Lin-Manuel Miranda's '12 Days of Christmas Favorites' will get you in the holiday spirit (exclusive)

Lin-Manuel Miranda is all about decking the halls — ideally with some locally-sourced holly.

The multitalented "Hamilton" playwright is a big proponent of shopping small this holiday season, which is why he's working with American Express to encourage customers to visit locally-owned neighborhood establishments as they check items off their gift lists.

As we approach the 12-day countdown to Christmas, AOL's Jennifer Kline spoke with Miranda about some of his personal favorites, from the perfect spot for a winter brunch to the hilarious video of his kids he won't share on Twitter.

AOL: You seem like you'd be a very good gift-giver. What's your favorite present that you've ever given?

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA:  I got my wife a piece of art from her alma mater. Her alma mater is MIT, and there was a gallery of really close-up images of two nerve cells reaching for each other. My wife is a scientist, so that was very special for her.

Favorite local brunch spot in Washington Heights? [Miranda grew up in the upper Manhattan neighborhood and still lives in the area today.]

I have a couple of go-to's. Saggio on 181st St. is really great. That's a good brunch spot. I also love Malecon on 175 St. and Broadway.

Favorite video you took of your kids this year?

Oh, that's really easy. Yesterday I was working on a song for the closing credits "In The Heights." I was at the piano, and my son creeped into the shot and started doing this crazy dance party that totally usurped whatever I was writing. You ever see the video of the guy who's doing the news conference video and his daughter comes marching in? It was like that, but there was no one to usher him away.

That's not on your Twitter, right? You didn't tweet that.

No, because his face is very visible. I never show my kids' faces on Twitter.

PHOTOS: Lin-Manuel Miranda through the years

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Lin-Manuel Miranda: Then and now
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Lin-Manuel Miranda: Then and now
Lin-Manuel Miranda, 2007 (Photo by Mychal Watts/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
Andy Blankenbuehler, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Thomas Kail in 2007 (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 27: ***EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE*** Composer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda (R) poses with Secretary of State Elect Hillary Rodham Clinton while attending the hit musical 'In The Heights' on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theater on December 27, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 18: American actor and Tony Award winning composer, and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda is honored for 'In The Heights' at City Hall Chambers on December 18, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 18: American actor and Tony Award winning composer, and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda is honored for 'In The Heights' at City Hall Chambers on December 18, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images)
Lin-Manuel Miranda attends Johnnie Walker Blue Label is In the Heights with Jorge Posada at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on November 19, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 27: Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Elect Hillary Rodham Clinton chat with composer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda (L) backstage during their visit to the hit musical 'In The Heights' on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theater on December 27, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - JUNE 17: (U.S. TABS OUT) 'In The Heights' creator Lin-Manuel Miranda visits MTV's 'Mi TRL' on June 17, 2008 at the MTV studios in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Actor Lin-Manuel Miranda visits MTV's 'Mi TRL' on June 17, 2008 at the MTV studios in Times Square in New York City. (Photo by Jason Kempin/WireImage)
Lin-Manuel Miranda attends 'Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project Eighth Annual Spring Picnic' at Fort Tryon Park in New York City. (Photo by Lars Niki/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JUNE 04: Tony award winning actor/writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda attends a portrait unveiling at Tony's Di Napoli on June 4, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images)
Actor Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the 62nd Annual Tony Awards on June 15, 2008 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
Actor Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the 11th annual HOLA Awards at The Players Club on October 18, 2010 in New York.
NEW YORK - APRIL 29: Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the 20th Anniversary of The Hispanic Federation Gala at the Waldorf Astoria - Grand Ballroom on April 29, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images)
Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the opening night of 'the Book of Mormon' on Broadway at Eugene O'Neill Theatre on March 24, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
Lin-Manuel Miranda attending the Broadway Opening Night Performance of 'Annie' at the Palace Theatre in New York City on 11/08/2012 (Photo by Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 17: Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the 2013 New York Stage And Film Gala at The Plaza Hotel on November 17, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Lin-Manuel Miranda attends Jennifer Ashley Tepper's 'The Untold Stories Of Broadway' Book Launch Party at Sardi's on November 12, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 13: Composer Lin-Manuel Miranda attends People En Espanol's 50 Most Beautiful 2013 at Marquee on May 13, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for People en Espanol)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 31: Lin-Manuel Miranda attends Miscast 2014 at Hammerstein Ballroom on March 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 16: Composer Lin-Manuel Miranda poses in the press room during the 2014 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 16, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 05: Lin-Manuel Miranda attends the Broadway Opening Night After Party for 'On Your Feet' at the Mariott Marquis Hotel on November 5, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0362 -- Pictured: (l-r) Composer-lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on November 6, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 14: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS) Selena Gomez and Lin-Manuel Miranda pose backstage at the hit musical 'Hamilton' on Broadway at The Richard Rogers Theater on October 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 24: Lin-Manuel Miranda is honored for his work in 'Hamilton' with a Sardi's Caricature at Sardi's on May 24, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - NOVEMBER 10: Lin-Manuel Miranda visits 'Extra' at Universal Studios Hollywood on November 10, 2016 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 551 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Lin-Manuel Miranda talks with host Seth Meyers during an interview on June 29, 2017 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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Favorite stocking stuffer?

You can't go wrong with chocolate in my house. It's my wife's favorite thing, and my kids', too.

Favorite "Star Wars" scene — other than the one you're supposedly in? [Miranda reportedly has a small role in "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," but all details have been tightly kept under wraps.]

In general? Oh, gosh.

Are you a big "Star Wars" fan?

I am a big "Star Wars" fan; that's why it's hard to choose. I think, honestly, it's in "Return of the Jedi," when Luke decides not to turn because "I am a Jedi like my father before me."

Good answer. Don't stress. I think that even if you'd ruminated on that question for 24 hours, you'd still pick the same scene.

Thank you.

Favorite charity to support this year?

We've been supporting the Hispanic Federation for several years now. We began working with them after Hurricane Maria. They kept boots on the ground there and set up an office in Puerto Rico, and they shifted from emergency disaster relief to creating a more sustainable Puerto Rico and working with local organizations on everything from health centers to solar power.

Favorite up-and-coming writer?

Can I pick a songwriter? There's a songwriter named Ali Dineen who has a new EP coming out. Her last EP knocked me flat and was one of my favorite things of that year. It's all the more special because I was her seventh-grade English teacher. She's become an incredible songwriter and I'm looking forward to her next batch of tunes.

Favorite Christmas song?

My favorite Christmas song is "Feliz Navidad." The original bilingual Christmas classic.

Favorite spot to grab a drink after a Broadway show?

There's that Restaurant Row on 46th St; I've been to most of the places there. I like the Brazilian place [Brazil Brazil], I like OrsoJoe Allen's is a classic Broadway spot with all the posters of Broadway flops over the years.

Favorite casting news of 2019?

Gosh, that's hard. I'm gonna use this as a shameless plug: Anthony Ramos is a f--king movie star in the "In the Heights" movie, and that'll come out in June 2020.

This last one is more of a stretch: Favorite teaser you can share about the Met Gala in 2020? [Miranda will co-host the annual event alongside Meryl Streep, Emma Stone and Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour.]

I will be the least-interestingly dressed person there. And my wife will look amazing. That's all I know.

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