OnlyOnAOL: You definitely want Gabrielle Union to be your secret Santa

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By: Donna Freydkin

And that's a wrap for Gabrielle Union.

The actress doesn't let holiday madness sneak up on her. Quite the opposite.

"I'll get to my list early and go online and get exactly what people want. Then I don't have that pressure of what to get someone," says the actress, who's married to NBA star Dwyane Wade and is part of a big family.

Presents aside, the winter months are busy for Union. Season four of BET's "Being Mary Jane" returns on January 10, with Union's brash journo relocating to New York and starting over. But first, she co-stars in the comedy "Almost Christmas," about four disparate grown kids who gather around the tree.

She could totally relate to her character, who winds up "coming home after getting divorced and putting on all this armor. I've been struggling to keep it all together and clueless at the same time."

Because Union executive produced "Christmas," the film afforded her "a double dose of opportunity. I provided opportunities for some of my close friends. I could not pass that up. We wanted to have different folks from different generations. We have Danny Glover, a legend. We all learned from each other. We vibed with each other. I love Christmas movies."

Her consistent favorite, which she watches regularly, is "Love, Actually."
The 2016 ESPYS - ArrivalsUnion takes a practical and logistical approach to planning her own Christmas, and doesn't sweat location issues.

"We plan our holidays around the basketball schedule. Most of our holidays are spent in an arena somewhere. His team wins -- or Christmas sucks. It's crazy but it is what it is," says Union.

Things were slightly different during her childhood in Nebraska. "When I was growing up, we listened to the original Broadway cast album of 'Dreamgirls.' Everyone wanted to be Deena Jones," says Union.

She's equally methodical about gift-giving, especially when it comes to children and their whims.

"If you ask kids as opposed to trying to guess, you won't have disappointed faces. Kids don't want clothes. Let me put that out there. Those are gifts are for you. I ask them to make a list," she says.

It's an approach that might be embraced by the exacting, demanding, and often vexing character Union plays on "Being Mary Jane," a show that has resonated with viewers because of Union's authentic approach to playing a deeply relatable working woman.

"This season, we've moved to New York and she's starting over at the bottom. She has to humble herself. She's approaching her work and love and family differently. This season she saves herself," says Union.

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Gabrielle Union at BUILD Series
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Gabrielle Union at BUILD Series
Gabrielle Union at BUILD Series 
Gabrielle Union at BUILD Series with the cast 
Gabrielle Union at BUILD Series 
Gabrielle Union at BUILD Series 
Gabrielle Union at BUILD Series 
Gabrielle Union at BUILD Series 
Gabrielle Union at BUILD Series 
Gabrielle Union at BUILD Series 
Gabrielle Union at BUILD Series 
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