Q: Money's tight, and I wish I could give fewer presents. But so many people give them to me every year, what can I do?
It's small consolation, but a lot of people are in your same boat this year. No one's going to be surprised if you don't lavish them with presents, and fewer people may give them to you, too, says Hall. "It's just time to get creative," she explains. One of Hall's favorite inexpensive presents is a sentimental one—she slips a photo of her and a friend together into a simple Lucite photo key chain. (For relatives, framed photos of your kids are also appropriate.) Home-baked goodies are a hit, too, or, if you have the time and energy, promise to babysit or run an errand.
For the past two years, Evans and her family haven't given many gifts at all. "Instead, we read up on charities, select a cause, and then let everyone know that we're making a donation in their name," she says. A single lump sum can work out to much less than dozens of individual presents your friends may not use. "People are realizing that in this economy, money and fancy gifts aren't where it's at," Evans says. So don't think of it as being cheap, just contemporary-chic.