This will be my second consecutive Christmas in the States (the last one being a bit of a blur of newlywed life and adapting to the reality of the holiday season away from my previous home and family in the UK). I will say that this year has been slightly more organized on my part, particularly in terms of getting affordable gifts posted to the folks back home at affordable postage prices. Here are some tips I've picked up along the way:
Homemade Gifts - This is a great idea if you're handy with a sewing machine or even a glue gun! All it takes is a little bit of imagination, a trip to the local craft store (Joanne's Fabrics and Hobby Lobby are my personal favorites) and a short commitment to researching ideas and "how to's' online. This is the route I went this year and I was able to make useful, well produced (and cheaply made!) gifts that were lightweight and inexpensive to mail overseas. It did take a couple of weeks of project time (interspersed with real life of course) but all in all I had a great time and learned some new skills along the way. Bargain! See below for some useful links to a few great homemade gift ideas...
Lightweight 'Area Unique' Gifts - How about a tea towel from your new city or state of residence? Or a handmade Christmas ornament that depicts something inherently All-American that you would never see outside of the States? The key is to find something that is unique to your new area and share it with your family back home - chance is they'll love being a part of your new lifestyle with little treats like these!
Super Frugal and Super Personal - Why not put together a photo slideshow of the last year of your life abroad? Arrange with a family member to gather the group around a computer on Christmas Day and share your heartfelt creation with every one of them. You can fill your slideshow with quirky inside family jokes, a certain song that really means something to you all and individual messages for each person. You don't need to spend money to let those back home know that they're on your mind despite the distance, but time and effort will surely bring about some seasonal smiles.
http://postcalc.usps.com/ - USPS Postage Calculator to help you plan!!