, I decided to help my family out and create a Christmas list of things I want this year in Google Docs. I put links to the specific items I wanted, "shared" it through Google Docs and gave everyone editing privileges, and at the top instructed my family to write "purchased" after each item they bought to eliminate duplicate gifts. I know this might take away the surprise element a bit, but you could also tell your family and friends that you won't look at the document until after the holidays.
This all sounds a little narcissistic, but every year my family never really knows what to get me, so this eases their anxiety and makes them feel special in buying something I really want, and also ensures that I actually do get the things I want. It's also handy because many of the recurring items (Netflix gift subscriptions, magazine subscriptions, etc.) can be reused for next year's list as well, saving time and effort for the next go around. It would also be a good idea in the email you send sharing the link to ask for ideas about what your family and friends want you to get them, so even if they aren't as organized and helpful as you are, you'll still have some ideas. :)
I submitted this as a "tip" to Lifehacker, but I doubt it will ever see the light of day, so I thought I'd share it here. Let's all get out there and stimulate the economy! Woooo!