It's inevitable that there will be an awkward moment during the holiday season, but most people understand the experience. Keep in mind that many people simply give gifts to show their appreciation, and all it takes is a simple thank you in return. The hustle and bustle of the season sometimes hide the reasons for the tradition of giving at Christmas. However, it is a tradition based on history.
The custom also exemplifies the human need to express gratitude and affection. We give gifts to express our love and appreciation for others. Love seeks the supreme good of the loved one. Our motivation for giving gifts should be to do so in honor of the birth of our Savior, who gave us the most precious gift of all salvation.
Most of the time, the supreme good is not received with expensive gifts, but with simple things of everyday use or value. I agree that this year, both of you would rather make someone else's Christmas special rather than exchanging gifts with each other. The custom of giving at Christmas was a natural adoption of these and other seasonal customs, such as the ceremonial lighting of candles, songs of celebration and the celebration of big holidays. My great aunt occupied her usual place in front of the Christmas tree and meticulously read each name and whose gift it was.
If your budget forces you to reduce holiday expenses, or you want a Christmas that is less focused on gifts, and you plan to buy people fewer or no gifts this year, the best time to tell them is NOW. Economist Joel Waldfogel noted that, due to the mismatch between what the gifted value the gift and the value paid by the giver, gifts lose between a tenth and a third of their value; he calls it the loss of Christmas dead weight. The tradition of giving at Christmas is centuries old and reminds people of the magical birth of Christ in a stable long time ago. Sometimes these gifts are in the form of money, like a Christmas voucher; other times, in the form of gift vouchers.
If your office often exchanges Secret Santa gifts or participates in a gift-exchange game, you could suggest that you change things up this year and instead get everyone together to give gifts to children or families in need. That night, the children leave their shoes near a window (similar to the tradition of Christmas socks) to fill them with the gifts they asked for.