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    Fun thanksgiving decorations that make your holiday special

     

    Thanksgiving is a time in which we remember the people in our lives that are special to us. This year take the time to decorate your home in honor of this very special holiday. You can show your friends and family just how much they mean to you this Thanksgiving season. Here are a few decorations that will make this Thanksgiving one that will be remembered for many years to come. Make your Thanksgiving table a thing of beauty with a table runner with gold, browns, or burnt orange colors. Emboss the table runner with stamps in fruit and nut shapes or use iron-on decals to decorate your table runner. Buy several pillar candles in one solid color and place each on silk fall leaves. Group your candles in various heights and place a few nuts or small gourds at the base of the candles for a special fall look. Decorate your Thanksgiving buffet table with fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts in brass or silver bowls and baskets. You can also use artificial fruits and vegetables if you want to keep your beautiful buffet table in place for several weeks or the entire month. Make garlands from leaves, fruits, berries, and fall colored ribbons to hang from doorways and any place you would normally hang a Christmas garland. You can also purchase bundles of wheat and tie wide, wire-edged ribbon around the center and hang from your fireplace and on doors. Make place cards for every member of the family and any other visitors you may be entertaining and include a note to each written inside the place card of why you are thankful for that person and what they mean in your life. Your guests and family members will be touched by your thoughtfulness and the effort you made to make them feel special. Think of all the places you decorate with reds and greens at Christmas and instead place fall colors and Thanksgiving decorations that you can purchase in your local discount or hobby store. These simple ideas will transform your house and make your guests thankful for you.

         
    Funny gifts. to give or not to give

     

    When deciding whether or not to send someone a funny gift, consider the following two things in order to avoid potentially embarrassing your receiver. First and most importantly, consider your relationship with the recipient in judging the appropriateness of your humor. A secretary, for example, should not give her married boss a suggestive gift on the occasion of his retirement, and likewise, a boss should not give his secretary such a gift in recognition of her tenth anniversary with the firm. Second, consider the occasion, and err on the side of conservatism whenever doubt exists as to whether or not it calls for humor. It is never appropriate, for example, to give a gag gift to a bride or groom on their wedding day, nor is ever acceptable to send a card or gift that makes fun of something personal such as a person’s appearance, health or age. Unless you are absolutely positive of the recipient’s sense of humor, it is better, as a rule, not to send gifts that are humorous if there’s a chance they might offend. If you simply cannot resist the temptation to yuk it up at your friend’s expense, practice at least some degree of restraint in choosing the gift by keeping a few common-sense rules of etiquette in mind. Always consider carefully your receiver’s audience at the time your gift is revealed. Will there be children present at the party? Will someone’s wife be offended by what your gift implies? Ask yourself if a loved one’s feelings might be hurt when they open up a gift that makes fun of their personality, their physical appearance or their age? Even if your recipient seems to possess a great sense of humor when he or she is alone with you, that does not indicate a “green light” for you to give a funny gift that teases. Always remember that there are people out there who enjoy dishing it out and playing their jokes upon others, but when the tables are turned, they cannot take your ribbing no matter how harmless it may seem to be. It is in this way that some people are more selective than others in maintaining a sense of humor. If this is the case with your friend, you are a better off in taking the highroad than in choosing a gift that may cause his haunches to rise. Remember too that what you and your friend once shared as a private joke between you many years ago, may not seem so funny to him now. Understand and accept that with maturity, a person’s perception as to what is funny and what is not may change with time. So think twice before you decide to send or give a funny gift, and always remember that a gift is more than just a gift, it is an affirmation of the relationship that you share with your recipient right now. If you do decide to send a funny gift, be sure that it is one that will not only make the recipient laugh, but that his guests will laugh as well. An appropriately funny gift should also turn out, somehow, to be useful later on, after the occasion has past. Does all of this serious talk about gift giving take the wind out of your sails when it comes to showing your good cheer? Well don’t let it, because there are certain types of gifts that you can give that do manage to tickle a funny bone while remaining well within the bounds of what most people would consider acceptable humor. Traditionally, these gifts are items which are not normally given as gifts, but for the circumstances of the occasion make them funny in and of themselves. The young graduate, for example, who is sure to set the world afire, may be given a fancy lighter to start him blazing down his path. Later on in life, when he’s succeeded in making partner, he may display or keep the lighter as a reminder of his earlier days. Gifts of anticipation can also be humorous in a good hearted in a unique and sentimental way, and these gifts are the easiest to give when one’s financial situation does not allow for something bigger. As an example, a young sailing enthusiast might be given a world map wrapped up with a card that expresses something like the following : We hope that the enclosed map will help you to find all of the treasures of the world, and, the quickest way back home should you find yourself in need of a hot shower and a place to get your laundry done for free. One last thing to keep in mind when choosing funny gifts for women, as a rule, woman are less appreciative of such things, especially when the gift is given by a male. According to a large-scale survey, the percentage of females who are receptive to receiving funny gifts is very insignificant in comparison to men. The reason is not likely to be that women in general lack the sense of humor of men, but more likely, it is because most women do not like to be made to feel as though they are being laughed at in any way. Just as women don’t commonly like to talk about their age, neither to they want do be reminded of it by the so called funny cards and gifts they are bound to receive when turning yet another year. In general occasions of gift giving are taken more seriously by women and by nature, women are more sensitive, and more likely, therefore, to be upset by someone’s clumsy attempt at being funny. It is always best with women to be sincere in your attempt to recognize an important occasion; always remember that with women, it is not about the gift itself, its about the thought that you put into picking it out for them. For her, it is your intention that turns a humbly wrapped trinket into precious treasure every time.

