Here’s the scenario: you watching in disbelief as a member of your family is opening the same gift you’re giving them- from another person!! Having had this experience myself, I have some good ideas on handling this situation because hindsight is always 20/20 as they say! If you are given a very short notice that you have a duplicate gift- for instance, you find out the same day that your brother is giving your mom the same thing- you can do a few things: Pick up gift certificate for whatever amount the gift was (you can return it, or give it to someone else). There are gift certificates for ALL sorts of places (All types of chain restaurants, The Gap, Old Navy, Bath and Body Works, iTunes, and more) and you can find these gift cards at the grocery store! Like Smith’s, Kroger, Target, Walmart, or even 7-11’s!
Another safe be for you can do is to buy a magazine that they like and tell them they will be getting a year of this magazine (then you just fill out the subscription form and send a check or include your address to be billed).
You can also order something online, print out a photo of it and then put that in an envelope. This would also work if you are making something like a sweater, or scarf or some hand-made project and it’s not finished yet.
For the unfortunate situation where you are watching a loved one open the same gift that you are giving, with no warning whatsoever, you are going to have to think fast! The best thing to do is be prepared by either giving a unique handmade gift- for links to many great hand-made gifts, check out How to Give Gifts With Style http://www.ehow.com/how_4679689_give-gifts-style.html
But you can very simply be prepared and when you go to your gift-giving celebration, bring a couple of magazines that everyone likes, and grab it from the car and say that you’re giving them a subscription. Most people are going to be pretty understanding when they see that you did give them the same gift as someone else.