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Samantha Simon
Dec 20, 2017 @ 4:15 pm

Gwen Stefani is a huge fan of the holidays, and this season, she’s made it her business to spread plenty of cheer. She released her own Christmas album, You Make It Feel Like Christmas, which features renditions of classics like “Let It Snow” as well as original songs, like album’s titular duet with her boyfriend Blake Shelton. She sang “White Christmas” while looking like a sparkly snowflake herself during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and she even hosted her own holiday special on NBC earlier this month, treating a primetime audience to holiday-themed sketches and musical performances. 

But the holiday fun doesn’t end when she’s out of the public eye. In fact, she keeps the Christmas spirit alive and well off-stage, too, and it all starts with one beloved lifelong holiday tradition in particular.

“My grandma and mom started the ongoing family tradition of sending Hallmark cards during the holidays when I was little,” Stefani told InStyle. “I remember we would keep the cards we received from my grandma up on our wall all year, because they were so special.”

Stefani—who partnered with Hallmark Signature for their “Jingle Bells” commercial this year and featured the brand’s archived gift wrap on her album art—has kept the tradition alive and well. “I love picking out the cards and looking at the beautiful, classic artwork,” she said. “And there’s something really meaningful about getting a heartfelt handwritten note—especially during the holiday time.”

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Greeting cards aren’t the only supplies that Stefani stocks up on while holiday shopping. “One of my childhood traditions that I've continued with my kids is that when Santa comes, he covers the entryway that leads to the Christmas tree and presents with wrapping paper,” she said. “On Christmas day, the kids run through the paper to get to the presents. It’s such a fun moment and one of my favorite things.”

While she clearly enjoys sticking to her traditions, Stefani likes to create new ones too. “One thing I hope to do for the first time this year is [make] gingerbread,” she said. “My grandma used to make a whole gingerbread village from scratch and would have it on display in the bay window at her home. We would go and visit on Christmas and, at the end of the day, my siblings and I all got to take home what was left of our gingerbread houses. That’s something I want to try and start this year.”

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Stefani is planning to spend the holidays with her kids and Shelton in Los Angeles, and she’s perfectly fine with the lack of a true white Christmas. “The ultimate Christmas, no matter where I am, consists of family, Christmas music, and lots of holiday treats,” she said.

And what festive tunes will she be listening to on the big day? “Its hard to pick just one, [but] a couple of my favorite holiday classics are ‘Angeles We Have Heard on High’ and ‘The Christmas Song.’ I also love Emmylou Harris's ‘Light of the Stable.’”

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Releasing her own Christmas album was just icing on the already decked-out holiday cake for Stefani, and she was especially fond of recording one song in particular. “I feel so lucky that I got to write a duet with Blake,” she said. “We are huge fans of Christmas music in general. We bring out all the Christmas music on Thanksgiving night and play it nonstop.”

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Christmas music isn’t the only thing on repeat in Stefani’s household. “I grew up watching the holiday specials they had on TV; some of my favorites were The Nutcracker, Sound of Music, and the Donny & Marie Christmas Show,” she said, noting that her top pick is a bit more recent. “Elf is definitely my favorite movie that we have on repeat during the holidays.”

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