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12 creative ways to wrap gift cards

By LaRita Heet

You don't need to be Martha Stewart to come up with decorative ideas for dressing up holiday gift cards. With a little ingenuity and a few extra bucks, you can turn that 3-1/8-by-2-1/8-inch piece of plastic into a thoughtful and guaranteed-to-bring-a-smile present.

According to an October 2012 survey by the National Retail Federation, six in 10 Americans would like gift cards as a present this year -- more than any other classification of gift.  That especially applies to gift card presentations like the one Holly Kile, of Greenwood, Ind., created for her mother last year.

Have a Chanukah ChoxCard

Kile, 39, an online business development consultant and owner of HJK Digital Solutions, and the "Headmaster" of Pixie Dust University, wanted the perfect gift for her mom -- something useful, yet personal. Beginning with a poster board, Kile created a large one-month calendar; for each week of that month, she added "pockets" to various days. "My mother typically goes to Starbucks with one of her neighbors on Thursday mornings, so I included a Starbucks card on a Thursday pocket. She meets her best friend every Tuesday for lunch, so in a Tuesday pocket I gave her a card to one of their favorite lunch spots," says Kile.

Kile added a gift card to the local grocery store on a Friday, her mom's usual shopping day; a gas gift card into a Monday pocket, so her mom could fill her car for the upcoming week; and other random cards here and there. "For one of her Saturdays, she even got a salon card to cover her next pedicure," says Kile.  

Mom's reaction? "She loved it," says Kile. "It showed her that not only did I pay attention to what she was doing, but that I also wanted to be a part of that with her in a small way."

Sure, not all of us are as creative as Holly Kile, but a little creativity makes a big difference when it comes to gift card wrapping 

12 hottest gift card wrapping ideas for 2012

Have a Chanukah ChoxCard

Photo: Praim Group

1. Feed their inner chocaholic. Want the perfect gift for your BFF? Take a ChoxCard, add a gift card from the best spa in town, and voila, you have made her day. The ChoxCard makes the perfect all-in-one gift: part gift cardholder, part greeting card and all chocolate yumminess. ChoxCards come in a variety of funny, sassy, serious and sweet designs on self-sealing boxes. Each box contains a bar of milk or dark chocolate, depending on the design, and fits into a No. 10 envelope. ($5 each, plus shipping)

Dog Lovers or Cat Lovers

Photo: What on Earth

2. Please the pet people. While cats and dogs often coexist in harmony, the same cannot be said of their fiercely loyal owners. Slip a gift card for PetSmart or Petco into a gift for the pet parent -- such as these festive red-and-white striped "Dog Lover" or "Cat Lover" socks -- and you've hit the perfect note. (Of course, if you'd like to liven up this year's family Christmas, give the "dog" socks to rabid canine enthusiast Cousin Carrie, and the "cat" ones to her twin sister, Crazy Cat Lady Clara. We give them five minutes before the fur starts flying!) ($12.95 each, plus shipping)

Camo bear in camo socks

Photo: Build-A-Bear

3. Send a messenger. When Nat Gertler, the 47-year-old founder and publisher of About Comics, and ex-boyfriend of the year, bought his ex-girlfriend and her new husband a gift card to a camping store, he chose a special friend to deliver it. This friend -- a teddy bear Nat created  at Build-a-Bear -- is dressed in full camping gear, all the way down to the tiny backpack holding the gift card. (Build-a-Bear animals, outfits and accessories vary.)

