Love giving gift cards but find them too impersonal? Then perhaps you'll find customized gift cards more worthy.
For the fifth-year running, gift cards were the most-requested present of the holiday season, comprising 18 percent of total holiday spending this year. In fact, the National Retail Federation said 80 percent of shoppers planned on buying gift cards, for a grand figure of $27.8 billion in just a few short months.
Finally cottoning on to this trend, e-retailers moved links for gift cards front and center on their homepages. Every merchant newsletter of the season trumpeted what great presents they made.
Is it any wonder, then, that some merchants began offering personalized gift cards. These cute little pieces of plastic can carry your own photo, logo or wording. It's as easy as downloading a photo from your desktop and clicking through to checkout.
Here are a few stores that allow you to create a more memorable gift card.
"¢ Amazon.com began offering this service awhile ago, setting a trend that's steadily spreading. There's no extra charge for this service.
"¢ DSW also allows for photo uploading, but they charge $4.50 for the privilege.
"¢ Barnes & Noble also charges $4.50 and your photo will be nudged to the side by the store's logo. The bookstore throws a personalized gift card into the bargain, although customizing is limited to the interior of the card.
"¢ Toys R Us and Babies R Us allow you to use your own photo, write a personal message and include your own greeting on a card. Total charge, as with the aforementioned, is $4.50 above the face value of the card.
Customized gift cards also are a great marketing method for companies who want to give clients and employees something a bit extra. Big Promotions, SpectrumAdvertising.com and PromoteSource.biz all allow you to purchase gift cards that feature your company logo, staff photo, or whatever tickles your corporate fancy. Naturally, there's a minimum-order requirement and a printing fee.