         
    Get ready the smart way for your thanksgiving trip

     

    In a very short time Americans will be off in masses for family gatherings for the Thanksgiving holiday. While staying home is the best advice the reality is that this holiday is the most heavily traveled in the country. Regardless of the delays, exhaustion and memories of arguemetns from last year, we're all heading out to do it again. You can get ready and be less stressed than last year with a few easy Thanksgiving travel tips. Pack light. Carry one soft side bag. The one thig to count on at this time of year is long lines. Set your mind that delays will happen. If you pack light you can move around more easily while waiting for that late bus, train or plane. Take a special book, magazine or DVD movie for those delay times. If you have something special to do while waiting the time goes much smoother. Pack low-sugar snacks and drinks. Travelers don’t need a sugar rush while waiting or in cramped quarters. Flying Arrive at the airport two hours prior to scheduled flight departure time, both on the outbound and inbound trips. This is once you get into the terminal. Build in extra time to park your car. Remember, lots and parking resources will be filled so making a reservation at an off site parking facility will help. Most of them take holiday reservations with a deposit. Stay Informed. Stay in touch with real-time flight status on the airline's web before heading to the airport. If you have an e-ticket the kiosks and skip ticket counter lines. Most airlines have these now so use them. Consider full-service curbside check-in if you have ski, snowboard, golf or sporting equipment. Expect to stand in long lines. Expect planes to be jammed. On board stowage space will be critically limited so again, take only one small soft side bag to slip under the seat. If you are taking a gift leave it unwrapped. Most security checkpoints will now require you to unwrap wrapped gifts. Better yet, mail it on ahead a few days before your plane flight. Driving If you are hitting the road in your car and driving, make sure its in good working order. Check you oil, water, washer fluid and tire pressure. Make sure you pack emergency supplies in case you get stranded. Take fresh containers of drinking water. If you are in colder areas take blankets and warm jackets, tire chains de-icer. Plan your trip so you do not return on Sunday. It' not recommended to drive on the SUnday after Thanksgiving. It is the worst, most traffic-heavy day of the year. Try leaving Saturday or staying through Monday. Take games. Better yet, if your vehicle or laptop has a DVD player, take movies. There’s no shame in a quiet, fight-free ride on the way home. See you on the road!

         
    Getting over the christmas giving blues take the christmas budget challenge

     

    Getting over the Christmas Giving Blues? Take the Christmas Budget Challenge. Written by Bernie Wiemers Copyright 2005 my-wealth-plan With Christmas just around the corner, our focus is slowly starting to shift from our work commitments to Christmas and with it comes the annual Christmas spending spree. Unfortunately many families don't set a Christmas budget and they rely on their credit cards to get them through the festive season. Shortly after Christmas these same families will also develop symptoms of the "Christmas Giving Blues" which can include an upset stomach, lack of sleep and anxiety. You know that feeling. You spend up big, charge it on the card, and then spend the next couple of months worrying about how you are going to pay off your Christmas debts while vowing never to let this happen to you again. Unfortunately, this is a reality for a lot of families every Christmas and they just don't seem to be able to break out of the cycle. This year, give yourself and your family a Christmas gift and take the "Christmas Budget Challenge" and enjoy your Christmas without the suffering the Christmas Blues. There are two parts to the Christmas Budget Challenge: 1. Put in place a strategy that will help you survive Christmas with as little pain as possible. 2. Put in place a strategy that will give you a plan to enjoy your next Christmas. This plan will also run itself without you even thinking about it. Let's start by putting in place a plan that will hopefully make this Christmas a little easier on your hip pocket: 1. Have a look at your finances and set an upper limit that you can afford for your Christmas spending. Allocate a certain amount to Gifts and a certain amount to other Christmas expenses. This is the start of your Christmas budget. 2. Leave the credit card at home and pay for Christmas with money wherever possible. 3. Keep track of all your Christmas spending. A good way of doing this is by carrying a small notebook and pencil and writing your purchases in it. Gift Buying 4. Call your relatives and agree that Gifts will only be purchased for the children 5. Take your Christmas Gift budget that was allocated in step 1 and divide it by the number of gifts you need to buy. This number will be the maximum you can spend on each gift. Christmas Food Shopping 6. Take your Christmas Dinner budget and make a shopping list. 7. When you are doing your shopping use a calculator to make sure you stay within your Christmas budget. 8. Save money by looking for the cheaper priced goods on the top and bottom shelves. Try not to buy items that are on shelves at eye level, these are usually the higher priced items. 9. Try not to buy items that are located in the displays at the end of the shopping aisles, these items are usually more expensive than the items located in the aisles. 10pare prices of similar items and buy the cheaper item. 11. Remember that Christmas is only one day a year. You don't have to spend a weeks worth of grocery money on one day. 12. Ask each relative to provide a food dish, drinks or dessert. As soon as Christmas is over and the pain is fresh in your mind. You need to take action and put in place the second part of the "Christmas Budget Challenge". This next step will ensure that you have enough money for next Christmas 1. Add up all your Christmas expenses including gifts, food and any other costs. 2. Take the total of your Christmas expenses and divide it by the total amount of pays until next Christmas. 3. Open high interest bank account with the following attributes: - No minimum starting balance - Interest is accrued daily and billed monthly - Interest rate on this bank account must be higher than the inflation rate. - No bank charges ING Direct and Citibank have an online banking account that may be suitable for your Christmas Budget account. 4. Organize an automatic bank transfer from your bank account to your Christmas Budget account. This transfer will be on each payday for the amount you worked out in step 2. It is important that this is automated because most people will not stick to this plan if it is a manual process. 5. When next Christmas comes around withdraw your money and repeat the process again. You can get a free excel "Christmas Budget Challenge" spreadsheet from my-wealth-plan/christmasbudget. zip. Use this spreadsheet as a template for your Christmas Budget, This plan is very simple and surprisingly effective and you will be able to enjoy your next Christmas without the suffering the Christmas Giving Blues.

         
    Gift basket an excellent choice for mother s day

     

    This Mother's Day, I've decided to pamper mom with a gift basket. With so may available options, it's no wonder more people are choosing gift baskets as a way to express gratitude for a job well done. In this case, the "job well done" was raising my siblings and I to be civilized adults despite our propensity to make that an almost impossible task. I think I'm going to get mom a home spa gift basket so that she can pamper herself in the one place she feels completely comfortable...home. A friend of mine sent me the same gift basket last year after I received a promotion at work and I can tell you from experience that the salts, rubs and bath oils contained within had me wanting to stay in the bath all weekend long for several weeks after. Then again, I might get mom a gourmet gift basket so that she can indulge in the delectable offerings from overseas gourmet food shops. It's true that theirs no better way to a person's heart than through the stomach, at least in my family. Of course, there's always the chocolate gift basket. This would inevitably be met with gratitude until the chocolates are all gone, at which point I would be reminded that I "forced" mom off her diet. Then again, I imagine dad would be all too happy to help alleviate her of the responsibility of enjoying all the wonderful chocolates contained theirin. To be honest, it's hard to choose just one gift basket to send. Maybe I'll have a customized gift basket made to give mom even more items to enjoy. I guess that's the toughest part of buying a mother's day gift. How can you possibly express all the feelings you have toward someone who has give you so much of herself with just one gift? The nice thing about gift baskets is that they are, indeed, much more than just one gift. In fact, a gift baskets almost guarantees me that mom will find something she can enjoy, and that's just one of the things I have to be grateful for on Mother's Day.

