15 Unexpected Gift Card Ideas They’ll Love Getting—and You’ll Love Giving
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, 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 Fandango 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 2019, 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 packaging tips 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.
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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.
To buy: From $45 for a 3-month subscription; birchbox.com.
Packaging tips: Place the card in a makeup pouch that she can use later to hold each month’s offerings.
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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.
To buy: theartofshaving.com.
Packaging tips: Pair it with a sleek toiletry bag or dopp kit—chances are he doesn’t have one (or it’s worn out).
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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.
To buy: amazon.com.
Packaging tip: Let the packaging speak for itself and simply slip the card into a giftee’s holiday stocking.
From sporting events to rock concerts, this gift card will have them scoring seats to the band or baseball game that they already have marked on their calendar.
To buy: stubhub.com.
Packaging tips: Play up the fun factor and wrap the card with earphones or an old-school wristband.
One Kings Lane
They scour flea markets; they live for the auction scene. From unique decorative pieces to kitchen essentials, this site offers a plethora of options for the person who has a knack for blending the eclectic with the everyday.
To buy: onekingslane.com.
Packaging tip: Present your card in a vintage teacup or another one-of-a-kind find.
When you’ve just about had it with the “I’ll wait for it to come out on Netflix” response, this is all your co-worker or cousin needs to hit Saturday’s matinee.
To buy: fandango.com.
Packaging tips: Fill a festive container with classic movie munchies.
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.
To buy: wine.com.
Packaging tips: 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.
To buy: etsy.com.
Packaging tips: 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 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.
To buy: renttherunway.com.
Packaging tips: 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.
To donate: donorschoose.org.
Packaging tips: This much love needs only a simple festive ribbon.
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.
To buy: mouth.com.
Packaging tip: 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.
To buy: wholefoodsmarket.com.
Packaging tips: A reusable bag, of course!
For the world traveler (or someone in desperate need of a vacation), this gift card idea will come in handy. It doesn’t matter the destination or budget: Anyone can book a hotel in cities from around the world, from a five-star resort to a two-star inn.
To buy: hotels.com.
Packaging tip: Wrap the card using a map or map-inspired wrapping paper.
For the sister dreaming of a beach vacation or the BFF hundreds of miles away dying to come visit, give them extra incentive for booking that flight.
To buy: From $50; delta.com.
Packaging tips: Need an idea on the fly? Slip the card into a stylish luggage tag.
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.
To buy: seamless.com.
Packaging tips: 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.