14 Unexpected Gift Card Ideas
Sure, the gift card was once considered the go-to present for the last-minute shopper–but now, it’s not exactly an impersonal pick. They're still ridiculously easy to purchase, and now they’re more personal than ever with all of the options available for every personality—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. Lastly, before you stuff that card in a big old envelope, consider using our creative packaging tips to make the present feel extra special.
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: starts at $30 for a 3-month subscription, birchbox.com
Packaging tips: Place it in a makeup pouch so she can stash each month’s offerings inside it.
RELATED: Surprising Subscription Box Ideas
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 like 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: starts at $25, 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).
RELATED: 24 Luxury Gifts for Him
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: From $10, 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 him scoring seats to the band or baseball game that he already has marked on his calendar.
To buy: Starting at $25, stubhub.com.
Packaging tips: Play up the fun factor and wrap the card with earphones or an old-school wristband.
One Kings Lane
She scours flea markets; she lives 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: Starting at $25, 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: Starting at $10, fandango.com.
Packaging tips: Fill a festive container (striped paper favor boxes, shopsweetlulu.com) with classic movie munchies.
When you can't recall if it was Chardonnay or Cabernet that she prefers, this is the smart gift–giving solution. Meant for the holiday hostess who enjoys handpicking and ordering her bottle after the company has gone home.
To buy: Starting at $25, wine.com.
Packaging tips: Bundle the card with a set of cute coasters.
RELATED: The Best Gifts for Foodies
When you’re looking for something handmade, personal, or truly one-of-a-kind, etsy.com 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.
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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: Starting at $50, 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 helping the lives of students across the country. And making a difference can happen in a few ways like 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 only requires a simple festive ribbon.
RELATED: Gifts That Give Back—That Your Friends Actually Want
If your friend loves trying out the latest food trends, he’ll love shopping at Mouth, which sells unique, American-made indie food products. He can also try out monthly subscription boxes like popcorn or bacon of the month.
To buy: starts at $25, 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 almost as much as money to spend at her favorite farmer’s market.
To buy: Starting at $20, wholefoodsmarket.com.
Packaging tips: A reusable bag, of course!
For the world traveler (or someone in desperate need of a vacation), this card 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: From $10 to $2,000, hotels.com
Packaging tip: Wrap the card using a map or map-inspired wrapping paper.