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$Monday: Pandemic Holiday Shopping

It's pandemic holiday shopping season! Yeah, already. I'm not usually an early holiday shopper, but this year I don't trust that supply chains, markets, and shipping systems will stay reliable over the next few months. We have a president who is fighting the United States Postal Service, and Santa Claus has multiple co-morbidities for Covid-19. I am not taking any chances with timing or with my finances.

As a mom, my first priority is taking care of my child. Almost all of her gifts this year will be practical things that she needs to get through a winter of isolation at home--like clothes, books, and cozy blankets. My husband and I have agreed to buy a few books as family gifts, and that's about it. All three of us have birthdays that cluster with the holiday season as well--November, December, and January. We will shift the focus from wrapped gifts to experiences such as cookie baking and meal prep, fall color hiking, playing games by the fireplace, tree decorating, snow sculpting. And I don't expect that any of us will feel deprived with a year of fewer consumer goods and more warm family memories.

There will be some presents to unwrap, though, and I plan to have everything ordered by Halloween. I sincerely do not care about possible Black Friday sales on big-ticket electronics or other status steals, because this is not the year for big spending on non-essential goods. I'll save 100% on those items, thanks.

I have a few ideas for gifts that feel right for 2020, and you can feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

  • Grocery store goodies: Build your own gift basket of pantry staples and toilet paper. It's hilarious, but really, who wouldn't want that? Seriously, who would not? Remember Easter? For a less jokey, more special gift, prepare homemade meals and desserts that you can freeze, can, or put in a pretty jar. If you have a biggish list of gift recipients this year (and it is absolutely okay if you do not), buy spices at a steep discount in bulk and divvy them into hand-labeled jars to create gift sets. There is truly nothing more 2020 than an Insta-worthy pantry.
  • Family photos and art: Family photo calendars, framed prints, and kid art are all classic gifts that are easy to send in the mail and bring great joy to grandparents and faraway friends.
  • Hygge comforts: Anything that makes this holiday season feel like relaxation rather than isolation is the next best thing to a real hug. Think luxurious slippers and bathrobes and pajamas and sweats, coffee and tea, bath bombs, and of course books.
  • Friluftsliv gear: This includes anything that makes it more safe, comfortable, or fun to spend time outdoors, where it is safer to meet in person with our loved ones who don't live inside our houses. Examples include cold-weather face masks and other outerwear (maybe hand-knitted during quarantine!), thermal mugs, and sleds. Sledding is the new bowling!

This holiday season is going to be different and limited, but it's also an opportunity to contemplate the true reasons for the seasons: to have fun, reflect upon gratitude, treasure loved ones, celebrate hope in dark times, and honor family traditions. Keep your plans small and flexible, get crafty, shop early, and start now to make plans for how you will spend not only your gift budget but your staying-in time and your outdoor time for your best balance of mental, physical, and financial health.

We will survive!

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