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Mariah Carey's Recipe for the Perfect Bath: 'You Must Be Aware of This, Darling' (Exclusive)

The Christmas Queen, now on a national tour, survives the holidays — and every season, all year long, really — by taking one of her famous soaks. She's sharing how she does it.

<p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/ninomunoz/">Nino Munoz</a></p> Mariah Carey for PEOPLE

Nino Munoz

Mariah Carey for PEOPLE

Mariah Carey was about to perform her "Merry Christmas One and All!" concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

It's mid-November, and a cold front has lent a slight chill to the air, giving just enough permission for the sold-out stadium filled with Carey’s fans, known as Lambs, to don their gay apparel. Which is to say, thousands of Lambs are bundled up in various combinations of Christmas beanies, glowing Christmas-tree-bulb necklaces, Christmas sweaters and Mariah Carey-branded sweaters and sweatshirts. (Still Christmas-themed.)

Carey is the Queen of Christmas, after all. For years fans have said as much. She proclaims, “It’s…Time!” every year on Nov. 1, turning the seasonal colors from orange and black to red and green. She then presses play on her mega hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” — her “love song for the holiday” — placing it back in our heads as a jingly, jangly, joyful earworm. For Lambs the holiday anthem not only feels like Christmas, it’s a call to action. It’s a hymn. And on this night they are here to worship.

Related: How Mariah Carey Is Winning Christmas Again: Prayer, Baths, Writing New Music and 'Not Reading Anything About Me' (Exclusive)

Last year be damned. It was right around this time in 2022 that, in a move the Lambs found collectively dour (one termed it more specifically a “hate crime”), the Federal Trademark Board formally denied Carey the title of Queen of Christmas. Looking out at the crowd, I am not sure even the government could deny the palpable, unanimous opinion: Mariah Carey is the Queen of this season. And, if not of Christmas, then perhaps, well, let’s just say Mariah Carey is the Queen of All Things Festive.

“All I want for Christmas is you, Mariah!” a fan screamed next to me, Carey’s wide smile and the words “It’s Time!” spread across his chest. “She saves my Christmas,” he says to his friend sitting next to him. “Every year.”

<p>Kevin Mazur/WireImage for MC</p> Mariah Carey performs in Highland, California in November 2023

Kevin Mazur/WireImage for MC

Mariah Carey performs in Highland, California in November 2023

Related: How Mariah Carey Stays 'Unbothered': 'I Try to Be Bothered When I'm by Myself, Not in Front of the World' (Exclusive) 

A week earlier, Carey is in a photo studio across town. Sitting down for this interview, she's in great spirits. “I've been looking forward to this Christmas for, like, the whole year," she says. "Since last year — because last year wasn't the greatest. I'm thankful for them all, but it wasn't my most fun version of Christmas ever.”

She has her way of dealing, she says. “I would say it's writing. It's prayer. It's like these little things that can take you from possibly being in a really bad mood to just being in a better place immediately. And just really being thankful for all scenarios, all the moments that come our way. I don’t read anything written about me. That’s one of my coping mechanisms. It's taking a bath.”

<p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/ninomunoz/" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1">Nino Munoz</a></p> Mariah Carey for PEOPLE

Nino Munoz

Mariah Carey for PEOPLE

Related: Mariah Carey Unveils Her Barbie, Just in Time for Christmas: 'This Is So Cute!' (Exclusive)

Carey’s bath game is legendary. She got in the bath on her 2002 episode of MTV Cribs (albeit in a bodysuit). Jimmy Kimmel interviewed her while the two soaked together in a bathtub. I’ve interviewed her, via phone, twice while she was in the water. The woman knows how to soak.

“If someone is kind enough to say ‘OK, I know you're probably going to want to get inside and go in the bath, so I’ll run it for you.’ Well... Things can go wrong. “They put in too many bubbles. That gets a little bit out of control because then you can't just lay back without getting bubbles all over you.”

Therefore, she’s not so much into bubbles. “I prefer the bath salts, and those can really be good, especially if you're a little sore or whatever, you can just soak in bath salts. My latest favorite are the orange ones. They’re really good. Then there's the lavender ones that are really relaxing.” She recommends a good amount of bath salts. “Not the whole jug. And then some bath oils.”

<p><a href="https://www.instagram.com/ninomunoz/" data-component="link" data-source="inlineLink" data-type="externalLink" data-ordinal="1">Nino Munoz</a></p> Mariah Carey for PEOPLE

Nino Munoz

Mariah Carey for PEOPLE

Keep your phone close by, she advises.

“Everybody gets mad at me when they talk to me and I'm in the bath,” she says. “They’re like, ‘It’s a little boomy where you are. What are you doing?’ But I've been like that since I was little.”

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