Anyone else all about made-for-TV holiday movies that are all over Lifetime and Hallmark channels this time of year? Us too! Then you know that Melissa Joan Hart is one of the veritable Queens of Lifetime’s festive films. This season, as part of a new multi-film, two-year deal with the network, the Sabrina the Teenage Witch star directs her fourth Lifetime film, Santa’s Bootcamp. Her youngest son Tucker (10) is also part of the cast (in addition she is Mom to Mason, 16 and Braydon, 14 with husband, Mark). We spoke to Melissa about her favorite holiday traditions, why she thinks these films are more addictive than frosted Christmas cookies, and that time Jason Priestley showed up to her ugly sweater party.
Congratulations on Santa’s Bootcamp! Why do you think these films resonate so much?
Thank you! Well, this is a season of joy and hope but at the same time it can be very difficult for people—it can be depressing. Some people are suffering throughout the first holiday with a loved one, or going through a divorce, or stressed financially. This new genre gives people a place to turn for a happy ending. Whether you’re baking cookies, or wrapping presents, or sick on the couch, you can turn to these movies for comfort.
Love that! What are some of your own favorite holiday traditions?
Everything we do is tradition! We have to bake certain cookies, watch certain movies, and the youngest puts the angel on the tree. But my favorite tradition is what I did as a kid. My kids have to sit and wait for us to check that Santa came. And then they come running down the stairs to tear open presents. We also do matching holiday PJS.
Lovely! Any other traditions that you hope your own kids continue, from your family?
There’s a pie that I have to make that I don’t make any other time of year—my grandma’s secret recipe for French silk pie. We could make it anytime but we don’t. It was something my grandma made when I was little and then my mom made it, too.
There’s a lot of pressure on moms to make Christmas magical – how do you stay sane during this crazy time?
I’m really lucky my husband Mark is as into Christmas as I am. He really helps a lot with the “magic” elements. He does a lot of the cooking. This year I got my Christmas cards done early to get that off my plate. It does get hard thought – the traditions and amount of things you have to check off the list. You start to think maybe I’ll just send an environmentally friendly Christmas text, ha!
Great ideas! Why do you love supporting the World Vision Choose Joy campaign?
Oh my gosh, they do such amazing work around the world and in our country. For instance, we’re building a well in Zambia where our sponsored girls are. For my husband and my 20th anniversary we’re bringing our boys to see the work that’s being done. They don’t just fix a problem—they teach people how to solve problems. I love going through their gift catalogue for [artisan-made] gifts for everyone from my postman to colleagues—you can also donate [real world materials] like medical supplies to Africa or school supplies to the US.
What are your favorite holidays spots to visit in Nashville?
Well, I’m relatively new to Nashville, but the Opryland theater is doing Rudolph and it’s incredible. Cheekwood Mansion also has a lights show. In New York, my friends and I will go see the tree at Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Tavern on the Green and the Rockettes.
What’s the key to a great holiday party?
I always do a tacky sweater party. Jason Priestley showed up at my party in Nashville last year and the party went silent….hey, he’s everyone’s first crush!