Archive for Restaurant Gift Cards

The Gift Card You Won’t Want to Use

Tim McGraw Gift Card to Outback SteakhouseI saw this Tim McGraw gift card at Target and want to applaud InComm for their creativity in gift card designs.

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We often talk about ways to make gift cards more personal because simply handing over a piece of plastic as a gift can make you feel sheepish. Unless there is something to look at (or “ooh and ahh” over), the gift exchange can feel awkward.

But in this case, the plastic is worth reviewing–and passing around the party.

Oh yeah, the gift card is for Outback Steakhouse. (If that matters.)

What Goes with Tim?

If you insist on dressing up this hunky gift card, below are a few suggestions:

  • Deliver the gift card with a mix CD of your favorite Tim McGraw songs
  • Deliver it with other things that are HOT such as Hot Tamales candy, Red Hots, Flaming Hot Cheetos, or Hot Sauce
  • Complete the duo by pairing a Tim McGraw gift card with a Faith Hill CD or an inspirational quote, wall vinyl, or book on Faith.


Do Nothing. Like I said. This is one time when the plastic itself feels more like a present than just a placeholder.


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Baby Shower Gift — it’s not what you think.

My sister sent me a link to this Date Night in a Bag gift idea and I love it. But not for the reason you might think.

Date Night to Me

My husband and I love going to the movies. But we found a bowl of popcorn and shows on the DVR to be much more practical after the brood started growing.

Think Baby

I love this idea for a baby shower because heaven knows when that newborn arrives, mom and dad won’t have a second to themselves for about 18 years. They will have to create date night in a bag, on the couch, with a fox, in a box, and whatever else ways they can figure.

I can honestly say that my husband and I probably wouldn’t swap this bag back and forth. But I do think it would make a fabulous gift. And the gals at The Dating Divas include several other date night suggestions. Each, would also make terrific baby shower or wedding day gifts. Thanks for sharing, ladies!

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Got a Little Dough with that Gift Card?

Quite possibly the cutest version of the Cookie Dough jar I’ve ever seen. It’s a seriously great gift on it’s own. But you know me…gotta think gift card.

How to Add a Gift Card

Let’s play on that “dough” theme. Add a gift card and write the words, “Thought you could use a little extra dough.”

As is, the idea works for any gift card and for any occasion. But here are a few ocassions when money is particularly useful:

  • Graduation. Visa or Mastercard gift card is perfect for grad.
  • Wedding. Gift card to Bed, Bath & Beyond sounds about right.
  • New Baby. Gift card to Target or Babies R Us.
  • Moving. Gift card to Home Depot or other home-inspired store.
  • Holidays. A gift card around the holidays would be welcome in my home!

You can write, “Thought you could use a little extra dough on your wedding day” or more generic, “Everyone can use a little extra dough this time of year.” Either way, what a great message and fun way to deliver a little extra dough in a fun, personal, thoughtful way. Happy Gift Carding!

Source: via Shauna on Pinterest


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Discount Gift Cards at Costco

Jamba Juice gift cards at CostcoBesides websites like Plastic Jungle,, and that sell used gift cards for less, there are currently very few opportunities to buy discounted gift cards on a regular basis. During the holidays, you might find the odd promotion. But typically new gift cards can only be purchased at face value.

Gift Cards on Sale at Costco

I’m a fan of the big box warehouse store. Costco never disappoints (except when they switched from Diet Coke to Pepsi at the food court). So I am thrilled to see an increasing number of discounted gift cards available at one of the places I already love to shop.

The Good

Although the selection is limited, the prices are great. I often see $100 restaurant gift cards for around $79.99 or package gift cards like 5 x $10 Jamba Juice gift cards for only $39.99. That’s a 20% savings. Costco also offers discount gift cards for local stores and attractions.

The Needs Work

Costco gift cards are paper based. Unlike the plastic cards on a rack that need to be activated, Costco gift cards already contain value and they look more like coupons. Since gift cards lack presentation anyway, the Costco cards are especially challenging. So my advice in this area, of course, is to deliver the gift card with something else from Costco. (We’re not trying to pretend you didn’t buy it there.)

  • Deliver a discount spa or nail salon gift card with a book or magazine from the great selection in that area.
  • Deliver movie tickets with a tub of red vines.
  • Deliver a water park gift card with one of the great beach towels Costco sells during the summer or a family pack of sunscreen.
  • Deliver a restaurant gift card with one of Costco’s specialty desserts.
  • The options are endless.

    Just because….

    Just because the gift card itself is a little u-g-l-y, doesn’t mean you can’t make it attractive by adding something extra. The recipient will likely figure out you got the gift at Costco for a discount, but because the gift card is part of a meaningful gift, he or she won’t care. I know I wouldn’t.


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Grandma is the Best Gift Card Holder of All

I love to see a gift card delivered in a fun, engaging, clever way. It doesn’t have to be crafty–just show a little thought and effort went into the gift. Well, I should have known my mom would come up with the best idea of them all.

