I have had a no-stress Christmas so far. I visit thrift stores, flea markets and tag sales year round, and pick up little things that I know people will like as gifts (a few dollars here and there is so easy spread out year round). I have a gift shelf in my attic, and it keeps me prepared for birthdays, Christmas, and hostess gifts. I also re-cycle impersonal things (candles, hand lotion, etc.) that are given to me, but I've had to start labeling who they came from so I don't re-gift to the giver.... I hate running around looking for something "just to give a gift" and much prefer having something meaningful on hand.
So this year all my gifts have been either (a) purchased at an earlier point, and something I know the recipient wants or loves (easy for the collectors on the list), (b) food that I have made, (c) food that I have bought, or (c) something I own that I know the recipient would value.
I don't have any kids in my circle -- everyone I have a gift for is middle-aged and comfortable and in no need of anything (as am I). So I've also limited myself to one gift per person -- not because I'm stingy (I really love giving gifts!), but because I don't want to over-do it. I'm trying to de-commercialize Christmas with my little gestures of heartfelt, home-made, and edible gifts given with love.
I didn't even buy any wrapping paper or ribbons this year, because I have enough old stuff to last for about a decade. So all told, I've spent probably $50.00 on Christmas gifts in 2009, and have gifts for 17 people and 8 animals (and the humans who I mailed some home-made chocolates to have already told me they loved them).
I will also host a party on the morning after Christmas with baked goods and coffee and egg nog -- I'd much rather spend time enjoying the season with my friends than shopping shopping shopping. And all the leftovers from the party will go to my church which is having a coffee hour the following day -- I hope this will start another new tradition of sharing with my church family.
So, all in all -- a very merry Christmas. I've been able to give with love, with compassion for myself, with joy in not going into debt, and with the happiness of being able to give anonymously to members of my parish.