Tonight is the "Packing Party" at my church for Operation Christmas Child (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/), which is something we have been contributing to since my two youngest were babies. It's a fantastic program that helps my kids participate in the spirit of giving to others. I recently read a blog post while I was researching doll-making techniques for Austin that talked about giving each child "something to love" (http://dollydonations.blogspot.com/2013/10/free-small-doll-sewing-p...). It inspired me since I already was in the midst of "elfing" (as my husband called it) and sewing/crafting my heart out.
I made 2 dolls, a purse to put each in (one for each of the "girl" boxes that my daughter and I will pack) and these cute love birds I found (http://www.allcrafts.net/crochetsewingcrafts.htm?url=mollychicken.b...) to put in the "boy" boxes that my sons will pack. My youngest daughter and son are obsessed with them. They are begging for me to make them one, thus confirming my theory that handmade gifts will go over quite well. They were having a hard time giving them away until I explained how the children that would receive them were likely to have never received a toy or gift, ever. That quickly changed their spirit of giving, but didn't put to rest the desire to have one of these of their own.
I have also found that just the act of using my creativity, while putting love into each handmade item, has been quite a fulfilling task. It hasn't always been relaxing, but absolutely satisfying. One doll initially got scrapped, as you can imagine when trying to figure out this doll without a pattern (yes, I like winging it sometimes). Yet, my daughter is carrying around this doll with no legs (I cut the off to use on a doll try #2) and a hand-drawn face (because I wouldn't embroider a face on a doll that needed to go in the trash) despite my promises to make her one of her own. I am not the best person at sewing nor that particularly skilled at other things, but a little research online and following ideas and steps suggested, have resulted in some great projects.
I hope you are inspired to give some homemade love as well. I think you will find that the giver (you) and the receiver will be much more inspired/touched than a store-bought gift will offer.