When gift giving gets sticky
The surprise gift
A neighbor or coworker presents you with a present, and you're empty handed. Lots of people exchange gifts only with family and close friends, and you're not obligated to reciprocate with everyone. A simple "thank you" will suffice.
The lopsided exchange
You went to five stores to find the pricey scarf your cousin wanted. She gives you a pair of inexpensive bedroom slippers. Instead of making a scene, take the high road and write a thank you note. Conversely, don't feel guilty for not blowing your budget to match gifts with a wealthier loved one.
The new relationship
You've been dating someone for a short time, and you're wondering what's appropriate. A gift card with a heartfelt holiday greeting shows you care without going overboard.
Unwritten rules often drive the holiday gift giving habits. Perhaps the most pervasive: "Once bgun, never undone." If you're watching your money or simply don't have the time or energy for holiday shopping, ask your friends or relatives how they would feel about ending a gift exchange. They just might be relieved, and a reduction in stress may be their greatest holiday gift.