Nick Cannon’s Rules for Christmas Shopping for Mariah Carey

Nick Cannon faces the unenviable responsibility every holiday season of having to find a Christmas gift for the woman with everything: Mariah Carey. It’s a small price to pay for getting to call one of the music industry’s most successful and desirable women his wife, but a stressful task nonetheless. Add to that the fact that Carey is a Christmas fanatic and is often associated with the holiday thanks to her hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” and, well, Cannon — host of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” and MTV2’s “Wild ’N Out” — has his work cut out for him every year. “My wife is the empress of Christmas,” Cannon said Saturday at Macy’s on State Street, where he took part in the lighting of the department store’s Great Tree with “American Idol” alum Lauren Alaina, and promoted his tie collection. “She is Mrs. Christmas. She puts the M.C. in Merry Christmas.” Here, Cannon breaks down the gift-buying process for the mother of his 2-year-old twins, from beginning to end: Start early: “I try to start out as far in advance as possible, and it still ends up being last minute. Something custom-made isn’t the way it’s supposed be, and I have to send it back or the font was wrong on the engraving. I have to start thinking about it at least six months beforehand, especially because we always do this thing where we try to top each other.” Play to win: “It’s gotten to the point where it’s just absurd. I’m running out of stuff to get her. I tried to buy a dolphin one year because we had a house in the Bahamas. Even if we had to keep it at an aquarium, how cool would that be? We just didn’t have a place to keep it, and then you have to have all these (documents) and go through a license process. I didn’t have time for all that. I can’t believe it when I think about it. It sounds ridiculous. That’s what happens when you try to top each other. ‘Bet you she would never guess I got her a dolphin. How’s she going to top that?’ ” Do your homework: “I listen to what she says, like, ‘Oh, I’d love to have this.’ The last good gift I got her was a chandelier. As grandiose and decadent as a chandelier sounds, it was the fact she didn’t ask for it. She would say, ‘I really want a chandelier,’ and this showed I was paying attention. I also ask around and talk to a few people who know her taste, just in case I need someone to blame: ‘Well, they said you would like this.’ ” Put thought into it: “She doesn’t need a gift from anyone. She can pretty much go buy whatever she wants. The more thoughtful it is, the better the reaction. I’ll put together a video of the year or a Christmas video and edit stuff together with music in the background. I had one of her favorite artists paint a picture of her. That type of stuff goes over pretty well.” Avoid jewelry: “I don’t buy my wife jewelry anymore because she’s Mariah Carey, and it’s kind of like she has all the jewelry in the world. Early on, I tried. I did pretty well with the wedding ring, but other than that I stay away from it. For one, it can break your pockets. You try to spend all this money on one piece of jewelry she never wears, like, ‘Where in the world are those earrings I pretty much mortgaged (the house on)?’ ” Hope for the best: “You want that reaction. Everybody is going to be like, ‘Wow, thanks.’ But you can always tell 15 minutes after they open it if they like it or not when your gift is buried somewhere.”