Friday, December 14, 2012

Your Essential Holiday Gift (Card) Guide

My Part Time Authors colleagues have done a smashing job this week of giving you ideas for those special people in your life, i.e. your kids, your women, your readers, and Chris Clark. But what about the rest? What if you've procrastinated until Christmas Eve or you get word that the neighbor you hardly know got you an iPad Mini?

Shhhhhh. Rest easy, friend. I've got you. There, there. I've got you.

Gift cards. Boom.

The perfect gift for when you don't have time, shipping funds, or creativity to spare. Or you don't know what to get your parents and they tell you they love getting them because it's better than another quote book by Neal A. Maxwell.

Still, knowing who to get them for specifically and how much to spend can be a stressful task. Here's what I would do (have done):

Specialty Gift Cards
These are great for someone you care about but they aren't in your immediate family and you only have limited information about their likes and dislikes. If you know your Aunt Eunice loves Kneaders, bingo, a $10 gift card there has you covered. Caution: Make sure you give the person enough on the card to get something without also using their own funds. Don't get your cousin a $10 gift card to J. Crew. They won't be able to get anything.

Prepaid Credit Cards
Prepaid credit cards are good for someone you can't peg. Do they like music? Do they like movies? Do they like groceries? It doesn't matter! They can get whatever they want! On a more serious note, when I was poor and single, I loved getting these because it meant I could get gas in my car and a movie ticket. It's really helpful for those strapped for cash. $25 is good here.

Restaurant Gift Cards 
If your long lost high school friend loves chain restaurants you could get a Cheesecake Factory gift card. For those who are "foodies" you can get them a Cheesecake Factory gift card and then laugh later about how they had to go to that poorly decorated abomination. I kid. People love food and going out and, if you really want to impress, give them a "date night" set of cards that let's them eat and then enjoy a movie or bowling. $25, or enough for two people to eat and give a tip.

Department Store Gift Cards
Great for the more "mature" tastes on your last minute list. Seniors, maybe all of us, love gift cards to Macy's, Nordstrom, or Sears. They can get a scarf, jewelry, make up, shoes, etc. You may need to give more ($50) but at least your mother-in-law can get something they really want. That will make everyone happy.

Amazon Gift Cards
This is what I'd love. If you are a human under the age of 60, you can't go wrong here. Any $.

That's it. So, tell me. What else is there? How have you used gift cards? Do you hate them? Express your feelings in the comments.

Also, this post borrowed a few ideas from a post you can read here.

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