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Laura Yuen: How to switch up your holiday gift-giving this year

Laura Yuen, Star Tribune on

Published in Fashion Daily News

MINNEAPOLIS — Christmas shopping for my young boys typically starts weeks in advance with me acquiring small toys and books from Costco, then thoughtfully ordering a couple of bigger presents they've circled in catalogs. I start storing these gifts in a secret cache in my basement, much like a squirrel with her acorns. There is a method to my gathering.

Then on Christmas Eve my husband, suddenly stirred by the holiday spirit, heads to Target to buy supersized Nerf guns, building sets or whatever strikes his inner child. It is a thing of immense privilege to say we end up with too much.

The next morning our gremlin-children tear into their presents, shredding wrapping paper into confetti. Squeals ensue, but the high is short-lived. When the dust settles, it looks like our living room has vomited.

This season I'm trying something a mom friend of mine has done for years. It's called Want, Need, Wear, Read. There will be just four gifts, and these categories — something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read — are intended make sure that both the giving and taking retain some measure of mindfulness.

As we barrel into yet our second COVID Christmas and Hanukkah, many are rethinking presents. And that's not just because of the Great Supply Chain Scare of 2021 and its potential to wreak havoc. Although, if you're like Allie Hawley March of Oakdale, Minnesota, it's certainly lit a fire under you. She's already done with her shopping.

"We made sure Santa letters were sent by Halloween, and all the kids' presents are already in the building. Not messing around this year," she told me.


The pandemic may have altered our approach to gift-giving in other ways. If you have lost a job, or even quit as part of the Great Resignation, maybe a smaller budget necessitates less spending. Or an overwhelming sense of gratitude has you wanting to lift up those less fortunate around you.

For some inspiration, here's how some are taking on new holiday habits:

Creating 'core memories'

Laura Bumbala of Lakeville, Minnesota said now that her two boys, ages 5 and 7, have gotten their first set of COVID-19 shots and will be fully vaccinated by early December, the family is ready to get out of the house. That's why they're prioritizing experiences over presents.


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