+ Gift Guide

Gift Guide: Gift Cards People Actually Want

Some people believe that gift cards are cold and impersonal, but they can also be the perfect gift for the hard-to-shop-for individual or the person who simply prefers to pick their own present.  Here are a few gift cards that will be gratefully-used instead of being tossed into the kitchen junk drawer.

Gilt Groupe.  From designer fashions to delectable gourmet foods and local deals through Gilt City DC, a gift card to Gilt will make any man or woman smile.  Whether you’re shopping for a college student, a parent or a co-worker, everyone can find something they want on this perfectly-curated website. 

iTunes.  Shopping for college students or teenagers this holiday season? Give them movies, music, apps and games from the iTunes store.  Whether they choose Angry Birds or Gangnam Style, this is one gift card that always gets used. 

Drybar. For some women, perfectly styled hair is an obsession.  Fashionista-favorite The Drybar recently opened two locations in the D.C. area, which specialize in giving women red carpet-worthy locks. For $45, you can give the coif-obsessed ladies in your life a blowout and scalp massage, or for $100, you can give them three blowouts sans scalp massage. (Drybar: 1825 Wisconsin Ave. NW and 4840 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda, MD)

Fandango. From college students to grandparents, movie gift cards are a great option. If you don’t know what theatre is closest to a person’s home, buy them a gift card from Fandango.  They can use the card for date night, for an afternoon outing with friends or to take in a movie solo. If you know which theatre chain they use, pick up a Regal or AMC pass instead.

Sears.  Does your man fancy himself a Mr. Fix It?  Does he get really excited when it’s time to mow the lawn, repair the doorbell or fix the sink?  If so, a gift card to Sears will help him buy that leaf blower, socket wrench set or belt sander that he’s had his eye on. (Because, trust me, unless he told you EXACTLY what he wanted, he wants to pick it out himself.)  Gift cards to Sears also make a great gift for new homeowners who might need to buy new appliances or start a remodel. 

Amazon.  Is there anything you can’t buy on Amazon.com?  From this season’s hottest high-heel shoes to camping supplies and gluten-free food, this online retailer has everything.  A gift card to Amazon can be used to buy essentials or splurges so that no one gets stuck with a gift he or she doesn’t want. 

Bliss.  Does your mom, wife, assistant or friend need a spa day? Or do they just love makeup and skincare products? Either way, a gift card to Bliss makes an excellent present.  Cards can be purchased in denominations of $25, and redeemed at spa locations for services or on the Bliss website for luxurious beauty products.  This way, she can choose whether she wants a massage or a facial, a Deborah Lippman nail polish or a jar of La Mer face cream. 

So if you must give a gift card, give one that they’ll actually want to use.   



  1. gingerr says:

    Wasted gifts bother me more than a gift card. I'd rather give someone a gift card than a gift I don't think they'll enjoy or use.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. Anonymous says:

    Belle, you've compiled a great list of gift-card options. I used to be one of those people who thought gift cards were cold and impersonal. I think when you know someone really well (and hopefully you have family or friends or loved ones) where you do know them really well, you can find a gift that would suit them perfectly. I love the thought that goes into finding a perfect gift for someone. However, it can be frustrating until the moment that you do. Gaining more experience in the world where some of the people that I come into contact with, whether it is daily or not, I realized I won't have the close relationship that I do with some people, and sometimes I think co-workers, acquaintances or just hard-to-shop for people (or people who have everything) might make good candidates for gift cards. As Belle noted, some people would prefer to shop for their own things so a gift card could be a nice option. I also think if it's a thought-out gift card (either specific, such as drybar or generic enough where someone can shop in a variety of stores) it actually is a nice gift, especially where you don't know someone in the same way or have the closeness where you really should know what would make the perfect gift. I've learned to really appreciate the gift card as an option.

    December 13, 2012/Reply
  3. AbsolutelyDC says:

    I agree with the comment above. I once avoided gift cards because I didn't think they showed much thought. However, when I get really busy and don't have time to shop, it can be a lifesaver to order gift cards online and have it sent directly to someone's email. Saves the need for a card and instant gratification (for the giver and the receiver).
    The other place I sometimes give gift cards (especially for new homeowners and those just married) is to Lowe's and Home Depot.

    December 13, 2012/Reply
  4. Whitney says:

    I'm another fan of gift cards. I live 800 miles away from my immediate family and, unless they tell me over the phone what they want/need for Christmas, I'm not around them often enough to make a note of the things they might mention in passing that would make good gift options. I do know where they like to shop, though, so gift cards are a no-brainer. I love receiving gift cards as well. One year when my mom revealed that nobody knew what to get me for Christmas, I said “Starbucks Gift Cards”. I worked for a non-profit in DC at the time and the money situation could get downright bleak in the last few days before payday. I was able to eat all my meals at Starbucks for almost a week using my gift cards and it was awesome.

    December 13, 2012/Reply
  5. Amy says:

    I absolutely would not use any of those gift cards except the one from Amazon. Please don't tell people that these very specialized gift cards for hobbies and interests that many of us don't share will “definitely be used” by “anyone,” because it's just not true, and it contributes to the idea that you can buy people crap without putting any thought into who they actually are as people.

    December 13, 2012/Reply
  6. CynthiaW says:

    I didn't see anywhere where Belle said that all of these gift cards would be used by “anyone” – she gave specific examples of who might be interested in each one of them. I think that it's a nice list of things that people might otherwise not think of.

    For example, I would probably never pay to have a blow out for anything but a special occasion, but I would use the heck out of that gift card. On the other hand, I know that my sister would think that it's a horrible waste of money, even with a gift card, so I'd get her a Target card.

    December 14, 2012/Reply