As a rule of thumb, I avoid gift cards at all costs. I figure that if I know a person well enough, I should know thier taste in clothes, or games, or if they would enjoy getting silly gifts like a Jar Jar Binks mask (true story, bro).
The only exception to this rule is getting a gift card among other things, or if the gift card is for dinner- that way you both get to spend time together and eat delicious food. That's really the most important part of a holday, right? Food? Delicious, yummy, food?
My point is this, just spend a little time mulling over your options because it will show. You don't want to go in there throwing gift cards around like dolla dolla billz lookin' like the thoughtless guy who just showed up to the party for free food.
This year I have decided to spend the majority of my money on Etsy. This is because there are a lot of businesses on there run by hard working individulas who deserve my money more than Wal Mart. If this situation was my childhood, Wal Mart would be the monster under my bed (who aslo has candy, so it ultimately is still tempting to meet him) and Etsy would be the morning sun rising to cast the monster back into the shaddows!
If you look around, you will quickly discover that the items on Etsy are for the most part very affordable, and completely unique.
I've already written a blog dedicated to this topic, so I will keep it short and simple.
Urban outfitters is da bomb diggity for gift shopping since they narrow all books down to the cool ones, and they have really good random shit, yo.
I love giving and recieving sentimental gifts! I think they're just sweet.
That being said, if you're a little light in the wallet, they are essential in getting through the holiday season. Not only does it show you care, but using simple or recycled materials with a personal meaning can make you save a bunch of money.
Most importantly, if you're busy creating collages, or writing a poem, (or whatever sentimental whorish craft you've chosen) you get to learn a new skill!
Suddenly you put that shit on your resume, and people are all "ooohhhhh, you know how to paper mache balloons into lanterns???????????" Yes, all of those question marks are audible.
Do you have a frienemy?
Do you have an aquaintence who will give you a five dollar Starbucks gift card just to get something in return?
Are you just a cold hearted bitch?
Perfect. Skip that headache! Even if the lame person gives you something, have no sympathy!
Playa's gotta play.