THE BLOG
12/22/2014 05:21 pm ET Updated Feb 21, 2015

5 Great Alternatives to Gift Cards This Christmas

With Christmas Day just around the corner, many people are finishing up their holiday shopping by purchasing gift cards for their friends and family members. While gift cards can be an excellent option when it comes to last minute Christmas gifts, they are not always the best choice. Not only are gift cards a much less personal gift that often conveys the message that the purchaser either ran out of time to shop, or they weren't informed enough to offer a better gift, but you are at a risk of throwing away your hard earned cash. Recent studies have shown that in the last six years, approximately $44 billion in gift card value was left unspent. In addition, an estimated $750 million will be gifted and not redeemed this holiday season alone. Don't worry though. Much better options are still available for your last minute Christmas shopping this year.

• Consider purchasing an "Of the Month Club" membership this Christmas. There is a wide variety of monthly clubs to choose from, so you can select one that not only fits your loved one's personality, but your budget as well. You can choose to have the monthly selection delivered to your recipient's home or office each and every month for as long as you decide, and each gift comes complete with a personalized gift card as well. Choose from a variety of fruits, gourmet treats, wines, beer, or even dinner out.

• An Experience Gift Certificate is an excellent choice for that adventurous (and even not so adventurous) person on your list this holiday season. Starting at around $50.00, you can purchase things like wine tours, scenic cruises, a day at the spa, or for the more daring individuals, select race car driver or fighter plane pilot for a day. If you're not sure which adventure to select, order an open gift certificate and let your recipient choose!

• Feature your loved one on the cover of his or her own fake magazine this Christmas. Simply select the cover template of your choice, upload a photo of the recipient, customize the headlines, and voila! If you're on a real time crunch, you can even download the file and print your gift from your own home computer.

• If you have a nature lover on your holiday gift list, consider the Christmas Deluxe Holiday Gift Package from TreeGivers this year. Your recipient will get a young tree that is planted on public property on his or her behalf, a framed certificate of planting, a personalized gift card and a handcrafted, leaf shaped Christmas tree ornament to remind them of your gift for generations to come.

• Gift baskets can be ideal when it comes to last minute Christmas gifts. Shop online and choose from thousands of high quality variations to match the personality of your recipient. Since gift baskets can be delivered right to your loved one's home or office, you can often order them up to a day or two before Christmas.

For more great ideas for last minute Christmas gifts and exciting alternatives to purchasing gift cards, visit ChristmasGifts.com.