This year, it seems, we are being encouraged to buy more than ever. But if you want to keep your own personal economy healthy into the new year, you might be trying to figure out how you can give for less. Here are some ideas that are low-impact, both financially and on the Earth's finite resources.
Buy just one thing. One really well-thought-out gift that will be used and loved is the goal for gift-giving, but now it seems that a hodgepodge of random stuff is becoming the norm. Inexpensive, smaller, "fun" stuff can add up quickly and is more likely to be tossed into the garbage come February. Choose one great thing (and keep your receipt).
Make it. What do you do best? Knitting, making great chocolate-chip cookies, creating a selection of homemade salad dressings - there are so many gifts you can create if you set aside an afternoon to make them.
Give a chore or treat. New parents need sleep, a workaholic needs a neck and shoulder massage, and those starting a new diet need encouragement and positivity (perhaps a super-healthy homemade meal?). To make your gift of time fun and festive, attach something small - a reusable water bottle, which will make it feel more like a tangible gift.
Pick your own. You give them a dollar amount, they choose the store, and you buy them whatever they like. An important part of the gift is that you accompany the giftee, so not only will they remember the gift, but also the fun experience of shopping for it with you.