Christmas Gift Giving

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Americans exhausted by the long lines, the decision-making and sometimes the disappointment involved with holiday gift-giving are expected to opt for simple gift cards in record numbers this year.

A survey done last month by America's Research Group has found that an all-time-high 51 percent plan to put gift certificate cards under the tree this year, or maybe even something much more basic: cash.

America's Research Group chairman Britt Beemer said gift-givers and gift recipients like the convenience. He said with a gift card, there's no searching for the perfect gift -- and little risk of receiving something useless or unwanted.

And, he said many consumers know that if they use a gift card after Christmas, that $25 or $35 present may end up buying them a $50 or $75 item at a post-holiday sale.

Plus, when you give or receive a gift card, you don't have to worry about the tougher return policies now in effect at many retailers.