My dad has been a school teacher for the last 20 years. On the first day of school after Christmas break, all the kids would come in comparing notes of what they got for Christmas. Dad would quiet them down, and say "I only want to hear one thing--what was the best present that you GAVE?"
This attitude is one I maintain. If course it's nice to receive some nice things, but if it is better to give than to receive (and I hope by now you know that I truly believe that it is!), then the focus should not be on how much I've spent or whether I have x number of presents for this person or that, but rather on the quality and sentiment of the gifts I give.
So what is the best present you have given?
I will share mine:
My parents live on a single income (that of a school teacher). There are 9 kids in the family, so the budget is often tight. Once a year (and only once--on Mom's birthday) my parents go out for a nice dinner. Last Christmas, for the first time in 4 years, all of us kids were going to be back home for Christmas. Hubby and I were talking about could we get together to do something nice for my parents, and we had the idea of everybody putting in however much they could afford--even just $1--toward a gift certificate to send Mom and Dad out to dinner someplace nice. So I talked with all my siblings...college students, young parents, jobless teenagers, and one 6 year old (yup, he's a caboose)...some had bigger budgets than others, but everyone (even the 6 year old) contributed a little. When it came down to it, we had come up with more than I had anticipated. So we sent them to the Space Needle. They have lived in the Seattle area for over 20 years, and never been to that iconic rotating restaurant in the sky.
I will never forget the looks on their faces when they opened the envelope and saw the card, and saw that it was literally from ALL of us. Mom cried. Dad sat in silence for a bit, and then said quietly "wow."