17 Unexpected Gift Card Ideas They’ll Love Getting—and You’ll Love Giving
“Gift card ideas? Not for me,” you might say when you’re stumped picking out gifts for teens or struggling to figure out what to give a distant friend. In the past, you may have flat-out refused to consider giving gift cards, but you might have scoffed too soon. Gift cards, especially when they’re thoughtfully chosen, make great gifts. They’re super useful, they give the recipient some decision-making power, and they take some of the pressure off you—what’s not to love?
Sure, the gift card was once considered the go-to present for the last-minute shopper, but now, gift card ideas aren’t exactly the impersonal gift they once were. They’re still ridiculously easy to purchase, and now they’re more personal than ever, thanks to the subscriptions and services available for every personality. In many cases, picking a thoughtful gift card that offers the recipient a new opportunity—to travel (even virtually), to try new foods, to expand their fashion knowledge—is actually even more touching than another generic sweater or lotion gift set. Gift your cinephile friend a Netflix gift card, or your foodie sister a certificate to Mouth.com so she can enjoy the best of artisanal food products.
The best gifts are the ones that get used often, and these gift card ideas are sure to be put to use as soon as the holidays are over (if not sooner). Don’t be afraid to substitute a gift card for gifts for dads or white elephant gift ideas (or any other gift need); it’s 2020, and almost everyone is sure to appreciate the thought and effort.
Before you stuff that card in a big old envelope, consider using our creative presentation ideas to make your gift card present feel extra special. You can scratch that wrapping itch, and the right packaging will enhance whatever experience the gift card offers—unless it’s an e-gift card, in which case you’ll need to work on your creative messaging.
If they don’t already have a Disney+ account to help keep them occupied, give them the gift of great entertainment with a Disney+ Subscription Card. This gift offers a year-long subscription to unlimited streaming from the service, so they can get their fill of Pixar films, Disney classics, and even some educational National Geographic content.
Gift card presentation idea: This gift card is only available digitally, so think of a truly witty (and Disney, Star Wars, or Marvel–related) quote or saying to include with the delivery email.
Give the gift of learning with a membership to MasterClass. You can purchase an All Access Pass that allows them to watch what they want whenever or give a single class to help them expand their horizons one video at a time. All Access Passes cost $180 and single classes are $90 per class.
Gift card presentation idea: This is an e-gift card, so you’ll need to use your words instead of ribbons and bows. Take some time to research classes the recipient will like and list them in the message to get them excited about using their gift ASAP.
Whether they’ve already got a well-developed green thumb or they’re just starting to get some dirt under their nails, everyone could use a new plant. Bloomscape delivers plants across the country with gorgeous planters and has a huge variety, so they can pick the plant of their dreams (thinking of you the whole time, of course).
Gift card presentation idea: Bloomscape keeps it green and only offers e-gift cards. You have the option to send it with a message, though, so include a sweet sentence or two about your hopes for their new plant baby.
Travel may have slowed down a bit, but the beauty of an Airbnb gift card is that they can use it for a future (even way-future) getaway, a staycation, or a virtual Airbnb experience. (Virtual wine tastings are all the rage now, haven’t you heard?) If their wanderlust is flaring, use this gift to remind them that they can still escape mentally.
Gift card presentation idea: Delivery options are by email or text only, so your best option for getting creative with this gift is to write a meaningful message. You only have 150 characters, so be brief—consider writing a list of the best trips you’ve taken together or a single favorite (short) travel memory.
Whether they’re celebrating a new addition to the family or just trying to get through a hectic holiday season, anyone is sure to appreciate a little help with meal planning. Blue Apron delivers everything they need for a healthy, delicious meal straight to their door, minimizing food waste, eliminating the need to go to the grocery store, and making meal cooking a little more enjoyable. (Of course, this gift card idea is best for those who still enjoy cooking but want to eliminate the prepwork of scouring the internet for recipes and searching for ingredients in the grocery store.)
Gift card presentation idea: Start their streak of home-cooked meals off right with a gifted one. Make a casserole, sweet treat, or bread and deliver it with the gift card tucked inside.
