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The 42-year-old actress, who rose to fame in the 1999 classic “Varsity Blues” and currently stars on ABC’s “Splitting Up Together,” considers the month of December one of her favorite moments of the year.
Holiday tunes from Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Mariah Carey are on constant rotation in her household.
“It’s just one of the times that I just unabashedly allow myself to go for it,” she told “Good Morning America."
Larter said her husband has an annual habit of claiming he wants "nothing" for Christmas.
”There’s a "Nothing! Nothing" grinch in our house -- although he ends up coming around," she joked, referencing her husband, comedian and actor Hayes MacArthur.
As a New Jersey native, she has always embraced the colder time of year and her family traditions.
One of her favorite games to play with her two children, Theodore and Vivienne, is one she played growing up, “Santa Mouse.”
“We actually have this little mouse,” she said. “On Christmas Eve, Santa Mouse arrives. You either go to a church or you take a walk or something like that, and when you leave, you leave out a little bit of cheese for Santa Mouse.”
“When you come back that night, on Christmas Eve, Santa Mouse has hidden a pair of pajamas somewhere in the house, so the kids run in searching for them.”
The game is based on author Michael Brown's 1966 children's book "Santa Mouse."
Larter said she grew up running into her home, looking for the pajamas, just as her kids do now. And she loves that the game also leads to an adorable family photo op on Christmas morning!
Elf on the Shelf is also big with her kids.
Another holiday aspect she loves is gifting. “I love buying people presents, so that’s the joy of it for me,” she said.
The actress partnered with Marshalls this season, as she’s a huge fan of the off-price department store’s affordable offerings.
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I’ve been loving shopping @Marshalls for the holidays this year. I stopped by last week and found so many surprises. My dad is always so hard to shop for so it was great to explore the store and get some inspiration. I was leaning toward a set of cashmere socks or some camping gear from one of his favorite brands but I won’t give away the secret here! And, I couldn’t resist grabbing this cocktail shaker for myself! Who says you can’t treat yourself while you’re checking items off your gift list ?? Are you planning to kick off your shopping this Friday? #MarshallsSurprise #ad
“I grew up going to Marshalls, and I always loved shopping there with my mom,” she said. “Marshalls is like going on a little bit of a treasure hunt. You get to go in and find all these surprising, amazing gifts at great prices.”
"They restock every week going into the holidays, so there’s new things for kids,” she added.
“It kind of makes shopping a little bit more fun, and you can find all those special things for the people on your list," she said.
This Christmas, Larter is also excited to finally move into her new home in California, which her family has been renovating for about two years.
“We did a massive remodel. It was supposed to be a little one, and it kept growing and growing,” she said. “I’m just so excited to be able to spend some of the holidays there.”
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Sneak peek into the kitchen in my treehouse! We are a few months out! Can’t wait for my friends and family to hang in the nook underneath the stairs while I’m cooking. I’m already dreaming of the dishes... It’s all in the details. #remodelmadness #walnutkitchen #kitchenrevelry
For New Years Eve, she's opting for a more low-key, relaxed night.
"We're going to put down the projector — we don’t have any furniture yet, so I’m going to throw some beanbags on the floor and watch the east coast feed and just sit there with my kids and my husband and have a great bottle of wine.”
“I want to pop some popcorn and just be together in our new home. I’m super excited about that — and to play games!” she added.
“It’s just a time of reflecting and feeling very thankful for my family, the health of my family, and the spirit my children have,” she said of the holiday season. “That’s just a time of the year that I love.”