If your budget is tight this year, rather than charging up more credit card debt in an effort to give to your friends and family, suggest forgoing gifts and agree to volunteer together at a nonprofit.
Not only will you be able to share in the holiday spirit with your loved ones, but you will also be providing assistance to those who need it most.
Another idea is to issue "gift certificates" to friends and family, offering your time to baby-sit or help with housework, yard work, and other special projects.
This may not be realistic for your own child, but I would absolutely recommend this when it comes to giving a gift to a grandchild, niece or nephew.
A typical American child receives 70 new toys a year! There is not a better stocking stuffer than a stock certificate from a company that your child is familiar with -- it is educational and financially rewarding.
For example, you can buy stock directly from Mattel Inc. for your nephew instead of the hot toy that he is sure to forget.
Likewise, buy your father-in-law a share of stock directly from Home Depot instead of a new power drill.
Gifts of stock are a low-price gift that makes a big impact. I like to think of them as a present for the future.
Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Capital Management in Chicago (www.arielmutualfunds.com) is "Good Morning America's" personal finance expert.