Help fund their binge-watching habit with a gift card to Netflix. They can watch all the best shows on Netflix, see movies from Netflix originals to classics to contemporary hits, and otherwise make time fly by. This card can hold as little as $25 and as much as $200, too, so you can be as thrifty or as generous as you like.
Gift card presentation idea: You’ll be sending this gift card idea through email delivery, so take some time to brainstorm the message you want to send with your gift—we recommend a quote from their favorite show that’s also streaming on Netflix.
Equip them to donate to any cause of their choice with a TisBest charity gift card. This organization offers gift cards in any increment that recipients can then use to donate to their pick of 1.5 million leading charities. They can split their donation across organizations or pick just one for maximum impact, and TisBest can print and send custom biodegradable plastic gift cards or email an e-gift card, depending on how you want to present your gift.
Gift card presentation idea: Minimize your footprint—and respect the charitable recipient’s likely ecological leanings—by sending an e-gift card with a witty message.
Whether they’re already a takeout pro or you want to encourage the every-night cook to take a break, a gift card to a food delivery service will ensure they can get fresh, delicious food from their favorite or new restaurants brought straight to the door.
Gift card presentation idea: Collect, order, or print out takeout menus from surrounding restaurants. Stack them together, place the gift card on tip, and wrap the whole pack with ribbon.
Save your friend or family member a gift to the store with an Amazon e-card he or she can put toward groceries, cleaning supplies, or other at-home essentials.
Gift card presentation idea: Let the packaging speak for itself and simply slip the card into a giftee’s holiday stocking.
When you can’t recall if it was Chardonnay or Cabernet that they prefer, this is the smart gift-giving solution. Meant for the holiday host who enjoys handpicking and ordering their bottle after the company has gone home.
Gift card presentation idea: Bundle the card with a set of cute coasters.
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When you’re looking for something handmade, personal, or truly one-of-a-kind, Etsy is the marketplace to scour. Finding that perfect present can be challenging when faced with so many creative and customizable options, until now. This card will allow gift recipients to purchase at any shop that accepts the gift card.
Gift card presentation idea: Make it truly personal: Package with an initial ornament or maybe a homemade batch of the recipient’s favorite treat.
Rent the Runway
Give the gift of fashion freedom—or fresh WFH gear—with a Rent the Runway gift card. You can either print or email the card to the lucky recipient, who will then have their pick of thousands of clothing items to rent whenever the urge to shop strikes.
Gift card presentation idea: Stash the card in a chic crossbody bag or minaudiere.
Never underestimate the power of the gift that gives back. A card to DonorsChoose.org lets your recipient be instrumental in improving the lives of students across the country. Making a difference can happen in a few ways: Think purchasing classroom supplies (pencils, reference books, lab materials) or browsing and choosing a specific project they’re most inspired by.
Gift card presentation idea: This much love needs only a simple festive ribbon.
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If your friend loves trying out the latest food trends, they’ll love shopping at Mouth, which sells unique, American-made indie food products. They can also try out monthly subscription boxes, such as popcorn or bacon of the month.
Gift card presentation idea: Attach to a serving tray or cheese board.
You can’t beat the fruit basket, but certain people like picking their own peaches and pears. For the shopper with an all-natural mentality, this idea is worth just as much as money to spend at their favorite market.
Gift card presentation idea: A reusable bag, of course!
The Art of Shaving
Help him up his grooming routine with a gift card from The Art of Shaving. The online store let customers build their own shaving kit, or purchase items such as soap, razors, and brushes separately. He can also fill out a questionnaire on the site to get personalized advice and product picks, and if he likes any of the products, he can sign up to get the shaving essentials sent to him every time he runs out.
Gift card presentation idea: Pair it with a sleek toiletry bag or dopp kit—chances are he doesn’t have one (or it’s worn out).
Each month your friend will get a sampling of five beauty products for skin, hair, and style. Each box is tailored to her own style and preferences, so it’s truly a personalized gift. Whether she’s a beauty junkie or someone who prefers a no-fuss makeup routine, she’ll love trying out new and bestselling products to find her next go-tos. With the gift card, your friend can decide when to start the subscription service.
Gift card presentation idea: Place the card in a makeup pouch that she can use later to hold each month’s offerings.
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