Last-Minute Holiday Gifts for $35 or Less

Originally published by Crystal Kim on Barron’s.

First tip: don’t stress. Here’s how to embrace digital gifting—in a personal way.

<NordstromLast-minute gifting just got a whole lot more convenient. On Tuesday, Nordstrom rolled out e-gifting, a non-committal, but personalized solution to soothe holiday shopping angst. To give an “e-gift,” shoppers pick an item and pay through The gift choice is emailed to the recipient who can then pick a color and size. The best part: recipients who don’t like their gifts can skip the return lines and opt for a gift card instead. The giver is none the wiser, and the recipient gets exactly what he or she wants.

Nordstrom is the first to roll out e-gifting, but others could soon start. The service is powered by a company called CashStar, which already does other work with Best Buy, Crate & Barrel, lululemon athletica and Sephora.

There’s clearly demand for a gift that sits somewhere between a pre-paid card and a carefully chosen, beautifully wrapped present. Last year, some $90 billion worth of gifts were returned, according to National Retail Federation. Shoppers—eager to avoid the rejection—purchased $130 billion worth of gift cards, based on data from research firm CEB TowerGroup.