Lea Michele Talks Christmas Traditions With Husband Zandy Reich (Exclusive)

Lea Michele in march 2019

With a new festive movie and Christmas album, Michele says she is the 'queen of Christmas' this year.

“I’m taking over Christmas!” declared Lea Michele while hanging with ET on the top of New York City's Empire State Building, where she lit the holiday lights on Tuesday.

And, she wasn’t kidding. as the 33-year-old actress prepares for Christmas with her husband, Zandy Reich, she has reason to get extra festive this year given that she’s starring in a holiday movie, ABC’s Same Time, Next Christmas, and just released her Christmas album, Christmas in the City.

Plus, it’s her first Christmas as a “Mrs,” having tied the knot with Reich in March, so no doubt watching her movie and listening to her new tunes will become part of the couple’s holiday traditions.

“Right now, we haven’t got a lot of new traditions but this will be our third or fourth year where we're all together with my mom and dad,” Michele told ET’s Keltie Knight. “We do Christmas on the East Coast, we cook, we watch movies, my mom makes us wear ugly sweaters, we're in pajamas all day, we sit outside by the fire … it’s just cozy.”

“I just told my husband what I want for Christmas, which I’ve never done before and he is such a great gift giver,” Michele continued. “Last year, he gave me a wedding survival guide, which was the cutest thing ever. He made this beautiful box [with] labels and photos and it was all of my favorite things to help me get through wedding planning -- a gift certificate to a massage, a membership to this yoga place I love, a Sugarfish [restaurant] certificate. How cute is that?”

Michele also shared that it's Reich and her newfound marital bliss that inspired her latest projects.

“I got married this year, and it was just a really wonderful, happy time and I thought the best way to encapsulate this amazing year would be to put out a Christmas album, which for me, just always reminds me of my favorite time of year -- being with my family, always so happy,” she explained. “And, I wanted to have the album be about New York, which is my hometown, even though I live on the West Coast now. The album's a little bit of a love letter to New York City, which is where I always spend the holidays.”

Michele selected her favorite Christmas songs to record for the album but was careful not to choose too many tracks that she had already sung during holiday episodes of Glee. The record also features fun collaborations, including one with her former Glee co-star, Darren Criss.

As a native of the Big Apple, Michele had to pinch herself hearing one of the album’s tracks, “Christmas in New York,” provide the soundtrack while she performed the honorable task of switching on the holiday lights at the Empire State Building.

“It's so surreal and just so crazy,” she said. “Being up here right now, I could never [have imagined] in my wildest dreams [while] creating this album. This is everything and anything I could have hoped we would have been able to do.”

Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images
Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Same Time, Next Christmas premieres on ABC on Thursday and the actress recalled shooting it in Hawaii over the summer.

“We filmed it in August for the whole month on the North Shore,” she said. “It was so awesome … except it was very hard wearing a lot of makeup and having your hair fully done and not being able to dive in the ocean. But it was so gorgeous and the whole cast was amazing. We had way more fun than we should have.”

Speaking of having fun with castmates, Michele remains close with many of her fellow Glee alums, admitting that their bond is hard to put into words. She also still loves the series, having retreated to her room to watch the Thanksgiving episode on Thursday.

“I watched Glee on Thanksgiving Day just by myself in a room,” Michele shared. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, we did a Thanksgiving episode. I really want to watch that.’ It was in between courses [and] I was in a bedroom with my cat. Family was outside and I was watching.”

“It's really unbelievable,” she added about her ongoing friendships with her co-stars. “No one will ever know what that experience was like, except for the people in the choir room together. It's a bond that unexplainable, that will bond us for the rest of our lives.”

In the lead up to Christmas,, Michele also has a limited run of holiday performances at The New York Society for Ethical Culture on December 19, 20 and 21, with tickets are available at leamichele.com.

See more on Michele and how other stars celebrate the holidays below.