In her 20s Jenny McCarthy made her mark as the uninhibited cohost of MTV’s dating game show Singled Out and as a 1993 Playboy centerfold. Now 34 and a single mom, McCarthy is focusing on more wholesome fare—starring as Santa Claus‘s daughter in the ABC Family movie Santa Baby Dec. 10. The L.A.-based actress and author of three books on motherhood (she and her ex-husband, director John Asher, have a son, Evan, 4) has been dating actor Jim Carrey, 44, for the better part of a year. The two recently hightailed it to Italy to attend the Nov. 18 nuptials of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. McCarthy talks with PEOPLE’s Monica Rizzo about the wedding of the year, her “gorgeous” guy and being a mom.
Are you one of those people that goes all-out for Christmas?
I am over-the-top. I get the biggest tree on the lot. I go to Target and buy everything that’s there. [When I was a kid] our traditions were pretty horrible—we didn’t have the eggnog, bake cookies, sit around the fire kind of thing—because we didn’t have much money, so I love seeing my son experience [the holiday] the way it should be.
Has motherhood changed you?
What has happened is any type of narcissism has left the building. I don’t really worry about the latest pair of shoes that are out when I could be out raising money for my son’s school.
Rumor has it you’re dating a really cute guy named Jim …
He’s not cute—he’s hot! I was so p—ed at PEOPLE for not having him as one of the sexiest men of the year. I look at him and I’m like, “You are hotter than Brad Pitt.” And it’s not just because I’m in love with him. He’s so gorgeous, I can’t stand it.
How was it, seeing Tom and Katie tie the knot?
It was so beyond my expectation of a fairy-tale romantic wedding. It was perfect. I even looked at Jim and said, “Wow, they’re really beautiful and really happy together.” I couldn’t imagine ever topping a wedding like that except for me getting married on top of a pyramid in Egypt.
So when should we book our plane tickets to Egypt?
[laughing] A very, very, very long time from now.
What does a person give Tom and Katie as a wedding gift?
It’s a hard one. We’re still trying to figure it out. Maybe we’ll paint a painting because we both like to dabble. Maybe we’ll sculpt a vase. To do something handmade is a lot of fun. But for me, I just want cash. Green cash!