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Padma Lakshmi Is Not a Fan of Giving Holiday Gifts

Sarah Aswell is a freelance humor writer who lives in Missoula, Montana, with her husband and two kids. Her words have appeared in places like The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, The Hairpin, and more.

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We know: It's hard not to imagine what the holidays are like for Padma Lakshmi, amazing author, model, actor, producer and businesswoman. Does she set 100 doves free while wearing a string bikini? Does she watch reruns of Top Chef and laugh and laugh uproariously every time she says, "Pack your knives and go"? Is she really super-smart and pleasant all the time for real?

Well, SheKnows caught up with Lakshmi this week for an exclusive interview to ask her about her holiday traditions and pastimes, from what she does on Christmas Day to what she's planning to get her 7-year-old daughter Krishna Thea this holiday season.

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When it comes to her culture and religion, Lakshmi was born in India and is Hindu — but she readily admits that she is also a "Christmas fundamentalist." What does that mean? That she happily celebrates what Christmas means and likes to participate in most of the traditions, from decorating a tree to feasting with friends.

Her favorite Christmas tradition has to do with food (are you really surprised?). She told SheKnows cooking the holiday turkey all night long is not only a special tradition, it also frees her up to relax and enjoy the day.

"We have a tradition of cooking the turkey on Christmas Eve really, really late while we write our notes for Santa and bake our last Christmas cookies and put the finishing touches on our gingerbread house," she said. "I put in a big, fat turkey. I blast it on high heat then lower the heat and cook it really slowly overnight. Then very early in the morning, at like 5 or 6 a.m., I get up to make sure the turkey came out well and to put my daughter’s presents under the tree. Then I’m relaxed and make a couple sides, and then by noon I’m done and can lay around all day by the fire opening presents, being with family in my pajamas, hanging out in my onesie."

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But while she love the ideas of trimmed trees and Christmas onesies, she isn't too big on one aspect of the season: the gift exchange.

"I’m not a big present shopper," she confessed. "We don’t trade gifts, except we get gifts for the kids. I don’t get any of my friends or family gifts and they don’t give me gifts except for my daughter and my nephews."

While her daughter does make the cut for Christmas gifts, Lakshmi still likes to keep the presents small and practical. What will Krishna get under the tree this year?

"She doesn’t need a damn thing. I’ll tell you that," Lakshmi said with a good-natured laugh. "She doesn’t need anything. But I have to get her a little something. I thought I would get her a little sewing machine because she’s interested in designing clothes. She doesn’t need anything. She needs new Hula-Hoops. That’s literally all I can think of."

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Finally, what happens to all that midnight-roasted turkey? According to her Instagram, it gets a second life, shredded, mixed with roasted veggies and covered in gravy for an enormous turkey potpie. And we really, really want to come over for leftovers.

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