donating to charity in lieu of gifts--nifty resource
(This is Canada specific I'm afraid.)
You can set up your own "giving page" where you can list the charities that you prefer people donate to, with links all set up for the donator. Here's a good example of one of these pages.
(People can also set up these pages for weddings, a new baby, a graduation and a few other events.)
You can purchase charity gift cards to give to someone who can then use them to donate to any Canadian charity of their choice through the website!
You are also able to give a gift of securities donations through this website which is explained on their site.
Hope that helps someone this holiday season :)
(x-posted to poor_skills and poor_in_canada)