"No one should feel left out or unappreciated."
That was my father's response when I asked why he always had a few extra presents stored away--usually some extra Whitman's Samplers, sometimes extra Christmas ornaments, a few extra toys, some extra boxes of golf balls, or extra copies of a favorite Christmas movie. If someone brought a friend to a family Christmas celebration, Dad would ask for help in choosing the most appropriate gift to ensure that the new guest was a part of the festivities.
That reply resonates with me to this day.
When I get together with friends to exchange Christmas gifts, I want to give every person some sort of a gift as a way of saying, "I appreciate you and I'm glad you're here." I know the feeling of being the person who was left out. I didn't like it. I don't want anyone else to ever experience that feeling if I can help it.
I do it because each recipient matters to me--their feelings are important enough that I want them to have some token that says "you're a part of my group, you're one of my friends... you belong."
Likewise, I try to remember the birthdays of my friends (when they've shared such information with me) with a small gift. It's a memento that says, "The world is better because you're in it, and this is my way of acknowledging that."
It may not be a big gift--but I've never been a person who judged the merit of a gift based on its expense or its size. A gift from someone else means something to me because it is a sign that I mattered to another person; I hope that my gift recipients feel the same way.
I may have celebrated more than sixty Christmases, but I am not too old to be jaded to the joy of giving or receiving a gift. I hope that I never am.