Tiffani Thiessen Opens Up About Creating Her Own Holiday Decor and Her Kids Growing Up

From playing Kelly Kapowski and Valerie Malone to being a full-time entertainer, home chef and mom, Tiffani Thiessen knows how to do it all.

The Saved by the Bell alum, 45, has been crafting DIY projects and perfecting recipes in the kitchen since she could remember. And with the holidays rapidly approaching, she’s excited for her family to partake in more of her favorite pastimes.

“Holidays, from the moment Halloween starts and the whole rest of the year, is my favorite time of year,” Thiessen, who is partnering with Joann stores to help decorate her home for the holidays, tells PEOPLE. “It’s always about spending time together and it very much means crafting.”

“It means spending time in the kitchen — my daughter and I cook a lot together now that she’s a lot older,” the actress adds of Harper Renn, 9.

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Tiffani Thiessen

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Thiessen has two children — Harper and her 4-year-old little brother Holt Fisher — with actor husband Brady Smith, whom she wed in 2005.

“Holt is just — there’s sadly no baby left in that little guy. He is all dude now,” Thiessen jokes. “And Harper’s 9 now, so school’s a bigger deal. There’s lots more homework and testing now. Luckily no boy talk too much right now, thank God! I don’t know if I’m ready for that.”

With Thiessen hosting both Thanksgiving and Christmas at her Los Angeles home this year, she’s “upping [her] DIY,” especially since Smith’s family is flying in from Texas for the latter holiday.

From making her own Thanksgiving table décor to Christmas wreaths to ornaments, Thiessen is not one to shy away from adding her own personal touches, admitting she has around “15 hot glue guns in [her] house.”

Tiffani Thiessen

Speaking of her house, the former Beverly Hills, 90210 star describes the space as a “very old, traditional home.”

“A lot of brick, a lot of white — we have an old home, so our aesthetic is very traditional with a classic kind of modern sort of feel,” Thiessen says.

Though the actress wears many hats, she still finds it difficult to manage her time and make it work. When asked what her biggest challenge as a mother has been, she replies, “Balancing it all.”

Earlier this year, Thiessen and Smith, 47, released a children’s book together called You're Missing It!, a comedic “cautionary tale” of all the things a person could miss if their eyes are fixated on a screen. The idea spurred from a family policy of their own, where not only Thiessen and Smith monitor their children’s screen time, but also vice versa, so that each family member can be fully present in family gatherings.

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“When they’re at school, that’s when it’s all about mom stuff. I go to the gym, or I’m at work shooting or I’m doing my [phone calls] and emails and photo shoots,” the Alexa & Katie star tells PEOPLE. “Then when it’s time for kids, it’s no screen. This is when we connect and start making homemade crafts and spend time together without it.”

With her two children growing up, Thiessen hopes that of all things she and her husband have taught Harper and Holt, what they take away the most is to “just be kind.”

“I feel like sometimes we’re living in a very busy world where people get in a bubble and it can translate to being slightly selfish at times,” Thiessen says. “Especially this time of year, it’s all about kindness, and I just want my kids to be kind.”

She adds with a smile, “When I have teacher conferences and I hear teachers telling me, ‘You have the sweetest children,’ literally, that makes my day.”

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