Love Your People Booklet

Photo: Give More Media

4. Give more. "Wrap the gift card in a small booklet that lets them know you care about them as a person," says Jim Gould, co-founder of Give More Media, the creator of a variety of motivational and inspirational booklets, including Cross The Line and Love Your People. The booklets make the perfect gift cardholders for your employees, team members and clients. ($4.95 each or $3.95 each when ordering two or more)

Race Car Gift Set

Photo: Frecklebox

5. It's a bank, it's a treasure box, it's a ... gift cardholder? Each fun, personalized Frecklebox bank is a colorful tin container that makes a perfect gift card disguise. Junior will be penny-pinching faster than you can say, "Ka-ching!" ($16.99 each, plus shipping)

Mini Briefcase Business Card Case

Photo: ThinkGeek

6. Go Bond. James Bond. Got a 007-wannabe in your life? Then cruise on over to ThinkGeek.com and snatch up one of these wicked-cool mini aluminum briefcases. They're perfect for carrying gift cards and block RFID-scanning technology, just in case an evil villain tries to zap your credit cards. ($11.99, plus shipping)

Dr. Who Cookie Jar

Photo: ThinkGeek

7. Geek out. If you have a geek on your gift card list, you're in luck. What cookie-loving Dr. Who-watcher could resist the Dr. Who TARDIS Talking Cookie Jar ($19.99, plus shipping), or the comics store gift card you hide inside it? Want to win the heart of a Firefly devotee? Tuck a gift card into this classic Firefly "Curse Your Sudden But Inevitable Betrayal" T-shirt. ($19.99, plus shipping)

Rockler Tool Box Gift Card Holder

Photo: ThinkGeek

8. The way to a man's heart is through his ... gift cardholder? A manly gift card deserves an equally manly gift cardholder. Enter the Rockler Tool Box Gift Card Holder, the metal Mini-Me of an authentic wooden toolbox -- right down to its latches and carrying handle. Once the gift card is removed, he has the perfect business cardholder for his desk ($3.99). If your hubby is a techie, hide a gift card to Apple or your local gadget haven inside this year's hottest (and warmest!) gloves: "touchscreen" or "texting" gloves, which keep his fingers warm while he texts on his iPhone or other touchscreen device. The bonus? His boss will never know he's texting from the slopes on Whistler Mountain. Find Isotoner Men's Smartouch Fleece Lined Gloves at Amazon for only $17.99 (plus shipping) a pair.

Antler Scrambler Maze Gift Card

Photo: Target

9. WOW them. Move over,  you unassuming traditional gift cards -- there's a new kid in town, and all we can say is WOW! Target's WOW! interactive gift cards, created from Target's patented technology, offer extra features, including lights, sound and motion.  The four designs include the musical Joy Snowman, light-up sweater-adorned Christmas Sweater Bear and reindeer-shaped Antler Scrambler Maze (including a magnetic stylus to navigate the antler maze). The almost-sentient Draw 'n Go gift card comes with a marker and special Bullseye dog car; using the provided marker, the recipient draws on a piece of paper and the car follows what was drawn.  

Gift card for...

10. Make a promise. Give a gift card and make it a date. Wouldn't your grandma love a day of manis and pedis with her favorite granddaughter (that's you, by the way)? Slip the spa gift card into pretty basket of lotions with a note inviting her for a "girl's day" the following week.

Gift cards

11. Create an adventure. If you don't know what to get your 10-year-old nephew, get an assortment of gift cards and make a day of adventure out of it. Buy a variety of $10 gift cards -- for the local miniature golf course, his favorite pizza place, the bowling alley, Taco Bell, the movie theater and Cold Stone -- and toss them into a hat. Have him pull one out at a time -- no peeking! -- to determine the next step of your adventure. (Just hope that he doesn't pick one food gift card after another, or you'll be too stuffed to play mini golf.)

Go Away

Photo: The Literary Gift Company

12. Book lover's bonanza. For the book lover, reader or writer in your life, you cannot go wrong with a gift card to The Literary Gift Company, or as I like to call it, Mecca. Choose from thousands of books, notebooks, journals, diaries, bags and more to find the perfect holder for your gift card. My top picks are the "Go away I'm reading" and "Go away I'm writing" mugs ($15.79 each, plus shipping) (kids, are you reading this?). For the literary gentleman in your life, tuck a gift card inside a 100 percent silk, hand-painted Vintage Typewriter tie ($53.96, plus shipping) or a Shakespearean manuscript tie ($39.68, plus shipping).

See related: CHART: Compare fees, terms on top 63 gift cards, Gifting, budgeting drive gift card boom

Updated: December 21, 2012


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