Having just moved from L.A. to New York after wrapping the final season of Pretty Little Liars, the 26-year-old actress is excited to spend the holidays in the city. She’s already begun looking forward to her favorite part of the season: Christmas morning.
“I go to my grandma’s house, and she makes the most incredible meal. I’ve been doing it since the day I was born. She makes this incredible egg dish with tortillas and onions and vegetables and tomatoes and bakes it. It’s so, so good,” Benson says. “She makes these sticky buns. It’s my favorite thing to eat. And we really only eat them on Christmas Day. Everyone always looks forward to that meal, and I eat about seven or eight in one sitting.”
As for cooking holiday dishes herself, Benson keeps the recipes as elementary as possible … or just avoids it all together.
“I’m kind of a bad cook. I’ll do cookies and cakes,” she says. “I wouldn’t be trusted in the kitchen.”
The actress doesn’t, however, let being gastronomically-challenged stop her from inviting friends over for snacks and drinks and holiday traditions.
“It’s always fun to come up with creative holiday drinks. I can never make them. But hot toddies in the winter are so good. Hot chocolate, too,” she says. “I’ll watch Christmas movies like Home Alone and The Grinch. I watch it every single year, like over and over again. I love having people get together, playing games, just enjoying the holidays.”
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Another way Benson is embracing the holidays is by campaigning against child hunger, which affects one out of every six children in America. Benson partnered with Unilever’s #ShareAMeal campaign, which donates one meal to Feeding America for every like, comment or share that uses the hashtag.
“I’m obsessed with kids. It’s heartbreaking. I look at kids as the future of our generation, and the fact that some kids aren’t able to have meals with their families or get food, that limits them from other opportunities,” Benson says. “If you do a throwback picture with your family and tag #shareameal, it’s so easy to do. If people can do that, it will provide food for so many children in need. That’s what the holidays are for me. Giving to people.”
This isn’t the first time Benson has leveraged her massive social media presence – she has over 14.8 million Instagram followers – for positive causes. The actress routinely posts pictures of women who inspire her, telling PEOPLE, “I just think it’s cool to see other women in the industry and what they’re doing.”