I used to buy some small things for some friends, but they've agreed to call a halt to it. When we still had parents alive we'd come up with something for them to unwrap. I usually come up with a wrapped gift (if not a surprise) for Forrest.
This year: nada.
I mean, some years I probably bought scores of gifts. I'd give little goofy presents at work. I bought presents for all my cousins' kids one year, I think. I bought people gadgets and plates and socks and small leather goods and glassware and stationery. I bought people books and journals. I bought calendars for people's special interests. I purchased much gift booze. For several years I sent stocking stuffer gifts to my relatives in Colorado, carefully assembling a load of small surprises for each person.
And now. Nothing.
While not shopping but wandering in a few stores and online sites I've considered things I could have gotten people. A two volume Baedeker's guide to Germany published in the early twentieth century, in German, with lots of amazing tipped in maps for a friend who speaks the language and has spent a lot of time there. Cute Lego toys for my great nephews and great niece. (I didn't even go inside the Lego store in Rockefeller Plaza.) I considered iPod touches for kids, noting prices and what gift cards were offered with purchase. I considered collapsible water bottles for everyone. (How handy, who couldn't use one?) Tiny lightweight umbrellas from REI like the ones I got myself recently. New varieties of whiskey and various drinks-related accessories at my favorite wine and spirits store.
I bought none of these things.
I'm sorry about the economy. And there is still the chance I'll find something for FFP (maybe I should have gotten those expensive cuff links). Maybe I'll pick up a bottle of something when setting out to be with friends or go to their parties. Or, maybe, I'll have a completely clean slate. A perfect curmudgeonly attitude. Bah. But if it's the thought that counts...I did think about presents.