As the holiday season descends upon us, First Lady Michelle Obama reveals how she preps the White House for the celebratory months ahead.

In a recent interview with Ladies’ Home Journal, Mrs. Obama, who appears on the cover of the magazine’s December/January 2014 issue, says that what is most important to her when preparing the White House for the holiday season is maintaining a feeling of acceptance and openness to visitors.

“I hope that it’s a legacy of inclusion. Congress comes and important famous people come. But I’m also thinking about a little kid from Kansas who is able to make the trip to see the house. We have a reception almost twice a day, every day, until December 21,” the First Lady spills.

Mrs. Obama adds that all the tours and receptions are complete with eggnog and holiday sweets and cookies, and “the house smells incredible for an entire month.”

The First Lady also revealed that, unlike the masses of people who turn on the Christmas music the second they are done with their Thanksgiving turkey dinners, the Obama’s don’t start to play holiday music until they decorate the Christmas tree.

“We’ll have hot chocolate, light a fire, no matter what the weather is, get out a basket of decorations and then I’ll put on the first holiday music of the season. I have a phenomenal playlist that includes, of course, A Charlie Brown Christmas, as well as James Taylor, Mariah Carey, Boys II Men and Nat King Cole.”

In addition to the trimming of the tree, Mrs. Obama says that baking cookies is also a First Family tradition, and admits that her daughters, Malia and Sasha enjoy taking their friends to the kitchen to bake.

Other holiday duties as First Lady include the annual reading of Twas A Night Before Christmas at the Children’s National Medical Center and presenting a theme for the White House holiday decorations – in 2012, the theme was ‘Joy to All’ and paid tribute to members of the Armed Forces.

Mrs. Obama has also brought some of her own family traditions to the White House. Every year she hosts a family talent show, something she did as a child with her family.

“Our extended family was so large, people couldn’t really afford to buy gifts for everyone. So a couple of my aunts would go out and purchase small gifts. They would put them in a basket and in order to get a gift you had to perform. You could tell a joke, read a poem, do a backflip – anything counted. It’s a tradition that we’ve carried on today. I’ve hula-hooped, done a dog trick with Bo and read poems. The kids will sing or put on plays. The President and some of the other dads will get together and do a song,” Mrs. Obama says.

Every Christmas, the White House supports Toys For Tots, something Mrs. Obama says the entire White House staff joins in on and “gets inspired by.”

The White House theme for the 2013 holiday season has yet to be announced, though it is to be expected sometime following Thanksgiving Nov. 28.

Michelle Obama’s cover issue of Ladies’ Home Journal will be released Nov. 26.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong