1. I started three weeks before Christmas instead of two. :) See, planning ahead really pays off.
2. I didn't try to make everyone presents. I stuck with just three people and bought presents for the rest. Maybe someday I'll work up to crafting for everyone, but I think for now it's best to finish a few than start a bunch and end up giving half finished projects.*
3. I only made things I was excited about making and excited about giving. It was such a good motivation this year! It's kind of obvious to give something that you're excited to give, but it helped so much that they were also presents I really enjoyed making. It just has not worked in the past to say "Oh, I'm going to sew my brother a shirt," when I hate matching plaids and am terrified of button holes. Which leads into number four...
4. I did not try out any new techniques! Stick with what you know. Stick with what you know. Stick with what you know! I got this right this year. The blouse I sewed for my sister was from a pattern I'd already made before (that didn't need button holes). This hat that I made for my cousin, and the mittens I knit for my sister both had very clear instructions, and contained nothing that I hadn't tried before.
These photos are of the hat that I made for my cousin. It was a by-product of knitting like a crazy lady for three days straight while watching Netflix till I thought my head would implode. (I don't have Netflix at home, but my sister was house sitting, so we, naturally, overdosed on New Girl, Sherlock, and Once Upon a Time)
I would highly recommend the pattern I used, Crenellated Hat, the end result was very professional. And it's free too! Here's my project page for it on Ravelry, which doesn't say much, but it links to the yarn I used.
*disclaimer; there is nothing wrong with giving half finished projects. I just have this problem where I don't end up finishing them. Ever. Which is awful.