By charging expenditure to credit cards and failing to pay in full each month, many Americans are still paying for last year's holiday expenses (and perhaps for many prior years). But the good news is "According to an annual Consumer Reports survey, conducted during the first week in November,
7 percent of Americans still had unpaid Christmas bills left over from last year. That’s down from
10 percent in 2013 and 13 percent the year before." http://squaredawayblog.bc.edu/squared-away/fewer-still-paying-off-last-christmas/
The best way to ensure you pay in full this year is to pay cash. In fact, many gift recipients would much prefer needed cash rather than a gift that they may not need, may not fit, will be exchanged. Forget the gift cards and give cash. That way parents can teach children to save some, give some to charity, and spend some. Children need to be encouraged to save for their post-secondary education as well as more immediate wants. You can go wrong by encouraging children to give to the local food pantry.
IF you have some extra cash in your budget due to low gas prices, consider starting an IRA!