We're all feeling the stress caused by the economy. I've had to work at keeping it from making me into a Grinch myself. I've got a trick or two that have helped manage the stress on my bank account.
I previously said I don't do Christmas cards; there are a couple reasons for this. I don't see the reason to spend time writing out things people will likely toss after the holidays. Not only is it not a good use of my time and postage, it's not good for the environment. (But if you send me a card, or even better, a family update letter, I do appreciate that. As a single person, I just don't have enough news to warrant a more meaningful letter myself).
That being said, as a writer, I do sometimes like to create actual gifts by putting pen to paper. Hopefully these hand made gifts have a longer lifespan and more sentimental value for the recipient than a boxed Christmas card. Spending time making these gifts is also one of the ways I carve out that solitude and reflection time I need to balance the chaos of the holidays.
Aside from giving the gift of your art, also consider giving the gift of your time. This year I'm offering to spend time with my friends, and specifically spend it doing something they might need. Babysitting. Organizing. Filing. Cleaning.
As a recipient, if someone, not that I'm naming names here, but if someone were to want to give me the gift of cleaning my house and doing some general repairs and maintenance, that would be a most wonderful Christmas gift. I'm just saying.