BRENDA MILLER, COLUMNIST

Even if you did not go shopping on Black Friday, it is nearly impossible to miss the constant barrage of advertisements for sales touting the “lowest prices of the year.”

Finding gifts for any reason—birthdays, anniversaries, holidays—can be extremely stressful.  You don’t have just one person to worry about.  You have a lot of people.

If you don’t already know what you are getting someone, finding gifts for people sucks.  And even though most people say they appreciate whatever you decide to give them, you can’t help but feel bad if you get something that they don’t want.

No one wants to buy an unappreciated gift.  But in most cases, gift cards are a bit of a cop-out.  It is very easy to go to a popular store and tell the cashier to put $20 on a card.  So not only is little thought put in, but the recipient also knows exactly how much you spent on them, which can be a bit awkward.

It’s also difficult to buy gifts for a lot of people when you are short on cash.  In such cases it’s a great idea to make something for people, which is often more meaningful than going out and buying something anyway.  Handmade gifts tell the recipient you put time and thought into something that was crafted specifically for them.

Jewelry, knitted projects, and even mix CDs all make great homemade gifts.  Unfortunately, not everyone is skilled at a craft that can be turned into a gift, especially if your skill is in an area that in no way appeals to the recipient.

Even worse than actually finding a gift is figuring out whether or not you should give someone a gift at all.  Your friend is getting gifts for everyone and you weren’t planning on getting them something, so do you do something for them but none of your other friends?

I know I’m not the only one who feels guilty if someone gets me something but I didn’t get them anything.  There’s a sense of obliged reciprocation.

Then there are the people who say they don’t want anything.  You can’t not do something for them without feeling somehow guilty.

Sometimes just doing something nice is enough. Buy them dinner or take them to a movie.  It’s a small gesture, but it could be more meaningful than if you had just gone to the store and picked the first thing that looked interesting.

Gift giving is supposed to be a part of the holidays that lets people remind their loved ones that they are thinking about them, and give them a token to contribute to the celebration.  Unfortunately, this practice has become almost an obligation that creates unnecessary stress during a time that is supposed to be relaxing.

Take a step back from all the sales and advertisements.  If you are giving someone a gift, something small but thoughtful and fitting means more than something big you just grabbed off the shelf.  It really is the thought that counts.