The holidays are her favorite time of the year and Debbie, a busy mother of three, has found a savvy way of extending the joys of the season to many of her friends and family. "I buy gift cards," she says. "Not only are gift cards a really convenient gift to buy, but I give every person the option of getting what they want and more importantly, when they want it."

Patricia Pao, a retail expert and founder of The Pao Principle, a consultancy based in New York, agrees that gift cards are smart way of turning a short season into a year-long celebration, which is the general life span of the average card. "Gift cards offer a perpetual holiday at the recipient's demand," she observes. "They foster an ongoing dialogue throughout the year, since your recipients are likely to call you or write you and mention what they have bought with the gift card. It's a gift that does not end with the holiday."

Do you plan to purchase gift cards as holiday presents this year?
Don't Know3%

Clearly, women have been wooed by the ease and benefits afforded by gift cards in recent years, and they will be snapping them up again this year in strong numbers. Nearly three in four female respondents told the Cotton Incorporated Lifestyle Monitor™ that they planned to purchase gift cards during the holiday season as presents for others. For the majority of women, gift cards give what women would like to receive; according to the Monitor, nearly one in two female respondents said that they want to receive a gift card this season.

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