The ratio of "people I like for whom I buy Christmas gifts" to "people I do not like but for whom I am obligated to buy Christmas gifts" is dangerously close to 1:1. As I currently live slightly above the Federal definition of the poverty line, I end up getting nothing for the majority of my actual friends.
This could easily turn into a discussion of commercialization of holidays, the bizarre tendency of our society to equate shopping with affection, or any number of other social theories that might help explain this behavior. Instead I simply wish to salute the gifts that scream "I don't particularly care about you, but I am obligated to get you something." Standing head and shoulders above the other contenders in this field is the $25 Best Buy gift card.
Card: $25. Passive-aggressively communicating ambivalence through gifting: priceless.
Honestly, is there any gift that more clearly says "I put absolutely no thought into getting you something" than a Best Buy gift card? Gift certificates in general are an extraordinarily lazy gift, but the Best Buy card goes above and beyond the norm – it's the most generic of gifts from the most generic retail outlet.
The Borders/BN gift cards are a close second, but they lose out based on the fact that the purchaser is at least acknowledging that the recipient likes fancy book learnin' and other non-battery powered pastimes. It's an informal rule. If you're in college you get a Borders card; if not, then welcome to Best Buy.
Any other worthy nominees? Feel free to list them in the comments. And feel equally free to use this link to buy a gift card for that not-so-special someone in your life.