Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Giving and receiving gift cards creatively (last minute panic gifting...) #GiftCardsRock

With just a few short days until Christmas, I am mostly finished with my gift buying.  I generally try to select something that the recipient would truly love.  However, that effort can feel nearly futile for friends or family that I don't know very well.  Case in point:  What do I get my brother?  I've never been in his apartment, so there's no chance to take note of decor, notice whether he's got an old coffee pot that could use an upgrade, what kind of beer he likes to keep on hand... you get the idea.  For the hard to shop for or has-everything person on your list, a gift card may be the best gift you could give them!  has teamed up with SocialMoms bloggers to find some tips on creatively giving gift cards to friends and family and learn a little about why I love to give and receive gift cards... so without further ado, I'll share some of my favorite gift card tips!

Three creative gifting ideas...

As a part of a gift basket - One creative way to give the gift of a gift card is to tie it into a theme.  If your recipient is an avid moviegoer, it is easy to throw together a movie themed basket with snacks, popcorn, and a gift card to AMC or another theatre.

Gift card holders - Want that joy of learning they received a gift card to last a little longer?  Put it in a puzzle box that they have to solve before retrieving their gift.  Check out this one!  Kids would definitely love it.

Target gift coins - Who says gift cards have to come in rectangles?  The holidays mean more gift card options at Target (some are very collectible like the Lego one this year) and they even offer gift coins that you can assign a money value to.  They're about the size of a half-dollar and would fit easily into a stocking!

Why I love gift cards... 

I am, admittedly, a pain to shop for.  I rarely want things, since I think I'm a fairly simple blue jeans and t-shirt kind of girl.  For me, giving me a gift card gives me the option to take the time I need to find that perfect gift.  I do love letting the giver know what I selected too - and doing so is not only good manners, but also gives them an insight into your tastes.  One of the best things I have ever purchased with a gift card would have to be a computer.  Well, I didn't pay the whole thing, but I did use a $50 Sears gift card from my MIL and FIL to put toward the very first computer that my husband and I ever owned.  Little did I know then where a computer would lead me!   Other than that, I have used gift cards I've gotten to Amazon to feed my need for books.

Giving gift cards may feel impersonal to someone, but from my perspective, it allows me freedom to choose something that I would like.  A lot of gift cards have no expiration, I can feel like there's no rush to run out right away.  If I need a sweater, I can wait for a good sale.  

I also try to keep some gift cards on hand in case of a gift emergency!  They are an easy, last minute gift.  I love that stores are now offering multipacks of gift cards in smaller increments - it makes it so easy to give a gift card paired with a small gift to a friend or family member.

Buying gift cards has its perks...

One thing that I do as a frugalista is look for ways to save money, or even better, earn it.  Living here in Virginia, I sometimes find rebates for buying gift cards, particularly around the holiday season.  In that case, I buy a gift card before making my purchase at the store I happen to need something from (usually a grocery store) and then I use it to pay for my purchase, saving the receipt for the gift card for the gift card rebate.  Pretty slick, eh?  Last year, I received a $10 rebate on a $50 gift card purchase.

Grabbing gift cards you need for holiday gift giving at grocery stores that participate in fuel perks is an easy way to boost your total points to get a bigger discount.

Plus, if you need gas and your Walmart has a gas station, always get a gift card first (you can go right up to the window and buy one) to get the fuel discount associated with paying at the pump with a Walmart gift card.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post!  If you have any other tips for getting the most perks out of your gift card purchases, please share!  I often redeem my Cash Back balance for gift cards, where most cards offer $25 gift card for a $20 Cash Back redemption.  In that case, I make $5 each time I redeem for gift cards.  One time, I won a Meijer gift card from a contest and the nearest Meijer was in Ohio, several hours away.  I sold it on eBay for close to the whole amount, though not quite.  In that case, I was able recoup most of the value of the card and spend that PayPal cash somewhere else.  There's lots of places to trade or sell gift cards you receive for stores you don't shop at, so bear that in mind this holiday season.

Please comment!

What is your favorite gift card to receive?  I am a huge fan of Target.  I can usually find clothing that suits my taste there.  I'd also love to learn about your own creative ways for giving gift cards. 

Disclosure:  I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Gift Cards Rock blogging program, for 6,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

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