Andy Cohen really is one of the busiest men in show business. He's the host of "Watch What Happens Live!," executive producer of the "Real Housewives" franchise, author and dad of two, to name just a handful of his titles. So, for the holiday season, we weren't surprised to hear that he hopes to spend it "laying low" in New York City — that is, until the New Year's Eve preparations begin.
"[The holiday season] is just a month of excuses to hang out with friends, eat well, have a cocktail and really gear up for New Year's Eve," Cohen shared with Shop TODAY. "New Year's Eve for me, is my Super Bowl of the holidays."
He says that this year's New Year's event is "going to be a party" (don't worry, he's not letting last year's events stop him from celebrating to the fullest). But before then, he plans on making the days leading up to Christmas and Hanukkah feel festive for his kids, Ben, 3, and Lucy, 7 months.
"We'll bake cookies, we light a lot of fires," he says. "I'm happy to say I have a wood-burning fireplace in New York City, and we light a lot of fires, and listen to Mariah Carey, light the menorah. We definitely are a big Hanukkah family, at least understanding what that is now. And I just love that it's so festive. It's not really a religious month for me, but it's a very festive month."
Of course, it's also the season for gifting, and while Cohen is remaining tight-lipped about what he got for the housewives this year, he did reveal to us which of the ladies is the best gift giver.
"I would say the housewife that gives the best gift is Kyle Richards," Cohen says. "She just, she overdoes it, as you can imagine — Beverly Hills, what can I say? And I have to say, all the Beverly Hills housewives, all the housewives in general, they love labels. And they've given some really wild labels to Ben and Lucy. I mean, they have more labels than I do!" He said gifts from the famous ladies have ranged from items from Gucci to Fendi and more. (Meaning, his kids have better closets than we do! Though, we're not entirely shocked by that.)
As for his kids, he says that Ben will be getting a big Thomas the Tank Engine train set, ("it's still all about trains and cars for him,") and for Lucy, he'll keep things simple. "I have a little pro tip for everyone with a baby: They don't know it's the holidays!" Cohen says. "You can hand them a piece of paper and they're like, 'Oh, it's a piece of paper!' So the answer is, I mean, I'll give her a couple of things. But, I don't go crazy on a baby that doesn't know what's going on. Is that wrong?"
Below, we asked Cohen to share some of his must-haves for the holiday season, from the crowd-pleasing gift that he loves to the parenting product he got Khloe Kardashian that he says is a "lifesaver."
Shopping Diaries: Andy Cohen
"I'm super busy, I have seven jobs, I'm a single parent of two kids, so I don't have a lot of time. Period," says Cohen, who is currently a partner with Amazon. "I can be a little scattered, but that doesn't take away from the fact that I'm kind of a perfectionist, and I like everything the way I like it, especially at the holidays, when I'm entertaining a lot and I have a lot of friends stopping by. So Alexa really helps me get to a place that I need to get to, get to the vibe that I need to get to." He has all of his devices in his home connected to his Amazon device, from his lights and music to his disco ball, and he created a custom Alexa Routine, so all he has to do is say "Alexa, let's get lit," to set the vibe, he said.
"I have a lot of gifts that I need to buy for my staff or for all the housewives," Cohen says. "And for a few years, I took an idea that a late friend of mine named Sandy Gallin, who's no longer with us, he used to buy for all of his friends, and it's not expensive. We would all get a box at Christmas time with personalized notepads that you can use all year long. Everybody loves to have their name on things, but people don't usually buy it for themselves, and it's really very cool to have a big set of pads. I bought them for the housewives for several years, and for my staff, and it's great. Everyone uses them, and they're just great to have around. Super utility gift, but it's something special and personal as well."
When it comes to Cohen's favorite holiday traditions that he's created with his kids, it's all about the classics, including "Charlie Brown Christmas," and, of course, the Grinch. "I forgot, because I have such sentimentality attached to the 'Charlie Brown Christmas' specials, how slow they are," Cohen says. "And last year, I put on the Christmas special for Ben, and he was like, bored. Now that he can understand it more, he is really engaged and he wants to watch the whole thing. He's sucked in now. So he's gotten to a level where he's understanding and appreciating things in a way that is new, so I'm excited about that. Same with the Grinch. He loves the Grinch book. And I've been reading him the Grinch book some mornings."
"I think for any new parent, or a parent with a baby or a parent who is expecting a baby, the gift that they absolutely must, must get — and it's it's a little pricey, but you can go in on it with a group of people — is called a Doona," Cohen says. "Doona is the company, and it's a carseat that transitions into a stroller. And it is a lifesaver for airplanes or malls, when you're driving and you need to take the baby ... but you can put baby in the Doona in the car and then you make it into a stroller very easily, you press two buttons and it turns into a stroller. And then you've got the next leg of your trip. It's a lifesaver. I found out about it from Khloe Kardashian. When Ben was born, she sent me one and I never looked back. I've given so many of them. And it's it's really a lifesaver for a new parent."