I typed up a recipe for a simple hat and put it here.
If you, say, married into a LARGE family and suddenly have to double your holiday knitting list, a hat is hard to beat for a quick, fun knit. You can always plan to add a matching scarf next year, when you are more used to your new obligation level.
Someone asked me how to tell how many stitches are in a sweater. She wanted to figure that out and then figure out how many stitches you need to knit per day to get finished for gift-giving. I would like to have it on record that I do not recommend this. If you really knew how many stitches you would need to make, I doubt any of us would really start any sweater.
But, you could, and it would be pretty easy to get a good estimate. Conventionally, the "top" of a sweater (from the neck to the underarm) is about 1/3 of the knitting. The sleeves, together, are another 1/3. Then, the body, that is the underarm to the bottom of the sweater, is about 1/3. You could take the number of stitches around the body (ignore waist shaping) and multiply by the number of rows or rounds in between the underarm and the bottom hem of the sweater. Then, multiply this number by 3. You will undoubtedly run in fear and, I hope, burn the offending document.