Busy Philipps is curled up on a sofa, festive decorated Christmas trees behind her, musing about pizza. The actor and mom of two is taking a break from some serious crafting, courtesy of Michaels stores, to talk about all things holidays — but all that hot glue-gunning has made her hungry, and the Christmas cookies and hot cocoa on hand won’t cut it right now.
Still, if she’s even remotely hangry, she’s not showing it. Chatting with Philipps is like chatting with your best mom-friend (we should all be so lucky); she’s just as funny, cool and down-to-earth as you’d hope she’d be. The mom of Birdie, 11, and Cricket, 6, talked to SheKnows about her family’s favorite holiday traditions — from a Christmas confection called “sea foam” to her Elf on the Shelf shenanigans — and shared a life-changing hack for cleaning up glitter.
SheKnows: So tell us, what are your favorite family traditions for the holidays?
Busy Philipps: Well listen, I come from a family where Christmas was a big deal. It was the biggest thing going for us. The girls and I have carried on a lot of the traditions that my mom and grandma had started. We do the cookie making together, and I make this kind of candy that my grandma used to make called sea foam, which is a little bit tricky to do, but she taught me how to make it before she passed away and so I am carrying on the tradition. Sea foam is delicious. It’s really light and fluffy and there’s walnuts in it. I don’t know, it’s a little weird. It’s old-fashioned, but I love it. It’s nostalgic for me.
Then we like to do the tree together, and we are not a house that does a perfect-looking, matching ornament tree.
I have ornaments from when I was a kid. My girls have a really good ornament collection as well.
We do the Elf on the Shelf in the house. That’s a new tradition. I obviously didn’t have that growing up because elves just showed up, I don’t know what they were doing when I was a kid.
SK: Elf on the Shelf: Your elf moves every night?
BP: My elf has had articles written about them, my elves are really on the scene. They really like to make all the magic happen. They do all kinds of stuff. I thought they just moved around the house and then it was actually Michelle Williams, my best friend, who said, “No, they can do all kinds of stuff. You should make them do stuff.” That’s how it started. Then it just became a whole thing but because I love crafting and I love setting up little scenes and things, it is actually really fun for me to do.
SK: Speaking of crafting, we’re here for Michaels. Has your crafting gene been passed down to your girls?
BP: For sure. All kids love art. I don’t know one kid that doesn’t love to do an art project, or play with Play-Doh, or get messy or get glitter everywhere. That is one thing… glitter is so insidious, man. Once it shows up, forget it.
SK: Glitter is allowed in your house?
BP: Glitter is kind of allowed in my house. I’m very specific about the kind of glitter — it has to be bigger glitter, because that tiny sprinkly glitter… just forget it. You know the trick of using a lint roller to get glitter off of the floor?
SK: I didn’t, but I do now!
BP: Really? That’s been a game-changer for me. The lint rollers — if glitter is being used in any project, the lint roller comes out and you just use the tape lint roller.
SK: That’s a great idea. Any advice and hints for people who maybe are not so crafty and not so DIY-ish?
BP: Well, here’s the thing that I would say, and this is part of the reason why I really wanted to partner with Michaels. The stuff that you make doesn’t have to go on Pinterest or even Instagram. You don’t have to make stuff that looks perfect. It’s more about doing a thing with your hands and being creative and using that part of your brain and spending time with your friends or your family.
My best friend Emily and I, when we lived together in our 20s, we’d go to Michaels all the time and get all kinds of weird crafts, and try different stuff out. Some of the things were major fails but, so what? It was fun. And now with my kids, it’s a great way to have screen-free time where we’re doing a thing. And now that my daughters are getting older, you can always trick your kids into talking to you more if they’re doing something.
SK: Totally. Your kids are getting a little bit older now. You have a tween. So how are the holidays changing in your house with older kids?
BP: Well, we’ll see this year. So far the magic is still existing and Birdie is very excited about Christmas. She always is. Cricket’s 6 so she’s little. Birdie’s been actually really great about getting involved in charity work and stuff that we like to do especially around the holidays. I’m all about things that are appropriate for kids and things that they can handle — when you’re too little, it just can be a little tricky to actively participate.
SK: It’s nice to start to have the focus be on other people and not just what they want, even though I’m sure there are hot toys or things that they want. What’s on the list this year?
BP: I don’t know! I haven’t heard anything about anything that they want. Birdie really wants me to try to set up a meeting between her and her favorite YouTubers in England. I was like, “Well, okay. We’ll see about that.” That seems outrageous.
SK: That’s a big ask.
BP: That’s huge. Cricket legitimately, the other day, because I said, “Guys, what do you want for Christmas? Do you have any ideas?” Cricket was like, “Anything that you see on TV on Nickelodeon, I would take.” I’m like, “Okay. Well, very easy.”