Gift cards are great last-minute options for all you procrastinators, but if you want to show a little more effort than stopping by a drugstore to pick one off the rack, you'll need to put in some thought (such as checking store policies on gift cards to make sure you don't get a dud). You don't want your recipient to end up selling it on a gift card exchange site, right? So we’ve rounded up the best and most unusual gift cards of 2010 to make you a gift-card-giving pro!
5 Most Unusual Gift Cards
- Travel-Size Gift Card — For the frequent traveler or camper in your life, a gift certificate to Minimus.biz will make sure that the recipient has a stock of travel-size food, condiments, toiletries and more.
- Supply of Manly Items — ManPacks.com offers a gift card that will keep special men in your life in the best of undergarments. Monthly subscriptions start at $14 a month and will deliver underwear, undershirts and socks. Gift cards start at $50.
- For the Person with Everything but a Dogsled — Muddy Paw Dogsled Kennel in New Hampshire offers dogsled gift certificates that will grant your recipient a day, or a weekend, they won’t soon forget. If they fall in love with the idea, they can even adopt a retired sled dog.
- Design Your Own Shoes — Here's a hot gift for the woman in your life that you want to impress: a gift certificate to Milk & Honey, which lets your recipient be the designer. This isn't just picking a color and a heel size, there are options for toe style as well as add-ons, backs, straps, piping and trim, embellishments and more.
- For the NRA Life Member on Your List — Pick up a gift certificate to Bullet Designs, where you can buy practically anything made out of fired bullets. We're not kidding! There are clocks, ceiling fan pulls, coat racks, cuff links, earrings, pens, valve stem caps and more.
- iTunes Gift Card — This year the iPad is one of the hottest gifts, according to Nielsen, and so are the iPhone and iPod Touch — none of which are complete without a heap of apps and music. And if that's not your recipient's thing, he or she can also use it to buy or rent TV shows or movies.
- Amazon Gift Certificate — If you can't figure out what to get some people on your list, unleash on them the seemingly endless virtual aisles of Amazon, which will grant them the opportunity to buy electronics, clothes, books, movies, groceries, games... and, in reality, almost anything that's legal to sell in the U.S. Your recipients can immediately load the gift certificates into their accounts, so the gift won't get lost like regular cards. And they can even instantly send you a thank you note.
- Best Buy Gift Card — With locations all across America and a hefty presence on the web, Best Buy is a go-to store for electronics. That makes it a top gift card pick for 2010. If you paid attention to our Five Things You Need to Know Before Buying Gift Cards article, you'd also know that you can contribute to a gift card at Best Buy with a group of others, which ensures that your recipient doesn’t have 10 different gift cards to 10 different retailers.
- Visa Pre-Paid Gift Card — Normally we avoid these prepaid Visa gift cards because they have inactivity fees and can be difficult to use in their entirety, but if you are dead-set on a gift card and don't know what your recipient wants or needs most, this is the best option. Pick one up at your bank or credit union for the best deals.
- Gift Cards with Bonuses — Retailers love to sell gift cards, and these days that means you can score gift card bonuses that make your gift go further and give a little something extra. Keep in mind that the gift card bonus offers typically won't be active until January, but they are still well worth it.
Josh Smith is a freelance writer who writes frequently about technology and consumer electronics and is based in Ohio. Follow him on Twitter — @josh_smith. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.