Yes, it is possible to be happy when your credit card bills arrive in the mail after Christmas. Really. How? By not overspending in November and December! It really is possible to give gifts to people who are important to you without emptying your wallet.
First of all, make a list of everyone to whom you absolutely must give a gift. Discuss with your spouse and children to see if perhaps some people on the list could be "downgraded" to a card. Decide ahead of time with your spouse how much money you have to spend on gifts this year. If it helps, put that amount of cash in an envelope and only use it when you buy presents (I realize that's not practical for everyone though). Be careful to spend only the agreed amount.
Secondly, you may have to limit the number of gifts you give to each child (or parent, or spouse). Mary Beth Whalen wrote an amazing article featured on the From the Trenches of Motherhood blog last week. It's entitled "Easy Tips on How to Buy Christmas Gifts Without Blowing Your Budget." She introduces a nifty three gift concept as well as several other cost-cutting ideas.
Thirdly, consider making some Christmas presents this year. Every grandparent, aunt, and uncle loves handmade ornaments or pictures of the children in hand-decorated photo frames. I'm making a bunch of fleece scarves and hats for people on my list this year (thanks to TOS's Nancy Carter for the directions and ideas). Check out Kaboose, All Free Crafts, and Family Fun for more fun Christmas craft and gift ideas.
Now go flip through those Black Friday sale catalogs sitting on your coffee table! Drop me a note and tell me about the best bargain Christmas gift you find this season.