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Play Your Cards Right: How To Make the Most of Holiday Gift Vouchers

After an entire month of virtuously buying for others, it's time to do some shopping for yourself. But before you hit those seasonal sales, take stock of your gift cards. Here are five tips for smartly spending your vouchers:

1. Make a wishlist.
Add all the things you've been obsessing over this season and didn't find under the tree. If your gift card works for one of those items, find a coupon code or wait for a special promotion to save even more cash. The more you can get for free, the better.

2. Don't spend big just because you can.
It can be tempting to recklessly blow vouchers on things you don't really want or need. Unless you have a looming expiration date (although most gift cards last forever these days) let those can't-live-without items come to you.

3. Save money on necessities.
Say you receive a $100 Walmart gift card. Instead of blowing it on marked down holiday decorations or video games you're never going to play, stock up on toiletries, groceries and other items you don't neccessarily want, but have to buy. This frees up cash for more exciting purchases, like Marc Jacobs shoes and Madewell party dresses.

4. Trade it in.
Companies like PlasticJungle.com, GiftCardRescue.com and Cardpool.com allow users to buy and sell their unwanted credit. Unfortunately, if you're looking for fast cash, don't expect to receive your present's full value—most places offer between 75 and 90 percent of what the card is actually worth. But you might consider putting that money toward one of the site's impressive stock of discounted cards. It definitely takes a little legwork, but receiving credit towards a brand you love is worth it.

5. Regift!
If you don't like the store you have all this extra cash for, imagine who would. Pass it on—or use your credit to buy something for her.

What do you plan on buying with gift cards this season?

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