Though there's a whole panacea of gift ideas out there for your attendants, sometimes the best gift you can give your bridesmaid and/or maid of honor is the dress itself. I had a single bridesmaid in my wedding amongst a pack kids in taffeta. Other than a few purple sashes and tartans, it was an all white wedding with my maid in a simple white silk dupioni sheath. A year later when her boyfriend proposed, she wore that same bridesmaid dress as her own wedding dress. I was flattered. Thus, I would never have asked her to pay for the dress and to this day she claims it was her greatest wedding present.
The bridesmaid dress however doesn't have to have the kind of formality my own did.  It can be a simple and versatile silhouette like the one in the header photo that can be worn again and again.  The dress below from The White Collection by Vera Wang are perfect for cocktail parties,  opening nights and dinner engagements.
Top Photo: The Holly Golightly Dress via The Fleet Collection