Monday, December 5, 2016

The Christmas Alternative- Better than the Gift Card

A special thank you to Lynndee Theson for this excellent guest post.

My name is Sarah Gonzales and I fully endorse this message.

Top gift ideas for the hard-to-shop-for people in your life.

The holiday season is upon us.  Some say it’s the most wonderful time of the year.  For me it is the most stressful time of the year.  That isn’t to say I don’t love the holidays, I am just one of millions of people who go out shopping for gifts each year and walk out of a store with more gifts for myself than the people on my list.  I know what I want.  Not when I am asked, when I see it in the store.  It’s a vicious cycle, when asked what would you like for Christmas the answer is “I don’t know”.  As soon as I step into Target though, I see all kinds of things I want.  This year, when making wish lists for my family I noticed instead of actual gifts, wish lists were filled with gift cards.  So I thought, there has to be something I can buy my family that is more personal than a gift card or money.  I came to a middle ground.  They aren’t really wrap it up and put a box under the tree gifts but they aren’t gift cards either.
Memberships can make the best gifts.  Unlike some presents, a membership lasts an entire year.  This is my list of suggested memberships to give as a gift this year.

  • Zoo membership
    • Zoo memberships are great for families with kids.  My zoo membership not only gets two adults and all dependent age children admission into the zoo, I also get a discount at the gift shop and snack bars.  During special events members get special pricing as well.  Different Zoo’s may have more or less benefits so be sure to look into the zoo closest to you to find out what if offered.  Memberships are good for 1 year.  

  • AAA membership
    • You don’t have to be insured with AAA to have a AAA membership.  Membership benefits include roadside service, discounts at many hotels, restaurants, and car repair places, and a lot of AAA locations offer some DMV services.  There are three different levels of membership with the classic one costing $56 a year.  Classic membership comes with 5 miles of free towing, free gas delivery, and $60 car locksmith reimbursement.  This is a nice gift for anyone who drives.  Find out more about a AAA membership here.

  • Rei membership
    • For a one time fee of $20 an REI membership can be purchased.  This is the gift that really does keep giving.  Each year, members get a 10% back member divided on purchases made at REI throughout the year.  The divided is only good at REI but there are so many things to buy that it won’t be hard to pick something.  Other membership benefits include access to REI garage sale and member only specials.  Don’t know what REI is?  Check it out here.

  • Amazon Prime membership
    • I love amazon.  That is why I am a prime member.  A prime membership get you free two day shipping on many products as well as access to thousands of movies and TV shows through prime video.  At $99 at year that is less than $10 a month making it less than Netflix with many of the same programs and other added benefits.  Prime members can also borrow a book each month from the KIndle Owners Lending Library.  Interested in Prime?  Get more info here.

Wholesale Club memberships
Wholesale clubs are popular for small businesses and large families.  They allow customers to shop for everything from bulk food and beverages to furniture and electronics.  Memberships need to be renewed yearly so these can make great gifts year after year.

  • Costco membership
    • For $55 you can gift a gift a Costco membership good for a year.  It will allow the recipient to shop at Costco and get amazing deals on bulk items.  Costco has a pharmacy, optical department, tire shop, and a snack bar.  On top of all that, Costco has a very generous return policy.  Interested in a Costco membership for you or someone else?  Learn more here.

  • Sam’s Club membership
    • Sam’s Club is also a wholesale warehouse.  A basic membership is $45 and allows the member to shop in Sam’s Club and save lots of money by buying items in bulk.  Sam’s Club has an optical department, battery and tire department, and instant savings on products.  Find out more about Sam’s Club membership here.

These days there are subscriptions for everything.  Some subscriptions allow subscribers to pay monthly for a service or product while others can be paid for a set amount of time like 3 months, 6 months, or a year.  Subscriptions are a perfect gift for anyone.  You just have to find the right subscription.  Here are some of my favorites.

  • Netflix
    • Netflix is a subscription service that streams many TV show, movies, and original content.  Plans start at $7.99 per month.  This can be a great way to give someone something you know they will use.  Netflix makes it easy for current subscribers to apply a gift code to their account so they will not be charged until the gift code has been used.  Buy a netflix gift card at most local retailers.

  • Hulu
    • Hulu allows subscribers to watch current episodes of TV shows the same week it is airded on television.  Hulu also has exclusive and original shows as well as some movies.  Hulu plans start at $7.99 with commercials or for $11.99 subscribers can watch Hulu without commercials.  Hulu gift cards can be purchased at many local retailers including Target, Best Buy, and Walgreens.  Just add the gift code to an account and don’t pay again until all the gift code has been used.

  • Magazine
    • Magazine subscriptions are a nice option since there are so many to chose from.  From current events, fashion, puzzles, entertainment, news, sports, cars, kids, parenting, and home you are sure to find something for everyone.
  • Newspaper
    • By choosing local newspapers you can get up to date news daily or choose to only get the paper on weekends or just Sunday.  Most Sunday papers will have ads and coupons.  This is an ideal gift for any couponers you may know.

  • Box subscriptions
    • Give someone a box subscription and they will receive a box in the mail with whatever you pick.   From nail polish and makeup to toys and food,  the possibilities are endless as more and more companies are using box subscriptions to create interest in their products.

Seasonal Passes

  • Waterpark season pass
    • This can be such an awesome gift for the summer.  Waterparks have lots of waterslides, a tide pool, a kids water play area, and snack bars.  They are great places to go for a few hours a day during the summer when it is really hot and stay active.  Passes are sold per person so it get expensive for large families.  This is a nice gift for parents to buy for their own kids.  

  • Ski Resort season pass
    • This is a great gift for people who like to ski or snowboard.  This is also one of the most expensive gifts on my list.  I’m sure lots of people would love a ski resort season pass but it is not in everyone's budget.

National Park Pass
  • American the Beautiful Pass
Passes for National Parks make great gifts especially for people who are active.  The America the Beautiful pass is good for over 2,000 national parks and federal recreation areas throughout the United States including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Death Valley, and Yellowstone.  These passes can be purchased for $80 and cover entrance fees for a year.  To give you an idea of the value of the America the Beautiful pass, a seven day pass to get into Yosemite is $30.  For people that plan on going more than 3 times a year, this really pays off.  Plus is can be used for lots of other places.  Get more information at

Don’t stress this holiday season about gifts.  Pick one of the useful gifts from this list and make gift giving easy this year.  Do you have a favorite gift to give or get?  Don’t hold out, share your thoughts.

Lynndee Theson

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