I enjoy the holidays. I just hate it when people get all Seinfeld about gift exchanging.
Come January/February, I'm going to try to rally the RL friends into creating personal online wishlists. Amazon, ThinkGeek, HBC.com, Sears.ca, or just a manual HTML page off their personal websites or whatever. Everyone needs to pick things that range in price from $5.00 (or less) up to however much they want. This way, people have a choice to get them something small or chip in with a group to get them something bigger.
I don't have to actually buy the items from Amazon or wherever, but I at least have an idea as to what people want so I have a starting point to look for it in local malls/stores.
This isn't "fishing for gifts" at all. As long as you're not expecting anything and you're truly thankful for whatever you get, no matter how small (including nothing at all), it's fine. It's a courtesy to friends to make life a LOT easier by taking the uncertainty/guesswork out of it.
And what the hell is wrong with our society that we can't be nice to each other unless the retail industry says to?
I've taken to giving people things when they need them. Not just for their birthdays or Christmas. When a friend's shoelaces broke, I got him a new pair. It was only a few bucks, but it was needed and appreciated. A friend's dress ripped just before a gala fundraising banquet. I drove out to the nearest London Drugs, dressed to the nines, and bought her a little sewing kit. I helped sew her into her dress for the evening. I've lost count of the number of friends stuck in the embarassing situation of being short on cash, at a restaurant, with a group, that I've lent money to. I've also lost count of the number of times I've been caught cashless and friends helped me out.
I once gave a friend $250.00 cash because her car gave birth to a muffler in the middle of rush hour traffic and she wasn't going to be able to eat for the rest of the month until her next payday. I told her that she could consider it a gift if she wanted to or a loan if she wasn't comfortable with taking it. She ended up paying me back slowly (by treating me to lunch or paying for small things for me at outings or whatever). So, it really technically cost me nothing at all, but it was deeply appreciated. She tells me so, she tells everyone so.
To me, those things mean much more than deliberate Oh-It's-That-Time-Again gifts. Both to me, as the giver, and the recipient.