Every year I sit down and make a list of who I need to buy holiday gifts for, and every year it seems to get longer and longer.  Everybody has a budget, and I am a strong believer that you should not rack up a ton of credit card debt during the holidays just to put presents under the tree.  So I thought I would research the topic of etiquette around who you should be shopping for.  Now of course there are a few easy ones; your children, your spouse, and your immediate family (parents, brothers and sisters).  However, I take the approach of making a deal with my spouse, my sister, and my mother that we should keep our gifts simple, inexpensive, and meaningful.  I value their love and companionship MUCH MORE than any gift.  My approach with my kids is to have them make a list for Santa to help narrow down the possibilities.

So what about everyone else on the list; nieces and nephews, in-laws, co-workers, your boss, your postal carrier, etc.?  There are WAY too many people to list, but I thought I would cover some of the more obvious ones.

Nieces and Nephews: Follow tradition with this one.  I think most families would agree that if you see your nieces and nephews at least once a year then you should plan on buying them a gift until they are eighteen-ish.   After that, I would say that unless you are in close contact with them, the gift giving can cease.

Brother/Sister in-law:  I think they should be treated like your siblings.  Find something that let's them know you appreciate them being part of the family, and is meaningful to them without being too expensive.  Something that supports their hobby would be a great gift idea.

Mother/Father in-law:  Your spouse and you should decide on a gift that comes from your family.  My in-laws request that we don't give them gifts other than pictures of the kids or other momentos.  Like me, they have reached a point where gifts have little value unless they come from the heart.

Co-workers/Boss: Bring a plate of cookies or some other food item to share during the holiday season. 

Mail Carrier: If you have the same mail carrier throughout the year and he/she delivers mail to your residence directly, then I would recommend a small gift of baked goods or a gift card ranging in value from $15-$25.

Landscaper: A gift similar to that which you give your Mail Carrier would be appropriate.

Friends: Friends are like family in my book.  I try to find something during the year that reminds me of them, or I think that they would enjoy and find useful.  I then stash that away until the holidays, and give it as a holiday gift.  I once has an aquaintance who essentially did her holiday shopping year round, finding meaningful gifts for people during her travels and saving them until the holidays.

Friend's Children: This can quickly get out of hand.  Not giving gifts to your friends children is acceptable unless you make another agreement.  I found that doing a Secret Santa among all my friend's children is a lot of fun, especially if you all get together during the holidays.

As I said, that is just a brief list of people that might show up on your list.  Gift giving should be done from the heart, and not just the pocketbook.  If you feel that you are just buying a gift because of the etiquette, then maybe you should step back and rethink the purpose of the holiday:)