I've said before that if you're going to spend money, you should try to spend it on experience rather than material goods.
I stand by that advice, though I recognize that some material things can be functional, necessary or add beauty to life. If you find yourself in the position of having to buy a gift this holiday (or anytime, really), you might consider something that satisfies the three qualities mentioned above, and has the added benefit of supporting a working artist or artisan.
The place to browse for these gifts is a wonderful marketplace website called Etsy.com, where handmade items--from art to pet food dishes to clothing to jewelry--are sold directly by the maker to the buyer.
What I love about this is that you can give a beautiful or functional (and often both!) handmade, one-of-a-kind gift, and support someone else who is trying to follow their bliss and engage their gifts and talents as they make a living. Also, the items are often extremely affordable, which is nice if you're on a budget.
Really, what's not to love? So spread some holiday cheer and good karma when you do your gift shopping and make the holidays a little more handmade.
If you like what my hands made--this blog--consider subscribing to my feed! It's free!