Oprah recently had a show about thrifty Christmas present ideas, with these homemade boxes people could do where they'd scribble notes to people they loved. I'm SO not a handy person, but I love the idea of writing notes to people I love.
Only I have a better idea. Buy a book and do the same thing.
Doesn't have to be my book, in fact, I don't care what book you buy. But buy a book (or several) for the people on your list this year. It's an inexpensive present for the people you love, and easy way to tell them you love them. How?
Write a little message on the inside page about WHY you chose that book for them. The book you loved as a teen that you buy for your teen, or the book about politics that you buy for your dad, or the book about grief that you buy for a friend going through a tough time.
A book -- a few dollars that you can spend, but turn into an invaluable gift. Something someone will hold onto forever.
Spend some time in your local bookstore, and support the industry. If your budget allows, buy new, not used (and used book stores often do sell new editions, so you can support a local shop by buying new) because the only way to support authors you love is to buy new. Authors don't get any money from used sales, and our portion of new sales is really small (a single digit percentage of the cover price, generally), so trust me, no author is getting rich off your purchase--but every purchase does add up and impacts an industry that sometimes gets forgotten.
Buy a book, make it personal. The perfect, and best Christmas present idea. :-)