You are so organized! Wow. I bow before you.
I like your Vetting Process.
Last year, I made a of people I wanted to knit for, and I divided them into a few categories.
I decided I'd make one big, complicated knit - and only one. That went to my brother - it was the Monk's Travel Satchel from Folk Bags. Lots of pieces, and large ones, too.
Another category of people got what I considered middling level projects - more involved knits, but still fairly simple. Several got a knitter's needle cushion that I modified from a pattern on the web. Others got felted entre-lac bags that were about the same amount of work.
The simplest level got beaded knitted bags. These seem complicated, but the truth is I can knit one in only a couple of days, and they pack a nice impact that belies their simplicity.
Almost all of these projects went to knitters, many of them to blog-friends, so I had no reason to worry about whether they'd appreciate knitted gifts.
I started around Halloween. For the complicated project, I made a point of doing a certain amount every day. All the others were fairly mindless knits, so I just worked them one at a time until I was finished.
I was done in plenty of time to relax by Christmas, even with some of these items being shipped to Arizona and California.
This year, I'll take pretty much the same approach. I may or may not do a super-complicated project - that depends on my stumbling upon a combination of pattern and recipient and having an a-ha! moment.
How I decided who got simple gifts, and who got mid-level gifts, was based on what our interaction had been like the year before. If there'd been a higher level of exchange over the year, they got a mid-level gift. If there was a friendly connection, but not a huge on-going exchange beyond blog comments, they got a simple gift.
Some really close real-life friends got mid-level gifts, but in my traditional style of adding lots of extra little goodies to the package. Which made the overall gifts higher-level.
It sounds more confusing than it really was. You may have to be me to really understand what I did. :)
I think you should work on how ever many projects you feel comfortable with. Some people like working on one thing at a time. Others, like me, get bored silly with only one project going. And don't even think about trying to make all the gifts "equal" or you will make yourself nuts. You can show your finished projects as links you have to click on to see if you trust your family members not to click on them if you tell them not to.
Those are my ideas....
I think the Official Gift Recipient Vetting Process sounds like a clever idea.
1. I've had success with having a couple of projects going at once...one that is portable and one that I really should just work on at home (last year a "portable" project was a hat or scarf, and the "at home" project was an afghan).
2. I think so. Because even small things look like little miracles to non-knitters (and like big miracles to non-crafty people).
3. Just give them something that they want. Perhaps use the off-season to convert them. :)
4. You can post pics with no names attached. If something is really obviously for a particular person (like, their name is knitted into it or something) it would be best to wait until after the gift has been given.
I'm starting to plan my Christmas knitting projects as well! :)
Buy somthing for your brother and Father. Knitting takes a great deal of time and if the folks won't wear the stuff get them sothing else and knit for yourself. You love hand knitted stuff and know how to take care of it. I once made an aran cardigan for a boyfriend and she washed it in the machine because she didn't like the smell of the wool. It was natural aran wool with the oil still in it. Stupid woman.
I'd stick with a- calling it a "long-range planning box" (this works especially well if you were planning say, to give the red hat to Aunt Bertha, but then Aunt Matilda spotted it on your blog and went nuts for it, well, Bertha can get something else.
I'd also say degree of complication/size can vary. There is a great trick in picking something that's personally significant to the person.
So they don't like sweaters and scarves? How about something other than a garment? Maybe a custom iPod cozy with compartments for the precise accessories they use, for example. Something that's customized for their needs that they can't buy anywhere.
I like your vetting process. Sounds solid and reasonable.
If you're planning large items (afghans, sweaters) then I'd be sure to have a "plan" to finish - so they'd be on the needles/in rotation all the time. Smaller stuff like hats and scarves can be rotated to suit your knitting time/interest level. You might want to start with a loose idea of what you'd like to make and for whom, so you have an idea of how much knitting you are 'planning' on.
I think it's fine to give different level gifts to people at the same gathering provided:
a-there isn't a hugely obvious difference, like an afghan vs. a washcloth and
b-the folks at the gathering have no idea of the "time value" or monetary value of the gift. For example, cashmere vs. acrylic yarn or an intricately cabled aran sweater vs. stockinette vest.
Oh, and be aware that despite having a long range planning box, no retail work, no school, etc., you probably will still not complete all you had planned to knit for Christmas. It's one of those "black hole" kind of things. You will always find something more to knit for someone so you will run out of time.