In my family, we've often exchanged handmade gifts, and were received in much appreciation. I'm always knitting winter wear at christmas; my dad does a lot of wood working; my mom makes the most decadent cookies and preserves. Everyone's got their talents.
I suppose it's the circle you float in. I know that my inlaws spend any given holiday exchanging gift certificates, and anything beyond that is nearly frowned upon.
Even being in my 20s now I've often made things as gifts for family, especially my mother who taught me to sew, knit and crochet. This year I took the risk of making something for my new mother in law, twin amigurumi elephants because my husband told me she loves elephants. She and my mom also got handmade cards. Everything was a big hit so sometimes just go for it and don't worry that something store bought would be better. Many mom's are very sentimental and always will be. What made those glitter covered cards so special back can still apply today.
My mom loves getting handmade stuff. I made her socks in my own pattern. They are a little short and a little small, but she really likes them. I think. For some reason, as much as she likes the stuff I make her, she is always too embarrassed to wear it in public. Which sucks. I am seriously hoping that it is that she doesn't like the attention handmade items get her and not that I suck and she is being nice when she says she likes them.
I used to sing my mom's favorite hymn for her in church as a solo on her birthday or mother's day, her choice. and this year with no money to speak of, my husband and I each went to church with our mothers. his cried, mine said "about time" and a good time was had by all.