My gift philosophy evolves each year. This year we decided to set some money aside in June so that we could buy the boys something for the summer. There's no fun in getting a bike in December when you can't even ride it for another 4 months. For birthdays/Christmas this year, I'm going with the "buy something they are asking for." It may not be educational or useful or even something I think they'll play with for years to come. But it is something they want now, and that is enough.
We have so many toys, and so many relatives who love to give gifts, that there will never be a moment where our boys are lacking. I have adopted the "toy in - toy out" rule to try and keep things under control in our toy room here. I'm a little worried already about this year, since the boys love and play with everything that's already in there. But I figure at least half of it is going to have to go in order to make room for the new things.
Yes, this culture of consumerism worries me, and I hope and pray over the years to come that I'm able to teach the boys that toys and things are not everything, and that being lavished with gifts is a great privilege of the blessed life we lead. But I've given up trying to rein it in, since it's a fruitless expense of my efforts. This year I'm embracing the love our friends and family show through gift-giving (it is one of the 5 love languages, after all) and being grateful for it all.