Yarnie, how do I get on the kitten list?
I think it really depends on the rel@tionship. For some people, there's really an expectation that the gift should require some serious thought. It varies from person to person, but in my life, that would be DF, a few very close friends that we spend a lot of time with, and close family like my mom, brother, and SIL. I'd be very uncomfortable giving any of those people a generic box of chocolates, or the same bath set everybody else was getting, unless it was in addition to the "real" gift.
There is, however, a second tier. In my life, the second tier is all the people we see on Christmas that aren't in the first tier. In our family, that usually amounts to some small token gift, and it's often the same thing, or nearly the same thing, for everybody. If my cousin buys everyone an ornament, it fits the group gifting dynamic, and I'm going to be happy she went to the trouble of buying me that ornament, and I'm going to put it on my tree every year and think about my cousin. I'm more likely to make some small thing than buy it, because I'm crafty, but I know my family has been happy with a homemade ornament, or a jar of jam I made (in fact, one of my cousins asked me if I'd make her more ornaments for next year, several years after I first gave them, because she likes them so much and gets compliments on them! That made my day!). If my brother gave out ornaments and nothing else, and that's all I got, I'd be hurt and wonder what I did wrong, and I'd expect him to wonder the same thing if all I gave him was the general small gift I got everyone else.
And then there are people like my mom, who's the reason we switched from everyone gifting everyone, to drawing names with optional small extras like ornaments or homemade jam. She'd go out every year, and buy whatever bright orange or yellow fleece hoodie came in enough sizes to buy one for everybody (from my adult cousins to their 8 year old kids to her sister in her 60s) for under $5 each. Same story every year, with slightly different clothing. Nobody liked them, and it was also a waste of my mom's time and money. She'd have been better off thinking "is my niece going to want a bright yellow fleece hoodie?" instead of "oooh, what's on the clearance rack?" but it was clear she wasn't thinking that (you'll have to trust me, since you guys don't know my mom). Nobody held it against her, because they knew that's just how she is, but I still think it was clearly pretty thoughtless to give everybody the same gift with no indication that any
of them would like it.