Happy Birthday

Grandma is the Gift Card HolderOn my husband’s birthday, Grandma showed up on our doorstep AS the GIFT CARD HOLDER. She tied a Fandango and a Coldstone gift card around her neck with a grosgrain ribbon and said, “These gift cards come with babysitting.”

Time is the Ultimate Gift

I am lucky to live so close to my mom. She comes over every Friday night after she gets off work to teach my kids how to play the piano. After the lessons, she changes into her “Grandma clothes” and watches the kids while Paul and I go on a date. She says she’s not babysitting, she’s “grandparenting.” I don’t care what she calls it. I look forward to the night out with my husband all week. The gift cards were truly icing on a generous cake.

You Be the Gift Card Holder

This is such a simple idea, but how often would your service actually be more meaningful than the gift card or gift itself? Think of those occassions when showing up might be the greatest gift of all. Deliver the gift card with a list of possible dates you’re available or a coupon for your time. Here are some ideas I thought of:

  • Moving. Gift card to home depot with your offer to help pack, unpack, clean, or paint.
  • New Baby. GIft card to a sandwich shop plus your babysitting (or just baby holding) while new mom gets to eat.
  • Big Brother or Sister. Deliver gift card to ice cream shop and offer to take older siblings out for a treat while mom is with the little one.
  • Gardening. Gift card to garden store and offer to help pull weeds.
  • Teacher Thank You. Gift card to Bookstore and offer to volunteer time helping out in the classroom.

Is the Gift Card Necessary?

Of course not. The gift of time is always precious. But if you’re struggling to make a gift card more personal, consider putting your person into the gift like my mom did. So simple. So loving.


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My Heart Burns for You Valentine!

My HeartBurns for you Valentine Gift CardThis is a great way to give a restaurant gift card on Valentine’s Day or to a signifitant other on a special day.

Download the “My heart burns for you” digital download to get started.

Restaurant Gift Card

Deliver a restaurant gift card with something that gives you heartburn (such as spicy foods) or something that helps you get rid of it (antacid or Pepto-Bismol). In the example shown, I tied a Chipotle Restaurant gift card to a jar of Chipotle salsa. (A homemade jar of salsa would be even better!)

Candlelight fire instead

My heart burns for you Valentine is a great gift card holderAnother way to use this tag is to deliver a gift card with a candle, set of matches, or a candle accessory such as a candle sleeve. Any gift card will do since the candle theme will match up nicely with the burning heart idea, but a gift card to the spa would be a fitting touch.

Or a Campfire

Tie a gift card to Bass Pro Shops, REI, or the camping store to a fire starter, stack of firewood, or a handy lighter. Add the “heartburn” tag and you’ll all set.

Check here for other Valentine’s Day gift card ideas.

Sell your gift cards for cash $$$!

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Love the Jamba Juice Gift Card Offer

Jamba Juice is doing it right this holiday season. At participating locations, you can buy a $25 gift card and get a free smoothie. If you’re a Jamba Juice regular, buy the gift card for yourself and start slurping! If you’re going to give a Jamba Juice gift card, then this next offer is even better.

Gift with Purchase

As Kevin B at the San Ramon Jamba Juice explains, for $15, you get a 22 oz. Tumbler and a $5 Jamba Juice gift card. I love ths promotion because it follows my 5 Steps to Better Gift Card Giving. The gift card can be used at a variety of locations, is in a usable amount ($5 is plenty for Jamba Juice), and the recipient gets to “open something.” This would make a great gift for teachers, office staff, and others you want to give a small token to this holiday season.

Add a Personal Scoop

Make it even more personal by putting a list of your favorite smoothies or the “secret Jamba Juice menu” inside the tumbler. Have fun with it.

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Back to School Gift Cards

Summer Fun

This is What Summer is All About

Summer vacation is winding down and I can honestly say that we’ve lived it to the fullest. Rarely more than an hour away from home, we stay-cationed all over the Bay Area. We went to the beach, played summer league baseball, watched professional baseball, swam every water park in the area, ate ice cream, made ice cream, rode our bikes, connected with old friends, and made several new friends. It’s been a good summer.

I’ve Let Myself Go

But in the 10 weeks we’ve enjoyed as a family, I have completely let myself go. I haven’t done my hair in weeks. Ran out of a few essentials in the make-up bag and didn’t bother to replace them. My toenails are bare and my eyebrows a bit bushy. My lack of self care comes down to two things: time and money. (Doesn’t it always?)

Time and Money

I spent the early part of the summer training my boys to quietly go downstairs in the morning, bypassing the usual tap on my forehead to see if I’m awake. Their quiet departure allowed me an extra half hour or so of sleep. The indulgence, however, meant the kids were either starving or clawing at each other by the time I got up. So I had to shave time off the beauty routine to make up for it. I also let them stay up later which meant less time to myself at night. Heck, what am I saying? Less time to myself all DAY too. Love those kids, but forget about scheduling hair, salon, doctor, or dentist appointments while they’re home. And besides, money I might have spent on myself is going to admissions for various activities anyway.

