Four days to Christmas and the holiday anxiety is setting in. I have three nephews and NO CLUE what to buy them. The one who always had a three page wish list responded with "I dunno." when I asked him what he wanted for Christmas over Thanksgiving. The one who is three will be happy with paper and bows. The other nephew has the list his mother made. Christmas presents from the uncle are for fun - not for school! I'm sure I can find something suitably exciting for him without making his parents too mad.
As far as I know, my brothers and I have called a truce and are not going to exchange presents this year, but I have not heard that directly from one brother, so I don't know whether to be prepared or not. Mom and dad, of course, won't go along with that, so I still have to figure out what to get two people who already have more stuff than house/garage/barn can hold.
Friends are an entirely different matter. Some are doing the gift thing, but I have no idea who, so I feel like I need to be prepared for any contingency. Do I buy "cool" things just to have on hand that can go to anyone male or female? Maybe I'll just do a dinner for them...people usually do enjoy my food. Then there are the random gift bags/baskets...I can do that....
The only way around all this would be to ask everyone if they are getting me a gift - and that would seem like I'm asking. We need to come up with some clear etiquette on gift giving during the holidays.
Dating = gift
Close friends = gift
Acquaintances = no gift
Co-workers = draw or no gift and no breaking the agreement (if one gifts it makes everyone else look bad)
Family = decide (children = definitely, adults = come to an agreement)
Fortunately, I don't live or work in a building where holiday tipping is an expectation.
I don't want to come off as a scrooge, but in the last few years, the most fun I've had is with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. We have the rule that you buy a present for everyone, but for the adults you cannot spend more than $1. That rule suddenly makes shopping a challenge and gift receiving an adventure. When we are together, we laugh and enjoy being with one another more than you can imagine. Instead of being about the gifts, the gifts are the catalyst for much laughter - so much so that I usually ache for days afterward. We are all thirty/fortysomethings, so we don't wait for the holidays: when we need something, we go buy it instead of putting it on a wish list.
It has been much belabored each year that the holidays are too materialistic, so I won't add to that lament. I would like to see my friends and family expanding the dollar gift tradition. It is tremendous fun for the gifter and gifted.