When giving mishloach manos, is it OK to also have in mind that one is giving it as an expression of hakaras hatov, or should one have in mind only the mitzvah and no other intentions?
Also, there are many people that I owe hakaras hatov to. If I would buy 2 items for each one, it would be a lot of money (and for some of them, I don’t feel comfortable giving a cheap bottle of wine; I feel that it is appropriate to give them a nice mishloach manos). What should I do? Could I just not give to all of them, and should I make an effort to give to as many people as possible given what they have done for me (such as giving me free tefillin, giving me a free apartment, hosting me on numerous occasions)?
You can have in mind that it is also for hakoras hatov. The main reason is because it is a mitzva to do, and the side reason is because of hakaras hatov. Bear in mind that you are yotza after giving to one person, therefore after that is really is because of haloras hatov, and the extra one that are sent are a hiddur, but not a chiyuv.
Since you have a lot of people that you feel you have to express your haloras hatov, not giving any of them is not going to solve the issue, it will only make it worse, because then you aren’t showing hakosras hatov to anyone. Do what you can, and based on your means and budget decide to who you can afford and what you can afford.