Give the gift that's great in a pinch
When you don't quite know what the perfect gift could be, a gift certificate is always a good choice! There are so many choices that you'll have no trouble finding something for any person on your gift-giving list, from a friend or family member to a co-worker or neighbour.
Gift certificates are also available in a number of dollar values, so they can be used to meet any budget. A good rule of practice, however, is to make sure that the certificate covers the cost of a particular outing -- for example, while a $25 grocery gift certificate will always come in handy, a $25 voucher for a a fancy restaurant may lead to the recipient spending their own money on something they wouldn't normally choose.
Online Gift Certificates
Online gift certificates are becoming more and more popular as people become more comfortable shopping online. Online gift certificates are good for many large retail outlets, including online book stores, electronic stores, and even clothing stores. You can also find online gift certificates for services, such as downloading music or for online stores for video game consoles.
When buying an online gift certificate, you'll want to be cautious of a couple of things. First, that there are no hidden requirements for the person who is receiving the card, such as signing up, spending a certain amount each month, or a complicated process to use the card. An online gift card needs to be hassle-free for the person using it and should require no commitment on their part (in case they aren't ordinarily comfortable shopping online).
In-Store Gift Certificates
In-store gift certificates are still a good choice and are often more reliable than online versions. Most people can put them to use quickly, and appreciate the little extra bonus in the shopping they would do anyway. Common in-store gift certificates include grocery store cards, gas cards and cards from major big box electronic and home décor stores.
Obviously, the one thing you'll want to ensure when buying an in-store gift certificate is that the person has the store in their area. There's nothing worse than having to drive out of your way just to make use of a present! In light of this, it may be best to stick to big chains when choosing gift cards, but for a more personal gift, you may want to scope out the city the person is living in or listen for hints on their favourite mom and pop shops in the area, so you can support smaller businesses as well.
Luxury Gift Certificates
Gift certificates don't always have to be practical, sometimes they can just be about indulging. Giving someone a restaurant gift certificate to a place they usually reserve for special occasions, or pampering them with a spa gift certificate are all great ideas for luxury gifts. Other ideas include tickets to a show at the local concert hall, or even the movie theatre -- for many people, just getting out of the house for something they normally don't do is the best gift they could ask for!