Let the Christmas countdown begin!
“The songs just put you in a great spirit and I think the audience feels the same way,” Lachey, 44, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “It’s why we love to do stuff like this around the holidays. It just puts us in a great spirit and gets you ready for a very special time of year.”
Lachey, his brother Drew, Jeff Timmons and Justin Jeffre toured last year during the holiday months in support of their second Christmas album, Let It Snow. They’ll perform songs from the new Yuletide collection this time around, along with classic 98 Degrees favorites.
Lachey’s top Christmas tunes? “Let It Snow,” “O Holy Night,” and especially, “Mary Did You Know.”
“It’s always been one of my favorites, which is why I campaigned to have it on there,” he says, referring to their latest Christmas album. “There’s so many good ones. What was fun about doing a tour like that [last year] is I thought I’d be kind of sick of Christmas before I got to Christmas, but I never found myself feeling that way.”
That’s especially beneficial, since the singer’s wife Vanessa kicks off the holiday season before Halloween comes around. “Vanessa will literally put on holiday music starting early October,” Lachey admits. “We’ve listened to literally everything that’s possibly released during a holiday season by the time it’s all said and done, but she gives a slight edge to Nick Lachey and 98 Degrees’ music.”
A fellow musician also helped the dad of Camden, 5, Brooklyn, 3, and Phoenix, 16 months, embrace the merry and bright all year round.
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“We toured with Ryan Cabrera a couple years ago and he was in his dressing room in the middle of summer listening to Christmas music,” Lachey recalls. “I’m like, ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ He’s like, ‘Man, it just puts me in a good mood. It’s just feel good music. Why wait until after Thanksgiving? Let’s get it started earlier and be in that good frame of mind for a little longer.’ ”
Between shows on the 36-date tour, Lachey — who will perform with 98 Degrees on Monday’s Miss USA competition — looks forward to decorating the house and taking the kids to see Santa Claus.
“The picture with Santa is always a fiasco,” the former Dancing With the Stars contestant says. “Which kid’s gonna scream their face off and which kid is going to smile? It’s almost disappointing if all three kids are smiling quietly, patiently sitting on Santa’s lap. You want at least one of them to kind of lose their mind. That’s become a fun little tradition.”
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Lachey also hopes that the Christmas tour will become a tradition of its own, allowing him to form holiday memories with his bandmates.
“We’ve only done one of these so we haven’t really established traditions yet,” Lachey says, “but hopefully 10 years from now after we’ve done 10 in a row, we’ll have good traditions to report.”
Presale tickets for the 98 Degrees at Christmas tour, which runs through Dec. 21, go on sale Friday.