It's rather interesting seeing how many people hate the "lets just buy for the kids thing." We just instituted this with my hubby's side of the family this year. We have always done gift cards and family pictures by agreement for ease of mailing, since we are all far away from each other. But when we all traded $50 REI gift cards amongst the adults last year, we decided to just quit exchanging among the grown ups with kids. The single sister still gets a gift in her own right since she generously gifts the kids. However, the other childfree sibling and spouse got dropped completely last year, after 12 years of no acknowledgement or reciprocation whatsoever of gifts....not even a Christmas card or call most years.
So while agree that in many families it can cause trouble, there is also a point where it becomes a bit ridiculous to keep gifting among the adults. In both sides of our family we are at a very similar professional income level to each other, and for the most part if we see something we need or want, we just buy it when it's needed. At this point in our lives, we are saving for a new couch and a new heat pump....not exactly something that someone else will want to or even be able to gift us with, to boot, I wouldn't want someone spending that kind of money on me!