Economists are fond of pointing out the dead-weight loss of holiday gifts, and based on personal experience, I have to agree with the complaint. Considering how much suffering can be prevented by a single dollar, it's tragic to consider what the money is used on instead.
The economically ideal approach would be to transfer cash, and utilitarians would most benefit from this as well, since they could then use that cash for the purpose they consider optimal. However, cash donations may not be received well by many people -- cash doesn't feel "gift like," because people tend to put money into a mental category of "cold-hearted greedy stuff" rather than "a sincere expression of caring."
Instead, I suggest asking your family and friends to make a charitable donation on your behalf. I sent an email to those who might give me gifts requesting that, if they do give anything, please make it a donation to Vegan Outreach in my name. I encourage readers to consider trying this as well.