Nov 21 2008

Mariah Graces 'Redbook' Magazine Cover

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Mariah's Simple Christmas Wishlist

Mariah Carey says she doesn't want a lot for Christmas - just a car with champagne to greet her at Aspen airport, a hot tub and a bedroom made to look like the North Pole.

The pop diva shares her secrets with a US magazine saying she is looking forward to celebrating with husband, Nick Cannon, 27.

 "I'm really looking forward to being in love on Christmas," Carey, 38, tells Redbook.

And for the singer the festive season involves a trip to Aspen that begins from the moment she flies into town.

She says: "The first thing that happens is I get off the plane and get into the car, where they have Christmas music blasting and a bottle of champagne ready to pop open.

"It sounds awful but I'm a big kid in that way.

"As soon as I get in that car, I am engulfed in Christmas. I think Nick will be up for that, I really do. He'll be laughing.

"I'm usually working right up until Christmas, but no matter what's going on, no matter where I am, whether it's right after a tour or a video shoot somewhere, on December 21, I head to my house in Aspen and start celebrating.

"I have an extended group of friends and family from all over - as far as Sweden and the United Kingdom, even - and every year we gather in Aspen to make it the most festive Christmas ever.

"We try to outdo ourselves every year.

"This year, in addition to everything I love about celebrating the holidays, it's all going to be heightened because of Nick - in a really good way.

"I think he senses that Christmas is a big deal to me, so he's sort of just going with the flow, so that's cool.

"I'm pretty sure his family and friends will be out there too. We have to figure out, but we're gonna make it work."

Carey's traditions include everything from the way the house is decorated to holiday escapades like skiing in the snow and taking dips in the hot tub.

"Aspen is all about the snow," she says, "and the environment, so it automatically puts you in that celebratory mood.

"I don't really do up my New York apartment for Christmas; I save everything for Aspen.

"The house there is all done up with lights and bells - not over the top, but quaint. It's like a gingerbread house.

"And then you open the door and the first thing you see is this enormous tree and a manger.

"I started going to Aspen the year after my album Butterfly came out, and that year I collected a ton of butterfly ornaments.

"So every year, before we get up there, I have a woman who comes to the house and sets up what we call the butterfly tree.

"It's gorgeous, all silver and gold with angels and butterflies on it and gold, silver and white ornaments.

"And we have a manger set up in the front room because, to me, the season is about celebrating, about being with friends and loved ones, but first and foremost it's about the birth of Christ, and I think it's important to remember that."

Carey has included aspects from her childhood into her very own winter wonderland celebrations.

The singer, who married Cannon in April, says: "Every year we do what we call the 'Charlie Brown Christmas tree', where we string up those big red and green bulbs and hang tons of ornaments - mostly ornaments my fans have sent me over the years.

"They did pictures of, like, me and the dog, just really cute stuff.

"A couple of years ago, one of my friends gave us the idea of taking Polaroids of each other and then decorating them and putting them on the tree.

"That was really fun; I think we might do it again this year. It's a wonderful time for us all to bond and really get into the spirit.

"Last year I was very inspired by the movie Elf_so we set up one of the upstairs bedrooms like the North Pole, all covered in fake snow, with tents and an area where the kids could play with toys like Etch A Sketches.

"My friend's two children were three and one at the time and they were in heaven."

While she likes to have a traditional Christmas, Carey says she and her friends try to make it "our own."

"The focal point of the week is the 23rd, when we do a real sleigh ride," she says.

"Depending on how many of us are up there we get one or two horse-drawn sleighs and we bundle up and go riding in the snow under the stars.

"We always drink cocoa with butterscotch schnapps to keep warm, and we sing at the top of our lungs, not even remotely trying to sound good.

"Later, we go in the hot tub in our Christmas bikinis, then roll in the fresh snow and jump back in the tub."

"Christmas bikinis," Carey says include the "Santa ones" that she loves although they "don't stay on very well, so I usually just do a red bikini with a Santa hat."

The singer also has an agenda for the night before Christmas, saying: "Every Christmas Eve I make linguine and white clam sauce for everybody.

"They always ask: 'Are you gonna make your clam sauce?'

"I'd be worried if Nick hadn't tried it yet, but he did and ate the whole plate!

"I also make stuffed shells. It's kind of random, because I'm not Italian but the recipes were my father's and he gave them to me before he passed away, so it's become a tradition.

"And we always have A Charlie Brown Christmas on TV [while we eat].

"Before the kids go to bed, we leave out cookies and a note for Santa.

"The rest of us stay up really late that night and I usually end up wrapping presents until the sun comes up.

"My problem is, I do too much shopping out there because I never get a chance before that, so I'm sitting up all night wrapping.

"Then I sleep in Christmas Day, which kind of ruins Christmas morning for everybody."

She then adds: "Well, they don't have to [wait].

"Definitely I always tell everyone to let the kids open presents before I get up.

"We do stockings; we all have stockings with our names on them, even the dogs."

Dinner on Christmas Day is a glamorous affair. The singer says: "Actually that's the night we dress up for dinner.

"Last year, my pastor came and did a service for us and ate dinner with us.

"And when I say dress up, I mean I'm in a gown.

"I've got lots of vintage pieces and I wear either red or white and jewelry.

"Usually, a couple of days before, while everyone else is skiing, I just sit around playing dress-up.

"I don't know what that's about - I mean who does that?

"But skiing means being cold and getting up really early - two things I'm not very good at."

Carey's extravagant Christmas traditions are a far cry from the ones she used to have while growing up in New York.

She lived with her mum after her parents divorced when she was quite young.

"My mother, now she was festive," the singer says.

"She always wanted Christmas to be exciting. We didn't always have enough money for a lot of presents, but she'd wrap up whatever she could - even an orange - and say it was from the cat or something, just so I could have things to open.

"I think that when kids are little it's really all about opening things; it doesn't matter so much what they are.

"And my mother always made things very fun."

With a mother who was an opera singer and a vocal coach, music filled the household during the holidays.

"She usually had a Christmas party where she'd make mulled wine and invite all her friends and we'd decorate the tree and everyone would sing carols," Carey says.

"So music is very important to me around the holidays.

"By the end of the week in Aspen everybody is ready to kill me, because from the minute we get there to the minute we leave, I have the Christmas music on.

"Usually it's satellite radio, but we throw our favourites in there, like the James Brown Christmas album and the Jackson Five Christmas album.

"Oh, and I love the Chipmunks' Christmas album.

"It's such a throwback to childhood - just laughing and having a good time."

The singer also celebrates the season with those in need.

She says: "One year I did a concert for Camp Mariah, which is a camp I started that benefits underprivileged children.

"And every year I work with the foster kids of Denver.

"We do a holiday event for them, and the last couple of years - I worry about saying this in case any of them read it - Santa has come and he looks so much like Santa, a real beard and everything.

"And all the kids get gifts and get to take pictures with him."

But this year she will also be thinking about what to give her new husband, actor Nick Cannon.

"I've had a few ideas, but I wouldn't want this to come out before Christmas and give all my ideas away."

And the woman who had a hit with the song All I Want for Christmas Is You, says she doesn't know what gifts she wants.

"Honestly, I haven't really thought about it," she says.

"I just want to have a really good time - a restful, enjoyable time. I want to be ecstatic and have the best Christmas ever.

"And I know that's a really huge request right now.

"There's so much going on in the world that's pretty dismal, but I've always had that glass-half-full outlook.

"That's how I am. And I really think it'll be a memorable Christmas."

- This interview is featured in the current issue of Redbook, on newsstands now.
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