Overcome any lingering sheepishness about buying gift cards — people love them.
Gift cards. They don’t gush with sentiment, but once again they are the most-coveted of all Christmas gifts.
For the 12th year in a row, these prized bits of plastic remain the most popular items on wish lists, requested by 60 percent of those surveyed in this year’s National Retail Federation 2018 Holiday Spending Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.
No longer regarded as the lazy person’s go-to gift, these bits of buying power are practical and easy to purchase. You can find the gift cards just about everywhere, including gas stations and grocery stores.
But, as I’ve said in the past, don’t blindly pluck plastic currency from stores shelves. Seek out promotions because you can save on these ubiquitous gems by purchasing at a discount, earning cash back or taking advantage of abundant bonus offers and your recipient will be none the wiser.
A number of stores and restaurants — locallyowned and national chains — offer bonus cards with a minimum purchase. Dunkin’ is bestowing a
$10 bonus gift card when another valued at $25 or more is purchased online. Buy a $50 gift certificate to Yang’s Asian Bistro in Latham and you’ll receive a $10 bonus. Know that in most cases, the rewards can only be redeemed during a limited window and can’t be used until the new year, so be sure to check the fine print.
There are also a countless number of online gift card clearinghouses, like Raise.com and Cardcash.com, that purchase and resell unwanted, credible gift cards at reduced rates. Retailers like Sam’s Club, Staples, CVS, ebay and routinely offer discounts on tangible gift cards.
Sixthcontinent, said to be the fastest growing social e-commerce platform in the world, is another cash-saving option. Earn credits and points every time you log in, purchase a card, invite friends or write a review. In turn, use those perks to pay for digital gift cards you can put toward an online or in-store purchase.
“Gift cards are a great way to increase your purchasing power,” says Francesca Roveda, CEO of Sixthcontinent, who adds that getting your loved ones a gift card from a site like Sixthcontinent means you know they’ll actually enjoy what they’re getting and you’re saving money. “It’s win-win for holiday shopping.”
Savings aside, there are clever ways to step up your gift card-giving game, especially if you’re concerned they are impersonal and just, meh.
Transforming generic gift cards into appreciated presents doesn’t require Joanna Gaines-like skills. Just stick with the gist and bundle the favored gift card with something palpable for a truly heartfelt and sensible offering. Here are a few ideas:
Movie theater gift card: This really is an easy one. Pop the movie gift certificate and a few boxes of theater candy into an inexpensive popcorn tub (you can usually find them at a dollar store). Voila, you’re done.
Spa gift card: Always a popular Christmas gift, go beyond a solitary spa gift card and package it with slippers, lotion or candles so the receiver can continue to indulge at home.
Beauty store gift card: If a gift card to Sephora or Ulta Beauty are on a loved one’s wish list, wrap it with nail polish and files or a beauty brush kit for a little something extra.
Home improvement store gift card: If you’re gifting a certificate to Home Depot, Lowe’s or a similar store, punch a hole in the corner of the gift card envelope and string it around the neck of a hammer or the handle of a small tool kit. For an extra-personal touch, choose a family heirloom tool or trinket if you have one on hand you’re willing to part with.
Restaurant gift card: This one may take a tad more finesse. Just go with the restaurant theme. If it’s an Italian restaurant, pick up a set of oven mitts with an Italian chef. French restaurant? Pair the card with a bottle of champagne. Brewhouse? Go with a pair of personalized beer mugs.
Travel gift card: Ifa family member or friend likes to travel, contribute to their next trip by purchasing a gift card for an airline or hotel chain. Combine the card with inexpensive neck pillows, personalized luggage tags or a travel bag.