across the internet and paid close attention to the viewer numbers. Just a few days had passed, and already their whole town in South Carolina had seen or heard about their Christmas surprise. Things then took a turn...
Halice was incredibly shocked when she came across a picture of her and her sisters on the home page of a national newspaper. The outlet had reposted a story about the family and their Christmas surprise. Their fame had gone up in scale; they were now going viral across the country.
The story spread further, and more newspapers and magazines were desperate to share the Christmas tale with their readers. The family even featured on local and national television news channels. Video viewing numbers were in the tens of thousands, and people worldwide were sharing the post on Facebook.
More Than They Imagined
It’s safe to say that the Christmas surprise project was a total hit! Not only had the teenagers successfully renovated an entire house with minimal experience, but their parents had been completely surprised. The couple was clearly pleased with the renovations and how the house looked, which was all the girls truly cared about.
Karen recalled to reporters, “I kind of expected to come home to a clean house, but not a totally new house.” It was more than the pair ever imagined they would return home to. Emotions of gratitude and love rapidly replaced all their feelings of fear as they walked into the home.
As the internet and media attention died down, the Schoonover family returned to their regular lives. Although they were no longer ‘famous,’ they had the memories, video, and renovated home to hold onto forever! Moreover, many would continue to be inspired by their incredible kindness.
Their family, friends, and thousands of strangers came to learn the true meaning of love and generosity, in whatever form it may take on. Many learned the valuable lesson that anything could be achieved with determination, a dream, and very little sleep!
The Dream Team
The Schoonover sisters themselves learned essential life lessons beyond kindness from the home renovation experience. They understood, more than ever before, the importance of teamwork. To this day, the close-knit siblings continue to bond over their mutual love for Geocaching.
Here, they combine their minds to navigate their way to multiple small treasures, which can be found using previously found coordinates. It’s the perfect hobby for these four adventurous sisters who understand the strength in numbers more than most! We can't wait to see what other adventures await them...