Essentials Are The "In" Gift This Season

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Not surprisingly, this recent MSNBC article echoes something that’s been happening on my own holiday gift list…perhaps yours too. Instead of giving a more indulgent gift… something that’s pretty or just for fun… this year, I’m planning more and more “practical” gifts. Gift cards to grocery stores… gas… the local doughnut place (a necessity for some of us)… and so it seems, are many of you out there.
The MSNBC story quoted a National Retail Federation spokeswoman as pointing out this very idea — practical gifts are in this year. Even last year, a good percentage of the gift cards given were being used for necessities like food and gas… and the trend is expected to snowball this year. 
Retailers who sell gift cards, like grocery stores, expect the interest to be high. Another variationon this theme… restaurant gift cards. When money is tight and night’s out are a treat, these types of gifts are much appreciated.
Other types of businesses are expecting gift cards and gift certificates, often big as business gifts, will be more popular than ever among the non business gift giver. Paying for heat or electricity, at least as we weather our current economic climate, is far more valuable than that ugly sweater or trendy new gadget. 
One variation on the growing gift card options are network cards that have a prepaid cash balance and can be used jut about anywhere you use a regular credit card. A signal of the growing move away from store specific cards, these items give someone the money to splurge, and the chance to take advantage of the better pricing of post holiday sales. Not a bad deal.
When it comes to packaging your gift cards, there are endless options. Specially decorated holders, just right sized gift card boxes or the smallest sized gift bags (along iwth a candy caine or other treat) can be a wonderful, festive way to gift a gift that will truly be appreciated this holiday season.
Got any of your own ideas? We’d love to hear them…
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