12/03/2004 at 01:00 AM EST
Talk about getting a jump on things. At country singer Julie Roberts's Nashville condo, where she lives with her mom, Sandra, and younger sister Lorie, Christmas kicks off even before the Thanksgiving turkey has gotten cold. "We always put up the tree immediately after Thanksgiving dinner," says Julie, 25, who scored a Top 20 country hit with her debut single "Break Down Here." "When we were little, Mama would change out of her cooking clothes into a Christmas sweater or sweatshirt. It was so exciting." The tree features decorations Julie, Lorie and their older sister Marie Johnson made when they were growing up in Lancaster, S.C. "The ornaments aren't that cute, but I like remembering making them and how proud I was at the time," explains Julie. At dawn on the day after Thanksgiving the Roberts women go shopping at CoolSprings Galleria in Franklin, Tenn. "We clip coupons and get the deals," says Sandra. "Julie loves deals!" While sifts matter (Julie's hoping for an iPod), come Christmas Day the focus is on food. Sandra, a divorced accountant, oversees a spread that includes turkey, ham, sweet potato casserole, buttermilk salad and fresh biscuits. "We don' t do anything extravagant," says Julie, a former secretary. "We just spend time with each other. Then we get up early the next morning and hit the sales."