         
    Gift basket gets the attention

     

    Over the Thanksgiving holiday, our family found itself in an odd situation. My husband had recently been promoted within his company, which resulted in our moving to a new city. We made the move in mid-November, which made planning for Thanksgiving virtually impossible. There was so much to do in regard to closing on a new home, selling our old home, the move itself and getting settled that we decided to have a simple Thanksgiving instead of the feast we normally prepare. The day before thanksgiving, with boxes still unpacked and the kids trying to adjust to the new surroundings, we received a gift basket from my husband’s coworkers whom he had worked with for several years. The basket itself was huge, containing gourmet food products from around the world. Both my husband and I were humbled and thankful for this gesture as we marveled at how big the basket was. Still, we placed it on top of the refrigerator and went right back to work trying to get things in order. The next day, for the first time ever, we found ourselves enjoying Thanksgiving over a pizza. Needless to say, it was a little depressing for everyone. After we ate, we sat at the table and milled over what still needed to accomplished to get settled in. We were all tired, and the feeling of family closeness that usually accompanies Thanksgiving Day was replaced by a general malaise. My husband remembered the gift basket we had been sent and brought it to the table. We opened it together and started sampling all the wonderful fruits, meats, cheeses and desserts it contained. Pretty soon, we were all talking and laughing about Thanksgivings past and our hopes for the future. I think we sat at the table together as a family longer than we ever had previously. Having all this great food to try out seemed to live everyone's spirits and remind us that we were still a family and that even a complicated move couldn't stop us from enjoying the holiday together. I am grateful for that gift basket, and for a Thanksgiving I'll always cherish.

         
    Gift basket heaven

     

    I love receiving gifts, and let's face it...who on earth doesn't. Getting flowers from my husband always makes me feel special. The cards I get from the kids on my birthday and the holidays are precious to me. Still, there is one gift I look forward to more than any other. I have an aunt who I have always been very close to and who sends me a gift basket every year for Christmas. In over ten years of receiving gift baskets from her, I have never had the same basket twice and I have never felt anything less than sheer joy over what she sends. I have had gourmet gift baskets of meats, cheeses and crackers, chocolate gift baskets, wine gift baskets, home spa products baskets and many others. I guess I just really enjoy the fact that it's so many gifts in one. There's something incredibly special about opening a gift and being presented with a wonderful array of products to choose from. No matter what the theme is, I feel like a kid in a candy store. Each year, the hardest thing for me to decide is what to try first. Over the years, I have come to look forward to and enjoy the gift baskets more than any other gift I receive. Last Christmas, my aunt ordered the basket late and it arrived a few days after the holiday. Despite all the wonderful gifts I received from friends and family, I really missed having a gift basket. It felt as though something I enjoyed so much for so long was absent. When it finally arrived, it was like Christmas all over again for me. Since my aunt started sending me gift baskets over a decade ago, I have sent her one each year as well. We always talk after the holidays about what we enjoyed the most. I think we're both addicted to them. In recent years, I started sending them to other friends and family. Never before have I felt so sure that my gifts were well received as I do now. Everyone seems to love them and I get a lot praise over my choices. I think people enjoy sampling items that they might not think to buy or that are unavailable is a real treat. Personally, one of my all time-favorites was a selection of Swiss chocolates that were better than anything I'd ever tasted here in the States. I still think that if I had never tasted them, I wouldn't know just how delicious chocolate could be. The next time you are wondering what to send for a gift, I recommend a gift basket. You'll be surprised at how much it will be appreciated and enjoyed.

