Nicole & Joel Play Santa

12/22/2007 at 07:50 PM EST

Nicole & Joel Play Santa
Jeff Vespa/Wireimage

Joel Madden

Joel Madden

With their baby due in January, Nicole Richie and Joel Madden got an early taste of parenthood by treating nearly 200 kids to an early holiday extravaganza.

"We really wanted to give these kids a really wonderful and special Christmas," Richie says about a party thrown by the couple's Richie-Madden Children's Foundation at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on Saturday. "It's our favorite holiday."

Playing Mr. and Mrs. Claus, they helped give away new pairs of Stride-Rite shoes and Cloud B Cuddle Cub teddy bears to children from Beyond Shelter, a program helping families combat homelessness and poverty. After a round of face-painting, balloon animals, and hot dogs, the kids rallied around Richie, who got the day's loudest cheer when she sent out the tease, "Who wants to throw pies in Joel's face?"

"It's fun for us to be with a bunch of kids who are having a good time," an unfazed Madden said later. "They make you smile. Hopefully for today they're feeling special." The foundation is "really important to me [and] it's really important to Nicole," he added. "We're just really happy to be a part of the community and celebrating with these kids who haven't been as fortunate as us."

Breaking from the grandeur of her childhood days when she had "a Santa Claus and a reindeer" at her house every year, Richie is looking forward to a quieter yuletide experience as a mom-to-be. "It'll be very boring," she joked. Fresh from visiting his sister who recently gave birth to his "adorable" new niece Clementine, Madden echoed her sentiments: "It'll be very low-key," he said, "at home with the family."

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