I'm a big fan of gift certificates. True a tangible gift, thoughtfully selected and wrapped is ideal this holiday season. But I hold gift certificates responsible for some of my greatest experiences and in-a-pinch lifesavers.
I've been known to hoard gift cards received at Christmas or on my birthday all year long. They've come in handy when I've needed that special dress for a night out and we've frequently used them for un-budgeted dinner dates. I've pulled cards from my stash to help ease entertaining expenses (half the expense of entertaining is all the new stuff you buy and collect, am I right?) and I've used them to explore new activities, places and foods.
If you're still on the fence about what to get that special someone or struggling to find something you feel would be practical, why not consider one of the following gift options.
Adrenaline Junkie // There are many companies in your area that promote deals on high stakes adventures that your closeted adrenaline junkie relative might never purchase for themselves. You know the one... your uncle who has told you for years that they would love to paraglide off the cliffs in Malibu or base jump off the Perrine bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho. Why not help him scratch it off his bucket list?
The Culturist // Not sure what to get your hard to buy for boss who seemingly has it all? What about your sister who never has a night out but has always wanted to see a ballet or go to the opera- just once. You don't have to commit to a specific date or event right now. Performing Arts Centers offer gift certificates that can be used anytime, so the recipient can choose when to use them based on what they want to see and their schedule.
The Resolutionist // Like clockwork, every New Years Day your husband says he's going to get out and do more in the coming year. Be his cheerleader and line up some activities that will push him out of his comfort zone. Surfing lessons will help him brush up on skills he hasn't used since youth. Go-kart racing, beer tastings, paintball games, a round of golf- even a hot shave will help him look back on 2013 as the year he finally did it.
Clean House // This is one they'll stash away for that one hectic week when they feel completely overwhelmed and unproductive. One free house cleaning is the perfect gift for your party planning friend who undoubtedly spends a week cleaning up before (or after) their annual soiree. New moms will appreciate the opportunity to kick their feet up before or after the baby arrives as well.
Mobile Detail // This is another one where the gift will come to them. Why not help a pal out and extend a free car detail to them right on their own driveway. The beauty of a mobile detailer is that they can tackle all the family cars in one visit, save the gift recipient multiple trips to the local car wash and deliver a thorough cleaning they'd be unlikely to get at a commercial establishment.
Other practical services that would make good gifts: a free pool cleaning (then plan to use their pool all summer long!), a free mow and blow (hire your own gardner for the day to help a busy friend out) or even a one-time mobile grooming appointment (you're really giving peace of mind to know Fido is right outside).
Local shopping malls offer generic cards that allow recipients to choose where they want to shop. These can come in handy for a multitude of needs and just might end up saving the day during that unexpected trip during the coming year. Other practical gift cards to consider: BevMo (they'll appreciate being able to select that bottle of wine they've always wanted to try), Gas Card (perfect for the student or employee with a long commute), MetroCard (load them up and they'll be thanking you many rides later).