         
    Gift basket surprise

     

    I received a gift basket from my mother-in-law several months ago, who told me in advance she was sending it. My traditional view of gift baskets is not necessarily a good one. The phrase "gift basket" conjures up pictures in my head of summer sausages and Florida fruits that eventually go bad for a lack of being eaten. I can now say, unequivocably, that the stereotype I held in regard to gift baskets is no more. When the gift basket arrived, I was taken aback and somewhat pleasantly surprised by its contents. It was a spa products gift basket, with bath salts, body, face and hand lotions, bubble bath, cocoa butter rubs and soaps, exfoliators, facial products and body mist. I decided there was no time like the present to see if I might like any of the products, so I decided to give them a try. I'm usually very particular about what I purchase in regard to bath products, so I was skeptical that I would enjoy any of these, all of which I had never heard of. Let me say that without a doubt, these were the finest bath products I have ever used. Not only did I enjoy them, I wanted to know more about them and where they came from. I found out the name of the website where the basket was purchased through my mother-in-law. Looking around, I saw that these were European spa products and with a little searching, could easily be ordered online. That was the information I needed, but the real surprise came from seeing all the different gift baskets available. If you can name it, there seems to be a gift basket out there for it. I simply had no idea how much variety there now is in being able to choose a gift basket. Since my first great gift basket, I've sent several to friends and loved ones. I always get a lot of compliments on my choice of gift, as today's gift baskets can be suited to any person or family. I'm really thankful that I now know what a great option these are for sending a gift.

         
    Gift baskets a great way to celebrate easter

     

    Easter is such a special time of year. I can recall fond memories of Easters past when my mother and father would hide brightly colored eggs in the yard and send my sisters and I out to find them. What joy we had running around the yard, looking in every nook and cranny for the eggs we had hand decorated together as a family. As I recall, whoever found the most always received a special gift, usually a dollar or two. That was a lot of money to us kids in those days. After the hunt, we would eat dinner together and then my parents would give each of us an Easter basket. They were smart to make sure we had dinner first, knowing full well that we would never touch our food if we were given the baskets beforehand. I can still recall the happiness we shared, eating our chocolates, jelly beans, marshmallow candies and other sweet treats. I think I always enjoyed digging through the plastic green "grass" the most. It was like discovering gold to dig through the basket and find one of the last few treats which had fallen to the bottom. Today, I get just as much enjoyment from watching my children having the same fun I had as a child. It's wonderful to view the next generation enjoying the traditions of the past that still remain so much part of our culture. Today, however, I give Easter gift baskets to my children, my siblings, and close friends every year at this time. They're wonderful for the kids and the adults all appreciate them as well since, like me, they remember the joy of getting an Easter basket. Easter gift baskets are filled with delectable treats that both children and adults can enjoy. I order enough for my friends and family and my extended family as well since Easter gift baskets can be shipped anywhere. I find that they make a great gift for kids or for the kid in all of us. This year, I may even order one for myself. I may be older, but I still have a sweet tooth!

         
    Gift baskets offer a variety of holiday treats

     

    It never fails that each and every year, I have a hard time deciding what to purchase for friends and relatives around the holidays. Lately, I've been sending gift baskets as these are the one gift that I know will be appreciated. There are two reasons why I feel a gift basket is a wise choice, especially for holiday gift giving. The first reason is that gift baskets can be tailored to suit any taste or any person. There was once a time when "gift basket" meant fruit and fruit alone. Thankfully, those days are long gone. While you can still get great fruit gift baskets if that's something you're interested in, there are so many other options available today. Gift baskets have evolved to reflect the different people and personalities they can be purchased for. From wines and imported food products to perfumes and toys, there is a gift basket out there for every age, gender and interest. Even knowing just a little about the person you are buying for is enough to get them a gift basket they will love. The second reason I feel that gift baskets make a great gift is variety. What other gift can be given that contains so many choices? As an example, sending a chocolate gift basket is a safe bet for chocolate lovers because with so many different types of chocolates in the basket, they are sure to find at least a few that they enjoy. Let's face it, even if a person likes some more than others, isn't being able to try them all out the true reward of receiving a gift basket? Instead of limiting your giving options, gift baskets allow you to give a gift that is tailored specifically for the individual and that contains enough choices to satisfy. For these reasons, gift baskets really are the perfect gift.

