We cannot time disasters but we can imagine that had the Indian Ocean Tsunami hit some days earlier, many Americans (and others) might have diverted their gifting towards worthy donations (in the name of the recipients) for the victims. Dyanmist.com points to The Command Post, a site that lists information on groups that are helping the victims and that can well use our support.
Marginalrevolution.com has recently included posts re updates and views of the "deadweight losses" that economists have pinned to traditional gifting. The researchers' results should surprise no one. There are plenty of exchanges, re-giftings, garage sales and storage space shortages that document the fact that much of America is now too materially wealthy for gifting to remain as always.
The internet can help. Families and groups of friends can post each member's favorite charities. We can then avoid the malls and the traffic and all of the other hassles that people love to complain about and make gifts that are much more significant than the stuff that we usually wrap and give. My own family has started on this path and I expect that many others have too.
The holiday sales news from Amazon and others confirms that the New Economy is, indeed, here. The New Gifting might be another idea whose time has come.