Creative & Clutter-Free Gifts {Day 2} = Gift Cards

posted by Andrea | 11/27/2012

Today is the second day in my week-long Creative & Clutter-Free Gifts series… and we’re talking about creative ways to give gift cards. All week long I’ll be sharing lots and lots of creative ways to give practical and clutter-free holiday gifts that should please everyone on your Christmas list!

Monday = Food
Tuesday = Gift Cards
Wednesday = Experiences
Thursdays = Cash
Friday = Charitable Donations
Saturday = Acts of Service

Oh, and I’d love to hear your ideas too, so feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

Day 2 = Gift Cards

I used to feel bad giving gift cards because I thought they were impersonal and should only be used as a last resort when I couldn’t come up with something more creative. However, once I realized how much I enjoyed receiving gifts cards, I decided that gift cards really are a fabulous clutter-free gift.

Not only can you save loads of time standing in lines, you can also confidently give gift cards knowing that the recipient should be able to buy a gift they actually want.

Plus, if you take a little time to get creative, there’s no reason why your gift card won’t be an extremely fun and personal clutter-free gift.

Here are a few of my ideas…

1. Gas Card:

I don’t know anyone (or at least anyone with a car) who would turn down gas money. Get creative and fill a 5 gallon bucket with car air fresheners, car wash coupons, car cleaning supplies, a snow scraper, and/or car mats. They can use the bucket to wash their car and most of the other supplies will eventually get used up.

2. Movie Rental or Movie Theater Gift Card:

Package up some movie theater candy, pop corn, pop, wine, beer, tickets to a local movie theater, or a gift card to a local movie rental store for the movie-lover on your list. Or skip the “extras” and just tape a Netflix membership on the back of a king-size candy bar!

3. Mall / Clothing Gift Cards:

I don’t particularly love shopping for clothes, but mall gift cards are a special treat that forces me to find something cute. If you have a clothes-lover on your Christmas list, consider buying a somewhat unattractive item of clothing from a local thrift store (as a gag gift) and then “hiding” the gift card on the inside of that garment (or in one of the pockets).

It will be fun to see their expression when they first open the gag gift and then find the gift card hidden inside!

4. Restaurant or Coffee Shop Gift Card:

As I mentioned yesterday, restaurant gift cards are a fabulous gift — especially  for people like Dave and I who don’t like to spend money going out to eat 🙂 Of course, we’re happy with a stand-alone gift card, but if you want to dress it up a bit, consider adding a home-made coupon for babysitting {if they have children} or a plate of homemade goodies for dessert after their night out.

5. Craft/Hobby Gift Cards:

I know many people who have very specific hobbies and would love a gift card to their favorite craft supply store, art store, camera shop, car shop, antique shop, etc. Most of these smaller shops offer gift certificates that you could pair with a small item from the shop for an ultra-personalized gift.

6. Spa/Salon Gift Cards:

Almost any woman I know would enjoy being pampered for a day — or at the very least, a free hair cut! And since I know I don’t budget for fancy massages, a gift card would be a fabulous way to indulge. Pair the gift card with lotion, wine, chocolate, or fuzzy socks, and you have a fabulous clutter-free gift.

7. iTunes Gift Cards:

Almost everyone I know listens to music — and almost NO ONE I know likes piles of CDs sitting around. So give the gift of clutter-free music with an iTunes gift card!

8. Visa, Master Card, or American Express Gift Card:

This is basically like giving cash (which I’ll be talking about on Thursday)… but in a little more secure format. Your recipient will be able to purchase anything they want from almost any store (or online).

When it comes to more “generic” gift cards, I’d suggest you skip the fancy gift card holders/tins and instead stick the gift card inside a box of their favorite treats, inside the outer wrapper of their favorite candy bar, or inside a small box, then a medium size box, then a bigger box, etc.

You could even send them on a scavenger hunt with clues found in other gifts to find the gift card hidden somewhere in their home/car/purse/etc.

