When we’re choosing a present, we tend to go for fancier items that will impress the recipient. We hope it will show them how much we care and assume it will make them happier. But research shows that from a getter’s perspective, we prefer practical gifts over things that are unique but less useful. So don’t worry whether a gift certificate will seem thoughtless. Your friend will probably love it—and will definitely love what she buys with it.

MORE: How to Give the Perfect Gift