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It used to be a no-brainer. When the two elder sons were younger, any gift they received, be it top of the line from generous relatives or simple (aka cheap from us no doubt), gave them the same degree of satisfaction.
Nowadays, you have a better chance of winning in the lottery than successfully guessing what they want for gifts. They're just too polite but they would have preferred something else other than the colored patched shirts with the number 85 sewn on them (a private joke).
You would realize you should have given them cash gifts instead when you find these shirts by chance at the bottom of the pile in their closet still looking brand-new even after a year or two. *sigh*
A few years ago, we started a Christmas ritual wherein we wrote down our wishlists. As a guideline, the items don't have to be expensive (I hope this holds true for Jake who has set his eyes on that box of Halo worth P2000+!), but the more specific we make our list, the better for everyone. All five of us would have a copy of the wishlists and we would secretly coordinate who gives what. Then the fun part, we'd set a couple of days for shopping.
The saying "it's the thought that counts" becomes an excuse for gifts hastily put together. Our "ritual" kind of takes out that element of surprise, but we are okay with that. The effort put in during the search for that particular item the recipient actually wants or pines for, gives gift-giving for this family a whole new significance.
On another note, online shopping gives a different kind of experience minus the hassle of physically driving to the mall to buy your item. There are those that sell a gamut of products from led lanterns to computer and gadgets to designer stuff. The online stores are organized so much so that browsing is really convenient.
Group-buying sites have become another venue for those looking for good deals. I have done a few and I must say, there are reputable sites that give value for money while there are also those that buyers need to be wary of.
Bottomline is, one must check the reviews on a particular site before parting with hard-earned cash online.