Handing a gift card over to a loved one this holiday season might make you feel like you took the easy way out.
The desire for gift cards stems from people's bad experiences with receiving gifts, said Dan Horne, a professor of marketing and associate dean for the School of Business at Providence College. About 15 percent of Christmas gifts are never used, said Horne, who has studied giving and gift cards.
"Gifts are a communication about the state of the relationship," he said. "So when you give me a gift I don't want, it says in part that you don't know me."
The next question becomes: What gift card should you buy? Well, of course, you should think about where the person you're giving the card to likes to shop.