Kelsea Ballerini is feeling especially thankful for her girl gang this holiday season.
The “Miss Me More” singer opened up about the fellow stars she leans on for support — both in country and beyond — and how she’s all about “women empowering women.”
“In country specifically, Hillary Scott has always been someone I’ve been able to call and ask questions to and cry to but also celebrate with,” Ballerini, 25, told PEOPLE ahead of hosting a Friendsgiving dinner in partnership with Bumble BFF in Austin on Nov. 9. “She’s really been a big sister to me in country. I love Carly Pearce — me and her have had a really good friendship the last few years, and I love seeing her rise all the time.”
“Outside of country, I love Halsey,” she continued. “I’ve known Halsey for a little bit. She’s just so smart and creative and cool to be around.”
When it comes to entertaining, Ballerini said she’s looked to friend Taylor Swift for tips.
“She always seems to have a photo booth,” Ballerini said. “I feel like everyone loves a good photo booth.”
So when Bumble BFF approached Ballerini with the idea about hosting their Friendsgiving, in which select users were flown to Austin with their BFFs for the inaugural “Attitude is Gratitude” weekend, she said it was a no-brainer.
“I always love to do stuff that’s different and out of my wheelhouse,” she said of the event, which featured a cocktail hour and three-course dinner. “I’ve never hosted a Friendsgiving before so it’s fun to be doing something new.”
“Also, I really feel like in the last year I’ve learned the importance of females sticking up for other females and really empowering each other and learning that we really are stronger when we’re together,” she added.
Ballerini was able to bring her longtime BFF, Christina Allen, along with her to the dinner.
“I met Christina the year that I moved to Nashville and our moms are best friends too,” she said. “She’s like my sister, and we’ve walked through the last 10 years of our life together.”
As for her own Thanksgiving Day plans, Ballerini said she’ll be accomplishing another first — she and husband Morgan Evans will be hosting dinner at their house.
“I will be learning how to baste the turkey,” she said with a laugh. “Wish me luck!”
While the turkey is important, Ballerini thinks what comes after dinner is also key.
“The holidays, to me, are all about the times to wear the turkey pants and eat pumpkin pie,” she said. “The dessert table is where you will always find me around Thanksgiving.”
Ballerini said that luckily her husband is a “great cook,” though he likes to keep it “super healthy.”
“He actually just became vegetarian recently,” she said. “So he cooks a lot of healthy soups and salads. Honestly, whenever I’m home, I just make something else for myself — like chicken and steak and stuff.”
The couple tied the knot in December of 2017 and are now making plans to celebrate their one-year anniversary.
“We’re going to take a one-day trip,” she said. “We both have stuff on the day before and the day after so we’re just going to meet somewhere and pack it all into a day and have a date somewhere. It’s going to be cute!”
Of newlywed life, Ballerini said it’s been “awesome.”
“We’re both super busy,” she said. “He’s out on the road killing it for his first record [Things That We Drink To], and he’s been out promoting that. Every time we’re together, we have something to celebrate. We always carve out our time together and protect it. It’s a fun chapter.”
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“I obviously love opening up for some of my favorite artists but when you headline, you get to really create the mood and the atmosphere that people jump into for an hour and a half,” she said. “I’ve always loved production, and I’ve always loved getting those songs to translate with as many people as I can. I’m really excited.
When she’s not performing, Ballerini likes to take time to have fun with her band.
“Usually once a weekend, me and the band find a time where we either decide to go to a local bar or we’ll go set cornhole outside the bus or whatever,” she said. “The other two nights, I just take care of myself. I go to bed, watch a movie and I try to stay healthy.”