Normally, I don't recommend pets as gifts unless the recipient can choose the pet. However, if the gift giver is a parent to a child, and the parent understands that they will be responsible for the pet's care-then it is OK. Gift certificates are OK too.
The down time from school around the Christmas Holidays is actually a good time to get a pet accommodated to a new home as long as there aren't a lot of comings and goings and hustle and bustle.
The day after Christmas is a good time then you will have an entire week before the New Year to get a new pet accustomed to the home.
And don't forget the accessories. Cats need a litter pan, litter, food and water bowls, toys, a brush, and lots of love.
If you really want to simplify your life; you should really get a crate for a new dog whether it is a puppy or adult. And the number 2 thing you should get is obedience clauses. along with bowls, food, leash, collar and harness, toys, dog license, brush, nail clippers, and a bed or blanket.
So if a gift of a pet is in your future, keep in mind that it is a big adjustment for you and your family as well as the animal. In the end you will be glad you adopted Becka's animals give unconditional love!