Jeannie Mai loves everything about Christmas. Over-the-top glitter, metallic decor, advent calendars, and traditional stockings—she’s into all of it! She likes the holidays so much, she only takes down all the trimmings when she’s nibbling on candy. Valentine’s Day candy!
Walk down memory lane with the television host and get into the Christmas spirit. Trust us, you’ll walk away humming to the tune of Mariah Carey’s “Baby it’s cold outside” by the time you’re done reading this post!
WM: Let’s go back in time. Talk us through your favorite holiday memory…
Jeannie: My family throws the best Christmas parties! Imagine if Santa Claus went to Asia—it’s like my favorite cultures melded together. Mama Mai cooks a major dinner, and it was always a Viet-fusion feast: turkey with sides of duck, mac and cheese with fried rice, and steaming hot bowls of pho. As for alcohol—a must—cranberries are used generously in crushed cocktails with Hennessy.
As you look around our living room, you would see traditional Christmas presents mixed with lucky Chinese red envelopes. Each room is made up in holiday colors: red, green, gold, and silver. Mama Mai collects Santa figurines, and we have several displayed all over the house.
We love buying Christmas decorations—365 days of the year we are at every vintage store, every fabric store, and every Cost Plus World Market near us to collect items that make each holiday better than the last.
WM: How do you incorporate your beloved family traditions into your home life today?
Jeannie: I think it’s really important to remain authentic to your upbringing. There is nothing more dope than the meld of cultures to create new traditions. For example, when it comes to opening Christmas gifts, we let all the kids go first. They have to open each one individually and give thanks to the giver of each gift with a big hug and kiss.
I love to see how meaningful traditions and values are passed down to the kids in our family, like gratitude and respect for elders; the hope is that some day, they’ll pass on the same traditions and values to their own children and families.
WM: Describe your Christmas decor style.
Jeannie: Over-the-top glitter with the feels of a warm hug.
WM: Guests are coming over for a holiday party. Which dishes and cocktails will you serve?
1. Homemade Beef Pho with Sriracha.
2. Avocado Egg Rolls. I have mastered how to make these rolls in a healthy and wholesome way, thanks to an air fryer. I use the egg roll wrapping paper and chili dipping sauce from the Asian food aisle in store.
3. Everyone who walks in starts with a Mini-Toni, which is a chilled and shaken chocolate wine—one of the best items I have discovered!
4. My mom makes Dill Salmon Wraps which are divine. We use German spices and Chardonnay to steam the salmon!
5. I love the Artichoke Spread smeared on meats. The trick is to use the decorative Christmas platters for serving crudités (with the spread).
WM: What’s your favorite Christmas carol?
Jeannie: It’s not a carol, but a song. It’s Mariah Carey’s “Baby its cold outside,” which in my opinion is the be-all and end-all of all Christmas jams!
WM: When do you start decorating for Christmas?
Jeannie: I started in November! I like to start early so I can maximize spreading the Christmas spirit. I cover my house with beautiful candles and go as far as to replace all my hand soaps and lotions with holiday scents, like the Whimsical Holiday Santa Candy Cane Bar Soap and Castelbel Mehndi Pink Grapefruit Hand Cream.
WM: Which decor pieces on your mantel are your favorites?
Jeannie: I love the Christmas stockings, they’re so glamorous. And the laser-cut globe.
WM: A holiday mantel isn’t complete without a …
Jeannie: …classic wooden nutcracker. The nutcrackers are so detailed, beautiful and unique. I love all of them!
Shop Jeannie’s Mantel: String Lights | Traditional Tall Nutcrackers | Silver Mercury Pillar Candle | Heidel Nostalgic Advent Calendar | Wood and LED Light Up Music Globe | Metal Angels with Horns | Red Felt Stocking with Tassels | Retro Bottlebrush Tabletop Trees | Retro Bottlebrush Tabletop Trees | Wood and LED Light Up Word Decor