         
    Gift baskets popular for expectant and new mothers

     

    I've been to a lot of baby showers and births lately. From my daughter-in-laws second child in three years to a family friend's and even my younger sister's, I've had plenty of opportunity to ponder what makes a great gift for an expectant or new mother. After reading facial expressions from multiple mothers and mothers to be as well hearing a lot of feedback, I think I've come up with the ultimate solution: the baby gift basket. Baby gift baskets are filled with products that can help every new mom, from toys and towels to bottles and bibs. Not only that, baby gift baskets can be purchased for boys or girls, allowing you to customize for the new delivery. At the most recent shower I attended, one of the guests gave a baby gift basket containing several items that are indispensable to new moms, but are often forgotten until they are needed. As we all looked through it to see just what was inside, I couldn't help but think of what a wonderful gift that would have made back when I had my children. There were receiving blankets, hooded terry towels, undergarments, wash cloths, several powders, lotions and soaps, safety scissors for cutting baby's hair, a pacifier, a bottle, plush toys and so much more. Whoever came up with the baby gift basket obviously had children, because it was almost like a survival kit for moms. I can still remember having my husband run out to get many of those things one at a time. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but that's what a baby gift basket is all about. Giving new moms the items they will need so that they will have them on hand when they are necessary. At my next shower, I'm going to be the one giving the baby gift basket. Who knows... with my husband and I talking about having one more child, the next baby shower I attend might very well be my own. Maybe I'd better tell him about baby gift baskets.

         
    Gift buying blues

     

    Why does buying gifts have to be so difficult? We have no idea what to buy for some people on our gift list. For others, the only things that come to mind are expensive or impossible to find. We hold a fear that what we buy will not be appreciated or used. Giving money or gift certificates to those closest to us doesn't seem appropriate because the gifts are not personal enough. There is one gift that is appropriate for any person and occasion. This gift can change the receiver for the better. It can provide positive thoughts of you even after years have passed. What is that gift? It is a book. There are books that cover any interest a person might have. There are books for every age. There are inspirational and motivational books that can ignite a significant change in its reader. There are books in print, audio and video. When the person that received the book looks at it and experiences it, the feelings they have for that book are also felt for the one the gave it to them. If you are having a difficult time finding the appropriate gift for someone you love, consider a terrific book. Both of you will be glad you did.

         
    Gift card

     

    While online and retail holiday shopping sales have met or exceeded expectations for most retailers in 2005, there is another "rush" for all retailers to prepare for: gift card redemption. According to Hitwise, an online intelligence service, the market share of U. S. Internet searches containing the words "gift card" was up 32% for the week ending December 10, 2005 as compared to the previous week. In fact, the National Retail Federation expects gift card sales to increase 6.6% this holiday season to 18.48 billion dollars, with consumers spending an average of $88 dollars on gift cards or 15.6% of their holiday shopping budget. Gift certificates have always been a popular gift choice for the hard to please recipient or even for the lazy shopper. For the gift giver, it allows a quick purchase at whatever store or online merchant they select, with a dollar amount that fits their budget. For the recipient, they can select what they want from a particular merchant and for the most part use the card at their convenience. But for some, giving a gift card is a cop-out, reasoning it is too impersonal and opting to hand pick a gift and selecting something special and unique for a loved one or friend. However, for some, the gift card is the ideal gift choice, with family or friends even suggesting the store or online merchant they prefer. For the merchants, it has extended the holiday shopping season because they cannot record the sale until the recipient uses the gift card to make a purchase. This holds down sales figures in November and December, but provides a boost in January when most cards are redeemed. An additional boost is provided by the fact that most of the shoppers who redeem their gift cards typically spend 15% to 50% more than the face value of the card when they select their holiday gift. There are some downsides to gift cards. Some retailers clear unused gift cards off the books by subtracting off of the face value of the card, an inactivity fee (usually $2.50 per month) after a certain amount of time. Some gift cards have an expiration date and others come with special conditions or restrictions. However, consumer outrage has prompted many states across the country to introduce legislation limiting or banning the fees. Additionally, there is no federal law on gift cards but, two Republican congressmen, Joe Barton of Texas and Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, have requested that the Federal Trade Commission investigate the way retailers conduct their gift card programs. Is giving a gift card too impersonal? Is it the best gift choice? That question is up for debate and is a personal preference. But with annual gift card sales projected to reach 90 billion dollars by 2007 (Ernst & Young 2005), the gift card is here to stay.