Back to School

But it’s back to school time and that means every mom I know with school age kids is about to get a makeover. And I will be setting the pace. I need a new do, a splash of color on the toes, gonna look into that Yoga class I’ve talked about for months, and probably need to get my teeth cleaned as well.

So while I see retailers advertising “back to school” specials that revolve around kids, I think they’d do well to remember us moms are in need of a little pampering ourselves. And we could use some gift cards to offset the expense because we just spent all our money on summer activities and school registration. I suggest the following:

  • Hair salon gift card for a cut and color
  • Nail salon gift card for a manicure and pedicure
  • Massage or Spa gift card to work out the summer kinks
  • Gym or Yoga gift card to find her center again
  • Organization store gift card to help her figure out the new fall schedule
  • Lunch gift card to reconnect with girlfriends

It doesn’t have to be her birthday. If you know a mom with school age kids who is about to send the kiddies back to the teachers, get her a “Summer Survival” gift card to celebrate her return to freedom!

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Bright Future for Gift Cards as Incentives

Companies are increasingly using gift cards as employee and customer incentives…and I like it! At a recent training seminar my husband attended, instructors handed out $10 P.F. Chang’s gift cards to participants who answered questions correctly. With three little kids, Paul and I typically only go to restaurants with booth seating (for containment) and ketchup on the table (as an indicator of menu selection). But we broke the rules when Dad came home from his trip with enough gift cards to take us all out for dinner. We had a great time and Ally declared P.F. Chang’s her new favorite restaurant. My kids are growing up.

The gift cards are obviously gone, but the positive memory is lasting. Conversely, my girlfriend just received a pair of high-end sunglasses for a job well done at the office (i.e. “the future is so bright, you have to wear shades”). The sunglasses are nice, but they’re not her style. And she doesn’t want to wear the exact same sunglasses everyone else on the sales team is now wearing anyway.

Her company should have taken a note from Stoner Bunting who did a similar promotion but used Sunglass Hut gift cards instead.

Though both companies had good intent, Renee’s (name changed) company spent a great deal of money on sunglasses that not everyone appreciated. Had they given out gift cards instead, recipients could have personalized their reward. And I imagine they could have had quite a fashion show as staff members revealed their choices. That seems like a double loss to me–wasted sunglasses and a missed morale booster.

I’ve added a new page to the Gift Card Girlfriend site to talk more about gift cards in the office. I appreciate Stoner Bunting for bringing this issue to my attention and would love to hear more about your experiences with gift cards from work.

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New Stress-Free Gift Card Ideas

Put yourself on the Nice list.

Put yourself on the Nice list.

Still trying to figure out what to get your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse for Christmas this year? Maybe you’re over thinking it. We only launched this web site a couple of weeks ago and already readers are telling us we’ve changed the course of their holiday shopping. Instead of stressing at the mall, they’re multi-tasking at the grocery store. Instead of fretting over sizes, likes, and dislikes, they’re gift carding with confidence—anxious for the recipient to open their gift. (When was the last time you gave someone a gift card and couldn’t wait for them to open it?)

Get inspired from suggestions sent in by some of our readers:

  • Nice List.  With a note pad and a pen, attach a gift card to the department store. That’s what Carole did and then she wrote, “Make your OWN list.  Check it Twice.  Then with this gift card.  Get YOURSELF something nice.”
Restaurant gift card and Beano for the old farts!

Restaurant gift card and Beano for the old farts!

  • Seasons Greetings.  Attach a gift card to the cooking store, BBQ store, grocery store, or any old store to a bottle of seasoning or marinade. Write “Seasons Greetings” on the tag. Go one level deeper and select a seasoning appropriate for the gift card.  Chipotle seasoning with a Chipotle restaurant gift card, for example.
  • Yule log.   Attach a family entertainment gift card (movies, video, bowling, etc.) to a Duraflame log.  Write, “Hoping YULE have a Merry Christmas” or “Warmest Wishes this Holiday Season.”
  • Warm Wishes.  Warm greetings are also appropriate with a pair of gloves, a scarf, or some hand warmers.  Attach those to a gift card to a café or any place you can get a delicious mug of hot chocolate and be sure to add “Warmest Wishes” to the card.
  • Old Fart.  Brooke took gift carding to a new (lower) level with this restaurant gift card attached to a bottle of Beano.  She wrote, “Happy date night you old farts!”
  • Dreaming of.  Get a gift card to Dream Dinners or any place designed to help busy women (make and take dinners, spa, salon).  Tell her you’re “Dreaming of a White Christmas” and a day she doesn’t have to work so hard.
  • Rock my world.  Get a gift card for downloadable music and write a note that says, “You Rock my World.” Add it to something romantic like a box of chocolates, a candle, or a fun pair of pj’s.

Check out the For Her and For Him sections for more gift carding ideas you can pull together in time for Christmas.

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