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Elf's Shelf: Giving Gift Cards

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They've been called the lazy man's gift. But for some Christmas shoppers, gift cards just make sense. "You don't have to return things, you don't have to wait in line, and also the after Christmas sales are a lot better so you can get more for that same gift card," said Robert Costen, who just bought a gift card for a co-worker. Rather than guess what she might like, he says he'd rather let her decide. "I know that she'll use this gift card and then come in and select something that she's really happy with," Costen said. He's not alone. Between 2005 and 2006, gift card sales increased by more than six billion dollars. This year major retailers like Starbucks are getting more creative. They've started selling custom gift cards--same value but with personalized designs. "Normally if I get just a gift card from someone I'm kind of disappointed," said Megan Henry, who works in a retail shop in Mayfaire Town Center. Henry says she understands that gift cards are usually more practical. But when it comes to giving, it's the thought that goes into the gift that counts. "Even if it's not something you wanted or you really like at least you know the person who bought it from you took the time to really think about you and what they thought you'd like," Henry said. For shoppers like Katie Fischetti on the other hand, gift cards are better to receive than to give. "I feel kinda like it's impersonal," Fischetti said. "Like I wasn't trying hard enough to get them something." "But I actually do like getting them." That is, only if they're for certain stores. "I have a lot of gift cards in my wallet that I've never used before," she said. In that case, they're like every other unwanted gift - quickly and easily forgotten. The National Retail Federation predicts that Americans will spend more than $26 billion on gift cards this holiday season.

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