         
    Gift card rush will boost holiday sales figures

     

    While online and retail holiday shopping sales have met or exceeded expectations for most retailers in 2005, there is another "rush" for all retailers to prepare for: gift card redemption. According to Hitwise, an online intelligence service, the market share of U. S. Internet searches containing the words "gift card" was up 32% for the week ending December 10, 2005 as compared to the previous week. In fact, the National Retail Federation expects gift card sales to increase 6.6% this holiday season to 18.48 billion dollars, with consumers spending an average of $88 dollars on gift cards or 15.6% of their holiday shopping budget. Gift certificates have always been a popular gift choice for the hard to please recipient or even for the lazy shopper. For the gift giver, it allows a quick purchase at whatever store or online merchant they select, with a dollar amount that fits their budget. For the recipient, they can select what they want from a particular merchant and for the most part use the card at their convenience. But for some, giving a gift card is a cop-out, reasoning it is too impersonal and opting to hand pick a gift and selecting something special and unique for a loved one or friend. However, for some, the gift card is the ideal gift choice, with family or friends even suggesting the store or online merchant they prefer. For the merchants, it has extended the holiday shopping season because they cannot record the sale until the recipient uses the gift card to make a purchase. This holds down sales figures in November and December, but provides a boost in January when most cards are redeemed. An additional boost is provided by the fact that most of the shoppers who redeem their gift cards typically spend 15% to 50% more than the face value of the card when they select their holiday gift. There are some downsides to gift cards. Some retailers clear unused gift cards off the books by subtracting off of the face value of the card, an inactivity fee (usually $2.50 per month) after a certain amount of time. Some gift cards have an expiration date and others come with special conditions or restrictions. However, consumer outrage has prompted many states across the country to introduce legislation limiting or banning the fees. Additionally, there is no federal law on gift cards but, two Republican congressmen, Joe Barton of Texas and Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, have requested that the Federal Trade Commission investigate the way retailers conduct their gift card programs. Is giving a gift card too impersonal? Is it the best gift choice? That question is up for debate and is a personal preference. But with annual gift card sales projected to reach 90 billion dollars by 2007 (Ernst & Young 2005), the gift card is here to stay.

         
    Gift certificates online a convenient option for internet shoppers

     

    : With every passing year, it gets harder and harder to decide what to buy family and friends for their birthdays, special events, and seasonal holidays. Having the option to purchase gift certificates online is one that is certainly convenient and time saving! Gift certificates have increased in popularity since getting access to many of the top online retail stores via the Internet is fast, easy, and simple! When many of you are starting to choose the online shopping route to save time and money, certificates make it even more effortless to please your family, friends, and many of your co-workers and business clients. So Why Are Gift Certificates Becoming Just As Popular As Giving Traditional Gifts? We live in a society that is more demanding when it comes to gift giving, and the recipients are becoming harder to shop for when it comes to clothing, toys, electronics, and even the people that enjoy unique collectables! With merchandise being advertised daily through the media streams, kids and adults alike are changing their styles and personal choices constantly. So you may know one day what games or gourmet food they like, then one day they change their tastes, and before you know it, what you thought was their favorite item is not anymore. This is why a gift certificate, also available as gift cards or e-cards, is a great option! For example, you may know that your child or adult friend loves to receive video games or DVD movies, however you may not know exactly what they’re interested in playing or watching. With a personalized certificate for movies and DVDs, you will win every time with your gift recipients having choice, and they can select exactly what they want in the convenience of their own home and enjoy the gift when it arrives at their door. There Are Many Online Gift Stores That Satisfy The Hardest People To Buy For! I’m sure there are many recipients on your gift list that are impossible to shop for, and when it comes to special holidays such as Christmas, or occasions such as an Anniversary or Wedding, the last thing you want to do is get a gift that your recipients will not be happy with! Some of you may not care what they think, but if you do, the last thing you want is for them to be talking to other family members or guests about the gift they hated from you. To eliminate this from ever happening, you can send a beautiful bouquet of flowers, or a gift basket of gourmet fruit and wine, and add a gift card or certificate to one of their favorite stores online, and they will be raving about your generosity and thoughtfulness! Also, if you have family and friends that love to travel, but you don’t know where they plan on going next, you can even give the gift of travel with convenient travel certificates! This way, if you have a wedding couple on your list that happen to be arranging their honeymoon, or someone close to you that is celebrating a special occasion and they would like to venture off somewhere, but they’re not sure where, giving them a holiday of choice with a travel certificate is a surprise that they will never forget! E - Certificates and personalized e-gift cards are a great way to reach the people on your gift list when you just can’t make your recipient’s special day, whether you live out of town, or that business trip popped up that will make it impossible for you to attend. In your own way you can offer your loved ones and special friends the gift of convenience and choice this year with gift certificates.

         
     
         
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