9. E-Gift Cards:

I do a lot of online shopping because it’s quick, easy, and I can shop when it’s convenient for me (and for Nora!). I’ve ordered pictures, clothes, diapers, home decore, electronics, and even groceries via the Internet — and I’ve noticed that many of the places I purchased gifts from offer the option to send e-gift cards/certificates to friends.

I’m also a HUGE fan of giving and receiving gift certificates. I’ve given several of these certificates and they are always appreciated — plus, it’s a nice surprise for the recipient because they come via email 🙂

One other creative idea that would work well for any type of gift card/certificate is to fill a small 4 x 6″ photo album (the kind from the dollar store) with photos… but then insert gift cards into some of the slots. We did this for my parents last Christmas and they anxiously flipped through the entire album to find all the “hidden” cards.

What are your favorite ways to give gift cards?


Filed under: FamilyHolidays

Leave a comment


  1. Kris


    I had similar feelings about gift cards as you did, Andrea. Over time, I’ve become more open-minded about them, though. For my college graduation in May, my workstudy supervisor got me a printable Amazon gift card and I loved it — I had no idea that option existed! I still haven’t used it though (I’m waiting for that just-right must-have to show up one of these days when I’m browsing the web) 🙂

    Now, when I had to buy a last-minute gift a couple weeks ago for the workstudy students I now supervise, I knew just where to turn for a gift card I could purchase, print, and slip in a thank-you card in mere minutes. And I love the option of emailing/Facebook-ing them, too!

    Long story short, I too LOVE the simplicity and ease of gift cards. (And while I’m waiting for Christmas, they also don’t take up nearly as much space in my small apartment as larger gifts would!)


    Andrea Reply:

    Yeah, we’re almost exclusively giving gift cards, cash, etc. this year. I honestly haven’t even stepped foot in the mall yet! Plus, I don’t have big bulky gifts sitting around (that Nora could get into). Win-Win-Win!!
    Merry Christmas!


    Kris Reply:

    Exactly – It’s beneficial to all! Merry CHRISTmas to you and your family as well!


  2. Shirley


    we give and receive ”gifts” to family by buying through places like Oxfam. We then “buy” chickens for our son and maybe some trees for our daughter and some family in the 3rd world get the chickens and another get the trees …..we have the pleasure of opening the card that tells us what someone donated on our behalf..


  3. Dawn


    Car wash gift certificates. 🙂


  4. Kristen @ Joyfullythriving


    I love gift cards, too! I live across the country (and around the globe) from my family so we regularly send gift cards. It’s always such a nice treat to be able go out to eat with my husband – compliments of others! I love the photo album idea, too.


  5. Michele


    I was the room parent for my daughter’s class last year and one of the things I did for the teacher was ask everyone to donate a $5 gift card to anywhere and put them in a photo album. I agree that it is such a great idea and she was thrilled.


  6. Linda


    I love to give gift cards as a gift – especially if I make a cute little holder for them. BUT…there is a high percentage of gift cards that never get used! Proven fact – my son in particular!


  7. Melissa


    Where we live there are Total Wine stores which are full of wine and spirits. This store has become one of my favorite places to buy gift cards to. I’ve never seen anyone be disappointed with that gift. They can easily be paired with a mini bottle of wine or mini bottle of liquor to fancy up the gift a little. I also love emailing Amazon gift certificates to my friends and family that live far away. It’s great to not have to stand in long lines at the post office to ship their gifts and also I know they are able to get something they’d enjoy.


  8. deborah


    I shop Dillons (a Kroger affiliate) for groceries and they also have a program that earns you fuel points. They offer double fuel points for gift cards and a few times a year they offer 4X fuel points on gift card purchases. They are offering 4X fuel points right now and I like to pick up any gift cards that I’m gifting when I can earn extra points. I often grab a few that I know we will use too.

    I love receiving gift cards! I used to kind of feel the way you did about giving them, but now I think they’re great. Especially for people who are hard to shop for.