Chances are you'll buy at least one gift card for somebody this holiday season. According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, 81 percent of holiday shoppers will purchase one. It's estimated that consumers will spend $28.8 billion on gift cards. Here are some best gift-card practices:
Look for incentives from retailers, especially restaurants. Right now, Outback and Bonefish Grill will give you a $20 gift card when you purchase $100 in gift cards. Purchase a $25 gift card at Olive Garden and receive an additional $5 gift card. BI-LO offers Fuel Perk rewards with its gift cards. (See the BI-LO website.)
Keep an eye on the local daily deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social and HalfoffDepot. If you are buying a gift for someone outside your local area, change the city before you search for deals.
For those who need their java fix, buy a mug and include it with a coffee shop gift card and include some after-coffee mints.
For those who love to DIY, tape a home improvement store gift card to a roll of duct tape.
Put a movie gift card inside a large box of candy.
For those who may need a little pampering, attach a gift card for a mani-pedi on a pair of flip flops.
Don't be a gift card hoarder.
A November Consumer Reports survey found that a quarter of adults still hadn't used at least one gift card they'd received from the previous holiday season.
Some gift cards lose their value, and not using them takes away from the sentiment intended by the gift giver.