October 29, 2015 11:25 AM

Christine Taylor admits she needs to take her time in the kitchen, especially when it comes to Thanksgiving.

“I spend days doing it,” Taylor, 44, told PEOPLE of her Thanksgiving prep at the Project A.L.S. Annual Gala in New York City on Wednesday. “Because I am the worst cook in real life, but if I have three days to do it, I’m good.”

Taylor and husband Ben Stiller have a busy time ahead with the holidays and Stiller’s 50th birthday on Nov. 30, and the actress and mom of two revealed Thanksgiving is a major focus for the family.

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“There are plans in the works!” she says. “I will say that Thanksgiving is always our biggest November event. It’s the one thing I host once a year and I cook, and we have a whole bunch of family and friends come.”

And what’s the trick to serving up a great spread? Says Taylor, “It’s all about butter and sugar and casseroles and pies” — but she also has a specialty that she swears by.

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“Oh gosh, there’s a crazy recipe in my family, this pineapple casserole,” Taylor said. “It sounds very weird, but it’s like bread and sugar and pineapple and butter and it could be almost dessert-ish, but when you put it with turkey, and as a side, it’s delicious!”

Taylor and Stiller have two children: daughter Ella, 13, and son Quinlin, 10, and the two parents do what they can to teach their kids about things they’re passionate about — in particular, Project A.L.S., which Taylor sits on the board of directors for.

“You know, they’re getting to that age and they understand. They understand what it is, and now people in our lives have been affected by it, and they get it,” Taylor said. “I feel like it’s going to be soon that they’re going to come to this [event] and they’re going to really get a grasp of what it is. And I just keep thinking that there are such great things on the horizon.”

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“It’s tough with kids cause you don’t want to say, ‘Hey, you know, here’s the reality of the world,’ you want them to enjoy their innocence and youth,” Stiller said. “But [the founder] Jenifer [Estess]’s nieces and nephews and all of her relatives, they have come together over the years and I think it’s a very positive, positive thing, so I’m happy. My kids are very supportive of it.”

That being said, Stiller maintains his kids don’t label him a “cool dad.”

“God no. I’m a dad!” he said. “I don’t know if ‘cool’ and ‘dad’ ever really go together out of your child’s mouth. Like other people say ‘cool dad’ but with kids, they never say ‘Hey, here’s my cool dad!’ But that’s what being a dad is. I’m a happy dad.”

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—Aurelie Corinthios

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