Many Westerners today have everything that they need...enough cups for everyone at the table to have their own...no shortage of toys...and candy more than once per year. Many of us just go to Target (or Amazon) when we want or need anything. There aren't too many needs left to fulfill with gifts. But we still enjoy giving holiday gifts.
A few gifting "categories" that speak to my zero-waste, simple, minimalist, environmentally considerate, plastic-free intentions ::
-something fair + lovely (want)
-something to do
-useful, lovely indulgence
I like reading about holiday gift giving formulas families use like ::
-need, want, wear, read
-gold (want), frankincense (something spiritual), myrrh (something for the body)
-want, need, experience to share
-a year of monthly experiences
I think drawing names or doing white elephant gift exchanges (maybe say that no one can purchase anything) are good/fun options for extended families. Maybe doing a big swap for the holidays would be fun...even little ones could gather a few toys + clothes to offer. This could be a great way to go home with only things one actually wants + to clear out some space (donate the leftovers) as the new year approaches. I also love the idea of everyone sharing names of favorite books, movies, music albums, restaurants, quotes, recipes, new discoveries, parks, etc. This is the stuff of the joy of life anyway, isn't it? A list could be compiled individually or collectively.
Let's try not to make gift giving about obligation. We have no obligation to enrich the economy...no obligation to amass debt...no mandate to compete with the most generous gift giver in our extended family...no reason to create someone else's idea of a picture perfect holiday. (There is still opportunity to return stuff + reimagine this holiday.) :)
Considering what gifts to give should be a joyful experience. It's an opportunity to share love + appreciation. We get to decide how that looks.