1. Make a frickin' list. And stick to the frickin' list. Write or type all of your little friends and family members' names, and beside their names, jot down a gift idea, where to find it, and the estimated price. How do you know all of this info already? Hopefully you've searched the web up and down for ideas. Now take your completed list to the mall and get to work - and mark 'em off, one by one. Once a person is marked off, he or she is D-O-N-E done!
2. Budget, ya'll. Know how much you can comfortably spend during the holiday season, and do not overspend. When buying a gift for someone who may be gifting you in return, keep in mind how much they're likely to spend on you. This will prevent any awkwardness when you swap gifts: you don't want to spend $100 on a scarf for your friend while she purchases an $18 Bath and Body Works travel-sized gift set for you. Just plain awkwardness.
Also, if you're sticking to your list and your budget, you're not going to feel that awful guilt when you get home and start wrapping gifts ("did I buy too much? Not enough? Oh no, will she even like this gift? Or did I actually like it for myself?") Stick to list. Stick to budget. Plan, my friends!
3. Purchase One Great Gift. Not a crap ton of tiny crappy craptastic ones. You will save money, trust me on this: I'm guilty of committing the crime, "Just one more thing... oh, just another little thing, ohhh she'll love this extra little thing!" Can we say, "Cha-Ching"?! Don't do it. One great thing. Which is what I'm doing for the peeps on my list this year - my husband and I are all about simplifying this holiday season, as our life is slightly chaotic and out of balance with the rest of the world, with the dissertation/job hunt and all. I can truly speak from experience and TRUST me - the gifts I remember are the great ones, which weren't even that all expensive. Just great gifts - that were useable, thoughtful, and from the heart.
It's not too late to join up - and don't even worry about trying to play catch up, just hop in with tomorrow's topic: "Favorite Christmas Activities"!