I know this will sound like blasphemy to people who enjoy shopping — but let’s face the facts: the gifts you give your family and friends are things you think they want but are most likely things they do not need. Thus the question to ask yourself is why give something your recipient does not need? Even gift cards are bad because you assume the person wants something from that store.
You have four choices if you must give a gift:
1. Give cash. Let the person buy what s/he needs.
2. Donate. My landlord donated to the American Cancer Society in my name, for instance; and the ACS sent me an acknowledgement card.
3. Do nothing. My sister and I don’t exchange gifts. We’re OK with our material possessions and symbiotic relationship.
4. Get something the person needs. If you don’t know, ask.