I prefer to receive individualized gifts that show that someone "really knows me" -- unfortunately, most of the things I really want I have already gotten for myself. [Buying me a book is a dangerous thing! I probably already own it.]
I also like to give personalized gifts, regardless of price (low or high) that show someone else I really know what makes them tick. However, the time that needs to be invested to shop successfully is limiting, so I only do that with a few special people.
I hate all the "gift-giving" that goes on just to fulfill social expectation. ("So-and-so got me a gift, so I need to give her a gift or she'll feel slighted, etc." Or "They're related to us, so we have to get them SOMETHING.") I would rather have it more individualized.
Money is a good alternative, since I can figure out exactly what I want and need, to spend the money on. It just still seems impersonal.