With unemployment at record levels, and cash - or lack thereof - at the forefront of everyone's mind, we should rethink the upcoming gift exchange that most people seem to have a different name for these days.
Remember that coat your sister pointed out one day while you drove her and her squealing friends to the mall, or that Marshawn Lynch jersey that your brother has been staring at online for the entire football season? Of course you do, because you're an awesome brother/sister/significant other, and what better way than to show your recipient how awesome you really are than to get them exactly what they wanted this whole year?
See, your girlfriend thinks that all she needs is a Burberry scarf for her life to be complete, but fortunately for you, she's wrong. I'm not going to stoop down to the levels of a Cosmo writer and suggest something cheesy/sexy/kinky, but anything that you may make that takes any remotely significant amount of effort on your part besides swiping your credit card is going to go light years further for every dollar spent.
Everyone really likes to know that someone cares about him or her, and nothing shows that better than a handmade gift that shows that you admire some qualities of the person you're giving it to. Yes, your little brother who looks up to you because he thinks that you're the coolest freaking kid in the world would enjoy that jersey. But what about something that he could show off to his friends that affirms that he really does have the coolest freaking kid in the world as a brother, like a cool collage of him playing in his football/lacrosse games, or pictures of you two doing brotherly activities?
Don't worry, luckily for you this school lets you go home a whopping two days before Christmas, and we've all done 15-page papers in half that time! Time to dust off that camera, and remember that even if you two may not get along, the lens will indeed not crack if it catches you both in the same frame. And for your significant other, make something that highlights one or more of the favorable characteristics you find in him or her, and they'll have something to show off to their friends and family.
Just remember that you really can't buy anything to show the way you feel about someone else. Cash and feelings are two completely separate constructs, which have a terrible exchange rate. Instead, make something with your feelings (hands usually help, too) to show your feelings for your brother/sister/mom/dad/significant other.
A person is going to have a hard time judging how little you spend on their gift if their heart is melting. But what do I know? I'm just inanely cheap.