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Carmelo & La La Anthony Christmas in New York

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For NBA star Carmelo Anthony and his wife, La La, there’s plenty to love about the holidays: the food, the gifts and all the trimmings (yes, the 6’8″ Melo is in charge of placing the star atop the tree). Their least favorite part? Celebrating on the road. “I’ve only been home,” says Carmelo, “for one Christmas [in the last] nine years [or so].”

Which makes this year a slam dunk for the two New York City natives who, since Carmelo’s trade in February to the New York Knicks, are thrilled to enjoy the city again—and to share it with their 4-year-old son Kiyan. “Being our first one here—for him, it’ll be special,” says Carmelo, 27. Adds La La, 32: “There’s nothing like Christmas in New York.”

After the family’s stressful move from Denver (documented on the VH1 reality show La La’s Full Court Life), the Anthonys, who wed last year, have settled into their dream home—a lavish duplex in the heart of Manhattan, just a cab ride from Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Spectacular, Lord & Taylor’s holiday windows and a quick bite at famed restaurant Serendipity. Another perk? “We’re more accessible to our family,” says La La, who is looking forward to a potluck dinner with her relatives and is hunting for Green Lantern or Batman ornaments for her superhero-loving son. “We love decorating. We make it fun.”

While apartment living means their tree will be smaller than usual, that’s about the only thing getting downsized this year. Says Carmelo: “Christmas will be bigger and better in New York.”

NEW YORK MUST-SEES

Carmelo and La La can’t wait to take Kiyan to…

Rockefeller Center

“Seeing the Christmas tree is a memory I’ve kept,” says La La of the six-story-plus attraction. “I would love for him to experience that as well.”

Wollman Rink

“I would love to take Kiyan ice-skating,” says La La. “It would definitely be fun for him. I just hope it doesn’t get too cold!”

Fifth Avenue

With lavish window displays at stores like Lord & Taylor and Saks, “I just love walking up and down Fifth,” says La La. “It’s filled with bustling crowds and puts you in the holiday spirit.”

COCOA 2 WAYS

FRRROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE

Serves 2 (makes about 4 cups)

1/3 cup evaporated instant dry milk

1/3 cup sugar

4 tbsp. cocoa

1 cup milk

3 cups ice

¼ cup whipped cream

2 tsp. shaved chocolate curls

1. Stir dry milk, sugar and cocoa in a small bowl until completely mixed.

2. Add ingredients to blender in the following order: milk, then dry mix, then ice.

3. Blend for 20 to 30 seconds until smooth and daiquiri-like in texture.

4. Pour into a large glass and top with whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

SERENDIPITOUS HOT CHOCOLATE

Serves 1

1 cup hot milk

2 tbsp. sugar

4 tsp. unsweetened cocoa

¼ tsp. vanilla extract

A dash of salt

¼ cup whipped cream

1 tsp. shaved chocolate curls

¼ tsp. grated orange rind

A dash of cinnamon

1. Combine milk, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and salt in blender, leaving top slightly unsealed to prevent hot steam from forming. Blend on high for 30 seconds.

2. Pour into a tall mug and top with whipped cream; sprinkle with chocolate curls, orange rind and cinnamon.