Gift Ideas

Gift Giving

Gift Giving: Ideas for Unusual Gifts, Cards, Shopping and More

You've got a lot of gifts to give: birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, holidays and sometimes "just because." We've found the Web sites to help you with gift giving ideas, places to shop, greeting cards and tips on the best way to wrap your presents. And you don't even have to send us a thank-you note.

Gift Ideas

Many Web sites have sections that suggest gift ideas based on holiday, occasion or age and gender of the recipient. Browse our recommended sites to find unique gift ideas that will most certainly be appreciated.

Insights for Gift Ideas

  • Before you begin hunting for gift ideas, poke around for online wish lists that your recipients might have created. Such wish lists are increasingly popular and are available on many Web sites. Try typing the person's name and the words "wish list" into a search engine. Also read the "Online Wish Lists" section of this guide for ideas on sites to check out.
  • Specific return policies (for example, a 30- or 60-day window in which the product can be returned or exchanged) vary from one Web site to the next, so make sure to read the fine print before you buy. Similarly, each store has its own policies for gift cards; many diminish in value the longer they go unused.

Top Sites for Gift Ideas

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Calendar Reminders

An online calendar reminder is the perfect way to track important dates. In addition to helpful text articles and visual suggestions, the Web can provide tools to remind you of important events with calendar reminders for birthdays and anniversaries. You’ll also find sites that can help you keep track of the gifts you've already given and to whom.

Insights for Calendar Reminders

  • Sometimes you can find gift-related tools in unexpected places. For example, the genealogical Web site Geni will send you calendar reminders for the birthdays of the members that you list in your online family tree.
  • If you're already attached to your cell phone or BlackBerry, use Internet-based reminder tools to help you even when you're not at your computer. After entering the names and birthdates of all your contacts, many Web sites (including, recommended below) will send calendar reminders of special occasions to your electronic devices.
  • A caveat: Some free reminder sites are sponsored by merchants. As a result, you may find yourself swimming in spam thinly disguised as reminders and suggestions. If you don't want these e-mails, make sure to opt out by checking the appropriate boxes when you sign up.

Top Sites for Calendar Reminders

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Online Wish Lists

Online wish lists are similar to traditional wedding and baby shower registries, although the lists now cover a wider range of occasions. Online wish lists may take more planning and the gifts won't be a complete surprise, but you and your recipients are more likely to get what you want.

Insights for Online Wish Lists

  • The sites we've included here are focused specifically on wish lists, but many online retailers have their own wish list features that let you tag items the store carries. If you know some of your loved one's favorite stores, visit the accompanying Web sites and try searching for the person's name within those stores' wish list directories.

Top Sites for Online Wish Lists

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If you're short on cash and would rather send an e-card instead of a gift (or short on time because you forgot to mail out that birthday card), many Web sites now offer free e-cards as well as paid electronic greeting card services.

Insights for E-Cards

  • Although there are many Web sites that provide e-cards free of charge, some sites charge a small membership fee. If you plan on sending a lot of e-cards and are looking for a larger variety, one of these premium memberships might be worth the price.
  • In recent years, bogus e-card links have been sent out as spam mail. If you click on a malicious link, a virus might be downloaded to your computer. Open e-cards only from trusted sources. To combat phony e-card spam e-mails, many Web sites now offer an e-card pick-up that allows you to retrieve a card using a password rather than directly clicking on an e-mailed link.

Top Sites for E-Cards

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Charitable Gifts

In recent years, many unique gift-giving options have emerged as a result of the Internet, including charitable gift options. For the socially or environmentally conscious person in your life, charitable donations can make wonderful gifts.

Insights for Charitable Gifts

  • The sites we've listed here were chosen because they let you earmark your donation for specific items. Most charitable Web sites, however, allow you to simply make a monetary donation on someone's behalf.
  • If you have a favorite charity, visit its Web site to see if the organization will send a card if you make a donation in honor or in name of someone. In most cases, you can use your credit card to make your donation online.
  • Check to see if a charitable organization has an online store. Many sell T-shirts and other logo items through their Web sites, making it easy to support a charity and buy a tangible gift to give.

Tops Sites for Charitable Gifts

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Gift Subscriptions

Whether you choose a magazine gift subscription, a gift of-the-month club or any other type of present that gets delivered monthly, your friend or relative will be reminded of your thoughtfulness all year round. Club and gift subscriptions can be a particularly good idea for the person who has everything—who doesn’t get excited when a new gift arrives in the mail each month?

Insights for Gift Subscriptions

  • Many specialty and gourmet shops offer their own gift-of-the month or gift basket options. If you have a favorite store in mind, visit its Web site to see what your options are.
  • Most monthly subscriptions (especially food, wine and coffee clubs) can be purchased in time spans ranging from 3 to 12 months.

Top Sites for Gift Subscriptions

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Gift Basket Ideas

What could be better than receiving a dozen yummy things at once? Gift baskets allow you to combine your recipient's favorite fruits, wines, cheeses, chocolates and more in one container. We've got a number of resources for gift basket ideas that are sure to make a lasting impression.

Insights for Gift Basket Ideas

  • Many gourmet food and specialty shops offer combinations of their products in gift baskets. Visit your favorite online store to see if it has this option.
  • A less expensive, more personal option is to order items from a variety of Web sites, have the products shipped to you and then assemble the gift basket yourself. Places like Pottery Barn and Longaberger have a wide selection of baskets to choose from.

Top Sites for Gift Basket Ideas

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Gift Wrapping Ideas

A well-boxed and wrapped gift can make a beautiful impression. In this section, you'll find unique gift wrapping ideas from online retailers that sell wrapping paper, bows, ribbon and tape. There are also many craft Web sites that suggest creative (and nontraditional) ways of presenting your gift.

Insights for Gift Wrapping Ideas

  • Most online stores offer professional gift-wrapping for a fee (usually a few dollars). If you're choosy about the wrapping, though, be wary of these services. Oftentimes it's just a plain box wrapped with ribbon that carries the store logo.
  • If your gift is oversized or oddly shaped, consider placing it in a box that's easier to wrap, or use a gift bag instead of wrapping paper. Many party supply Web sites carry a wide array of these items.

Top Sites for Gift Wrapping Ideas

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