From the comments of our roundup of gifts for people you really like but hardly know comes this great idea from Homie sjcottrell:
One tradition my husband and I started for our Christmas with the in-laws is the "Grab-bag of Useful Stuff." We load it up with things like packs of batteries, Duct Tape, scissors, winter gloves, flashlights, warm socks, first aid supplies, and other little things that everyone in our family seems to need and use but is always running out of. Then all the adults get to take turns blindly choosing items.
It's a lot of fun, actually. It shows some degree of thought and care. And no one is stuck with a "here's a useless gift because I couldn't think of what else to get you" gift.
We also keep it grownups-only, so we have a special thing after the kids have ripped off their wrapping paper.
I once participated in something like this with my best friend's family years ago — I still use the Tupperware set that I received!