Actress Melissa Joan Hart is best known for her memorable leading roles on Clarissa Explains It All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. But to her family and friends, she’s also known for being something of a Christmas nut. “I’ve always been really into the holidays. I throw big parties this time of year. And with kids, it takes on another level,” says Melissa. Given her enthusiasm for the season, it makes sense that she has starred in four different Christmas flicks. Her latest, A Very Nutty Christmas, is airing now on Lifetime, and is a perfect mix of lighthearted romantic comedy mixed with classic Christmas tunes (think: Tchaikovsky!). Melissa plays busy bakery owner Kate Holiday, whose love for the season is jeopardized when her mall Santa boyfriend abruptly ends their relationship. But the next morning, a handsome Nutcracker soldier ornament, played by actor Barry Watson from 7thHeaven), comes to life—and well, you can see where this is heading. We spoke to the Westport, CT, resident about her holiday traditions with her three kids and what’s next for her in 2019.
Please tell me about your new movie—sounds like a fun one to make.
It was very fun making this movie. I think when the cast is having a good time the audience has a good time, too.
You have three kids—how has the holidays changed for you since becoming a mom?
I’ve always been really into the holidays. We still have 3 believers [in Santa] in our household—Elf on the Shelf helps with that.
Nice! We just did an interview with the creator of Elf on the Shelf so we’re big fans. What else puts you and your family into holiday mode?
Holidays Sirius XM in the car, baking holiday cookies and of course watching Christmas movies!
Ha, of course! Which are your go-tos?
We’ve already watched [National Lampoon’s] Christmas Vacation and this weekend it’s Elf. Other than that, White Christmas, It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34thStreet…We love getting snuggled in PJs at night and watching together.
Which holiday traditions from your own childhood are you passing on?
Making them gingerbread houses, baking the cookies…the only thing we don’t do is stringing popcorn and cranberries…that used to take a ton of time!
Speaking of time…between three kids and working, how do you make time for your relationship?
Sometimes you have to schedule it and hire a sitter. We like to catch up while they’re at school. My husband is a trainer now so if I’m not working we go to the gym together and have lunch. Not late at night…the last thing I want to do at night is put on heels.
What has surprised you about yourself as a mom?
I think I’m more relaxed than I thought I’d be. I thought I’d spend every waking moment with my children. Being a working mom, I’m lucky to have a husband who can be home so I can work or go to a girls’ night. I’m a little shocked that I’m okay being gone but I make sure my family is a priority.
The Local Moms Network is in suburbs all over the country, including in your hometown of Westport, CT! Why did you decide on the ‘burbs and not LA?
Well my husband and I both grew up in the country and we wanted somewhere that felt like a small town with a good school system and a sense of community. Everyone in LA is scattered. It’s nice to be in a small town where you see friendly faces everywhere.
We couldn’t agree more! So, what is next for you in the new year?
After this movie comes out I’ll be back at work on my next Netflix show, No Good Nick, that will launch in the spring.
This story originally appeared on The Local Moms Network.