|I like the idea of a gift exchange: You pick a name from a hat and buy a gift for one person who's usually part of a larger group. It's a good way to be involved in the tradition of giving gifts for Christmas but without feeling obligated to buy gifts for everyone in the group. The problem is that I don't like how it always turns out: We don't want to buy a person stupid meaningless gifts, so we ask them what they'd like, and since most people don't know what they want or don't feel like explaining in detail the exact thing they have their mind set on, they request a gift card so they can buy it themselves. In other words, it's a gift of money. But since the giver receives something in return, usually in the same price range and usually a gift card to a different store, it's an exchange of money with zero net effect. If anything, it makes things more difficult because your money is now in a slightly difficult-to-use format. And it's not that I don't like gift cards. It's more just that I have trouble rationalizing my participation in a fruitless exchange of currency.
Also related: This Dilbert comic #money