The Gift Card Gift Guide

Two days till Christmas: do you think the elves have packed up their tools and started drinking, like the rest of us? If you haven’t squared away your presents by now, you’re probably screwed. Or… maybe not. Even if you wait until tomorrow—even if you roll out of bed Christmas morning and realize you didn’t know you had to forgot to get a gift for your brother’s girlfriend who is inexplicably at your house in your pajamas—you still have time to buy a gift. A gift card. Gift cards have a rep for being impersonal, and that’s true, if you pull one off the rack in the Target checkout line. But they do give the gift of choice, and are a lot more intentional than a wad of cash. So hey, don’t stress out, just say you have to use the bathroom and fill out one of these digital forms while you’re in there painting your toenails. Below, beauty gift cards you can still get in the 11th hour:

The stores:
Buying a gift card to a store is limiting, if you’re not totally sure your giftee loves that store. Retail credits are best when you can shop lots of different things from lots of different brands—and you can still tailor your choice to the person’s personality. Credo for the Whole Foods-shopping, yoga-doing wellness snob, Soko Glam for the K-beauty obsessee, Skin Nerd for your pal across the pond. A level two choice would be to a local store where they can test out creams in person, like Shen in Brooklyn or Merz Apothecary in Chicago. But the top tier gifters will find a niche fragrance shop like Aedes. Fragrance is notoriously hard to buy for someone else and this is the only foolproof way to do it.

The appointments:
A gifted experience can be so much better than just another thing. And this way, you don’t have to worry about finding a time that works with their schedule. Do a little research into the best local beauty spots, and see if any spas offer gift cards. Then, load it up with the amount of a treatment, and voila! If they’re in New York, send them for a Sofie Pavitt or Rescue Spa facial, or a Tenoverten mani pedi. In Miami go to Sana Skin Studio, and LA residents need to try a brow shaping at Striiike. You get the gist. If you’re not quite sure what’s good in the area, go with a tried-and-true chain. For example, your friend might not book themselves a Glamsquad session, but they’ll be happy to have a gift card the next time they have a wedding to attend. There’s a Massage Envy in every city, and a Four Seasons Spa in most major cities. For a close friend who gets it, don’t be afraid to go for a laser hair removal package like this one at Satori. It’s not awkward, and they will love you for it.

The lessons:
In the same vein, a class is a great thing to gift because it’s the gift that keeps on giving. You could go digital, with a makeup Masterclass with Bobbi Brown or a session with celebrity stylist Allison Bornstein. But local places have their own cool classes, too. It’s best to call up a few salons and see what they can do. Some, like Gee Beauty in Miami, have classes listed on their website, while hairstylists and wedding makeup artists might be down to come over and share some tips too, for a fee. To elevate the gift further, include yourself in the booking and make a day out of it. A candle making class is perfect for that—you can find them in most cities, but here are a few (NY, Atlanta, Miami, LA) to get you started.

Photo via ITG