I learned about gift giving from not only having five children, but by having three brother in law who also have wives and children. Although we don't give gifts now, giving to adult males, their wives and children as well as your parents, and then your spouse and children can be difficult.
First of all, it's important to draw the line. Most families simply cannot afford to give expensive gifts to anyone but their children, and perhaps their parents. In the past, there have been some years where my budget for my spouses gift for Christmas was all of twenty dollars. Money is tight everywhere, and if it isn't that tight for you, then you aren't paying enough attention, and you could allocate better yourself !
The most important element in practical gift giving, especially for Christmas is to start with enough time. Starting in September allows you time to list the people you will be giving gifts to this season. Then, there is time for you to discover sizes and preferences. Starting then will give you plenty of time to check your local sources for availability and price, and to take a look at these items for viability. Then, take a look on half.com, e-bay, and amazon. Run searches and see if a specialty shop has a better buy on this item than any of the companies I mentioned. This doesn't take very long and it can save half or even more.
This year for example, I wanted to get a tactical jacket for one of my sons who has a concealed weapons permit. I had in mind a Kitanica jacket, which is the top of the line and would allow him to carry a concealed weapon comfortably.
The Kitanica Mark v, is a terrific jacket, but for six hundred dollars was not only beyond my budget, but it exceeded what my son needed. He only needed a comfortable three season jacket which allowed him to have an additional manner of weapon carry without calling attention to himself. So, I began looking at other types of jackets, eventually settling on this one, which meets all the needs and comes in under budget for about sixty-four dollars plus postage.
Another one of my kids needs a new hard-drive this year for his computer. I was going to get one which allowed an obscene amount of data, and then I realized, that if we spent just a little more on that, we could get his TWO of slightly less capacity, and this would provide some redundancy, should anything ever become corrupted.
Our daughter has really already had her principle Christmas gift this year. She needed a stove for her new home, and she wanted a particular type that was expensive. We ran around and found the exact stove on Craig's list. It was very lightly used, but an incredible buy. A family had bought a fairly new home, and found this stove in it. They had a stainless steel professional stove they were bringing to the house, and they needed to sell this one. We bought it, cleaned it, and it is just like new, with all its paperwork, but for a fraction of the original cost new. She will have plenty of smaller kitchen oriented gifts this year to give her something to open.
Don't forget books as presents. Our daughter's boyfriend really is a family member to us now, and he has a fairly new interest in preparedness and survival. (I wonder where he got it......tee, hee) There are plenty of excellent books for his hard library which can be purchased very reasonably, along with some other practical items to unwrap.
Our money supplies are finite. We need to spend time honing in on the best use of our money and the gift that will be the most help to those we love. Free yourself this year to get what will achieve this. Before you buy your wife a vacuum cleaner she has not asked for, this is the one area in which a romantic gift may be in order. You will need to assess this carefully. I have always preferred practical gifts and a gift certificate to Victoria's Secret would have been an egregious misspending of money. I would rather have a certain brand of chocolate or ammunition. Many women care less about the gift and more that you know them, and carefully considered it. Sometimes, you may even have to ask what they want. This is fine, because even after more than twenty-five years of marriage, my husband cannot yet read my mind !