If you are broke, food is the way to go. Back in my early twenties, I made everyone I knew chocolate and butterscotch covered pretzels dipped in sprinkles. They were a hit! Its very basic, because that's the only way I can cook. You melt the chocolate or whatever flavor chips, dip in the little pretzels, sprinkle sprinkles, let them harden... and voila! ( They could look like those there on the left. I used mini pretzels, more bang for your buck!)
If you want to really do something different, make a plate! (or at least hire someone to do it). My sister's family is growing and I wanted to get one big thing for all of them. I found this company online that made all sorts of great plates and platters. I was able to tell the artist exactly what I wanted and she made the most adorable platter that they use all the time! It was under $100, which I thought was pretty fantastic. ( That's it over there on the right... yeah, that's my spray paint censor. Privacy Act.)
I enjoy giving gift cards, but only if they make sense. I mean, when does Starbucks not make sense, but all the others I try and stay away from. Aside from Starbucks, I think Audible.com gift cards are great for the right person. Podcasts and Audio Books are all the rage, but the cost of buying them adds up. I found some pretty appreciative recipients of this one.
Anything photo related for the grandparents or parents. Seriously, I know its stereotypical, but its true. I actually just framed a picture of me at Mile Six during the NYC Marathon for my dad on his birthday, and he cried. Mission accomplished. Shutterfly has a whole store of ideas, as well as others like SnapFish.
And how excited would you be, if someone gifted you US Weekly or People? Magazine Gift Subscriptions are always a winner.
The bottom line for me has become about practical gift giving. No one wants a bunch of stuff they don't have room for or have to go into hell, also known as the mall, to return the thing. When I was younger, I of course asked for dolls and clothes, and watched as my older siblings opened pots and pans and housewares. I swore I would never ask for such boring gifts, but here I am, asking for these exact things, and I tell ya, they really fill a need.
Don't get me wrong, the lavish stuff is fun. But in the end, I most remember the small, more creative gifts that stay with me years to come. Feel free to shop off my list and Happy Holidays!