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At first glance, you might think these are the perfect holiday presents. But don't be fooled — they come with some hidden drawbacks.
What to buy instead: A mix tape 2.0. iTunes lets you buy songs then email them directly to a friend, along with a personal message.
Cheese of the Month Club
What to buy instead: For a foodie friend, put together your own gorgeous gift basket of preserves, spices, bread, and cured meats. It looks super luxe and can be done for $50, what you'd spend on just one shipment of cheese.
The DVD of His New Favorite Movie
What to buy instead: For the same cost as a DVD, you can sign him up for four months of unlimited movies. Netflix just added the option of a streaming-only package, which allows you to instantly watch thousands of movies from your computer (or on your TV via Wii or PS3) for $7.99 a month.
A Pretty Top from a Boutique
What to buy instead: Stick with chains and department stores–and include a gift receipt. The item has all the benefits of a gift card (exchangeable for anything) without the impersonal feel. Plus, how awesome is it when you can turn one returned sweater into three because of markdowns?!
Credit Card Gift Cards
What to buy instead: Stick with a plain old gift card, but make sure it's place or website they'll go to in the next year–iTunes is a safe bet— because certain ones start to lose value after 12 months.
$50 to Some Super Pricey Store
What to buy instead: Impress a luxe-loving friend with a designer label item that you picked up for cheap at a discount store, where you can find high-end accessories marked waaay down. Cut off the discount pricetag, leave on the original tag (but black out the price), and she'll never know it was a bargain.