A personal bright spot to the economic crisis and strengthening dollar is that I will be sending cash to my friends in Italy for Christmas because this is the most cost effective way for me to send them a gift of the greatest value.
I have known my friends for years and after a while there are no truly “American” gifts to send them that are not terribly expensive to ship or that aren’t perishable. One friend got married last year and while I was not able to attend the wedding I sent her and her new husband some Euros to spend on what they wanted. They enjoyed the gift. One time I had some left over lira and sent them to my friend for her birthday. Instead of spending $20 to send a mediocre gift (remember shipping constraints), I sent the cash in a card. Rather than spending $35-40 on a gift, plus shipping, I could send the equivalent amount in currency. Even with the transaction fees and if I choose to have the card insured, for an additional dollar or so, the gift is worth more. I could send $50 in Euros or in a money order and everyone is happy.
Additionally, another bright side to this is that I do not have to worry about sizes and can stick to a set budget. That is the benefit of buying a gift card or giving someone cash locally as well. There are no taxes or shipping costs to ruin your budget. While it is nice to receive a package from someone with a treat inside it is also nice to know that the sender didn’t blow his/her budget by sending a heavy inexpensive gift.