Alternative gift ideas

by Akie Kasai

As the holiday season approaches, it’s important to take some time to appreciate loved ones: friends, family and teachers. However, gift-giving can often be overwhelming with the cost of all the presents. The frantic rush of going out to buy presents before the holiday season plagues many families. 

Studies show gift-givers expect a positive relationship between the price of a present and how much gift-recipients would appreciate the present. They also believe that more expensive presents convey a higher level of thoughtfulness. However, gift-recipients reported no association between the price and their actual feelings of appreciation. Why bother getting an expensive offering to someone if it won’t be appreciated in the end? 

If you’re still struggling to find gifts, it may be easier to get a card. Whether that be a gift card or a greeting card, both options can save some money during the holiday season.

Gift cards

Gift cards are a safe option to give someone. According to a survey by Cashstar, most consumers prefer gift cards to physical items, but many feel guilty asking for them. 

Receivers have the freedom to buy what they personally want rather than accepting a present they don’t particularly like. Givers also indicated that being asked for a gift card for the holidays made shopping easier. 

However, the cards aren’t cheap. Visa gift card purchase fees vary by card, but the Target Visa Gift Card carries a $5 purchase fee for a $50 gift card, bringing the total to $55. Giving cash instead would avoid the $5 purchase expense. 

The expenses don’t stop there, either. Some Visa gift cards have monthly maintenance charges after a year of inactivity, so read the fine print while looking for cards that say “no fees after purchase.” 

Greeting cards

Greeting cards are a timeless tradition. A greeting card can cost anything from 50 cents to $10 but the average price of a greeting card falls between $2 and $4. They’re an inexpensive option to show gratitude toward others. 

If going out to buy a card isn’t an option, there are also ecards. They’re similar to traditional greeting cards with the main difference being that they’re created using digital media instead of paper or other materials. Online cards are known for being more environmentally friendly since they don’t require any paper to make. Because of it, ecard businesses‘ carbon footprint is generally much lower compared to paper card companies.

However, sending an ecard involves giving the recipient’s email or other personal information to the company — a third-party. The company has the ability to misuse the user’s personal information and often leads to spam emails. 

A paper card would be more memorable and personal. Most people are bombarded by countless electronic images every day.  After viewing, a digital card can be deleted, whereas a paper card will stay on someone’s desk, wall or office and serve as a reminder of the nice gesture.

Homemade cards

For a more homemade touch to gift-giving, here are a few ideas. It takes a little more effort than going out to buy a card, but card-making can be fun and a great outlet for creative expression. Many would even call it therapeutic, as the benefits of art therapy are well-known. Making a handmade card takes time and skill. They also make their recipients happier and healthier than ecards — and there is scientific research to prove it.

Here’s one DIY paint splatter card that’s easy to create for any occasion. This dip-dyed paper adds a pop of color and can be used for all sorts of occasions — not just for the holidays. For more inspiration and ideas, Buzzfeed created a list of 17 DIY stationery projects. With only a few supplies, anyone can produce a stunning final outcome. Get creative with this, and regardless of how the card looks, the person getting the card will appreciate it nonetheless.