Practical: For people on your list who think a gift should fill a need in their life; check out these practical gift cards. The first two also make an excellent gift for someone you know who is having trouble making ends meet.
- Fuel only gift card -- Unless the person you're buying for lives near good public transportation, a gas card is one of the most practical gift cards you can buy.
- Electricity gift card -- A gift card for electricity is an extremely "powerful" gift to give this year. Just make sure you get them from the right company and have a backup, since not all power companies offer gift certificates.
- College course gift card -- The gift of education isn't just for the 18-year-old on your list; many colleges are offering learning in retirement program gift certificates which make an excellent gift for retirees. These courses are relatively cheap so you won't have to raid your 401k to pay for a class.
- Kids program gift certificates -- The youngsters on your list, and their parents, will also appreciate gift certificates for karate, ballet, art and music programs!
Services: This category is another excellent and practical one to give from this holiday season. Here are a few of our favorite service gift cards.
- Car detailing
- Gutter cleaning
Charity: Giving a gift to a charity in honor of someone is a great gift to give so long as you give to something your recipient really likes. That means you probably shouldn't donate to PETA in honor of your favorite butcher!
- World Wildlife Foundation adoption gift card -- The World Wildlife Foundation's adoption gift card is the perhaps one of the coolest ways to get a young person involved in charitable giving this year. Letting them pick out their own animal to adopt online also provides a great opportunity for some additional fun time with your recipient.
- Justgive.org gift card -- justgive.org lets you give a gift card redeemable for a charitable donation via the Justgive.org website. If you give a gift straight to charity on behalf of somebody else, make sure you check out a charity-rating site such as Charity Navigator before you donate.
- Anything else they are passionate about
Entertainment: If the previous gift cards have been too much practical and not enough play; then these ideas should be right up your alley.
- Movie tickets -- Since Americans are all still going to the movies and theaters despite the current economy, an entertainment gift card is an excellent idea.
- Symphony -- Movies too conventional? Give the gift of music -- live music, that is. Most major symphonies will let you buy season tickets or gift certificates to a concert of choice.
- Off- off Broadway -- Check your favorite venue to see if they offer gift certificates. Most do.
- Airline tickets -- Finally, airline gift cards make a great gift for those who love to travel or just live far away from their family. Pitching in towards their next trip home is likely to make you the holiday hero!
- Gamefly or Netflix subscriptions -- My current Christmas gift of choice is a gift certificate for Gamefly, a video game rental service, which is currently offering up to 20% off of their gift subscriptions! (ahem. Cough.)
There you have it: WalletPop's collection of gift cards that are easy to get but won't call you out as a last minute shopper.
What are you waiting for? A parking spot at the mall? You won't need one.