it depends on the person. For people that have too much stuff I like to give Oxfam Unwrapped cards (where you give say a goat or a chicken to a family in need in a developing country in their name) or Kiva gift cards (which they can use to make small loans to people who need them to start up businesses in developing countries- they pay it back and the person who loaned it can then keep the money or lend it to someone else), or homemade gifts like food or crocheted stuff when I have time. Otherwise I tend to give a lot of books since most people seem to appreciate them and you can get some lovely children's books that are not too expensive. Sometimes clothing if I know there's something specific the person wants or needs and I know their size. My budget is limited so I don't give anything too over the top.
I like to give toys and new clothes to the children that I know, but mostly for adults they tend to buy whatever they really want anyway, so I'm more inclined to give something small so that they know I am thinking of them. I don't think it's worth going into debt just to please somebody, so something handmade and personal can be nice, or a box of chocolates I know they'll like, or a small peice of jewellery or makeup for my teenage nieces is nice to give.
It depends on the person. I usually try to gain some insight into a great gift during November and December by paying special attention in those months, and trying to listen throughout the year for clues about potential presents :) If I have a great idea, I write it down for later when I eventually go present hunting.
If you cannot Eat it or Drink it - do not give it.
We all have far too much 'stuff' in our homes and cupboards.
Try donating a gift to a women's refuge - shelters for women and their children who are victims of assault and have escaped, but have no where safe to go except to a Women's Refuge.
OR donate funds to the RSPCA or similar local shelter for the care of homeless animals, often discarded by humans who have 'run out' of love, or money, to help to look after these defenceless animals. They need our love and care, too.
With my friends, often a card would do. But for my family, I tend to give them some little gifts that look unique or something useful to them. Although, to be honest, I think a gift card is a good choice if you don't know what to buy.
Last Thursday,I got the Biggest surprise of my life,had 2 days down the Gold Coast with a friend, and waiting for her Son to pick us up to take us back to Brisbane. This Purple Limo pulls up beside us,I asked the Driver could he take our picture, he said he would,We got our photos taken, he then open the Limo door and said to me hop in I am taking you to Brisbane,Off course I burst into tears,my friend said Happy Christmas and Birthday.We sipped orange juice and listen to Tom Jones all the way home to Brisbane.How do you top that.It was on my Bucket list.There is a Santa Clause after all. Next year its her Bucket List. Jocelyn
As part of my economical Christmas plans, I buy all year round, selecting gifts to place in the present cupboard which would suit some of my recipients. For older folk or those who are downsizing, I choose consumables.
Our family does K.K. at Christmas. Our budget is $50-$100 per person, and we often compile a wish list to help our Secret Santas and ensure we'll be happy with the gift. It may take a bit of the fun out of the whole extravaganza, but it is very efficient.
I don't like giving generic gifts. I always give gifts appropriate to the person concerned. I also shop throughout the year which helps spread out the cost during the year. Like Jennifer I also give Oxfam gift cards for chickens, pigs etc. and have used Kiva cards for people difficult to buy for.