By Thailan Pham
Updated November 16, 2011 01:00 PM
Gabrielle Revere

When it comes to the holidays, Melissa Joan Hart has a tacky secret she’s willing to share!

“It just popped in my head that I wanted to do something really silly,” the Melissa & Joey star, 35, told PEOPLE of her tacky sweater competition, which pits families against one another for top honors.

“People got very, very creative,” said Hart, mom to sons Mason, 5, and Brady. “But my favorite thing to do was to go on eBay!”

On the receiving end of Hart’s online shopping frenzy? Husband Mark Wilkerson, 34. “Every night I d have 30 emails of links to different sweaters she thought were ridiculous to look at,” he said.

“Last year I made sweaters for my whole family,” Hart’s neighbor Line Blanco told PEOPLE of her brood’s festive getups. “I superglued my patootie off! We had white sweatshirts with battery pack lights, glitter, and fluffy balls glue gunned all over them.”

And when it came to hunting for appropriately tacky decorations and hor d oeuvres, the actress didn’t miss a detail. “We threw up a white Christmas tree and I got a cardboard cut out of Santa,” she explained. On the snack table? Cheese logs, fruitcake, pigs in blankets and eggnog.

This is far a cry from her mother’s fancy Christmas parties she attended through the years. “She’d host a beautiful party with our good china and a feast,” Hart said, prompting her to create her “un-classy” tradition for family and friends in Westport, Conn.

As for this year’s tacky ensemble, the actress opted for a Grinch-inspired sweater dress that she bargained for online. “I wanted to sass it up a little,” Hart added. “But there s some horrendous stuff out there, so you ve got to be careful!”