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Consumer Reports: Group gifting made easy

Posted at 7:56 AM, Dec 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-16 07:56:52-05

Holiday giving often means chipping in for gifts to family, friends, teachers and coaches. Pooling money might mean better presents, but it can be a logistical nightmare to organize.

Well, there could there be an easier way. Consumer Reports reveals several websites that promise to take the stress out of group gifting.

Holiday shopping can be stressful, particularly if you're organizing for a group gift.

Just ask Mio Hinckson. She's heard every excuse in the book when it comes to collecting money.

"I have to run to the bank, or I don't have cash with me right now, or I'll give it to you later," Hinckson said.

Consumer Reports looked at several websites designed to make group gifting easier.

HipChip sells Visa gift cards as well as gift cards for dozens of restaurants and retailers.

It sends out invitations and reminders for you, charging each contributor a 50-cent processing fee. The Visa gift cards carry an additional $5-$35 fee, depending on the denomination.

GiftStarter goes beyond gift cards. How about a Sennheiser headset for a gaming co-worker, an Apple Watch for the recent graduate or a Solar Travel bag for a friend out to save the planet?

But the 8 percent fee can boost the total quickly, especially on high-ticket items.

"The fee can be a bit pricey, but people need to decide if the convenience is worth it to them," said Nikhil Hutheesing, Consumer Reports.

Another site, E-Gifter, charges no fees and offers gift cards for more than 250 retailers, restaurants and travel partners.

You can invite people by Facebook or text message. Each person can add a photo or record a video message, which will be sent with the gift.

Meaning you and your crew can be big spenders, with very little effort.

Consumer Reports said one important thing to note about these websites is that they don't offer refunds. If you're buying an actual gift, be sure to shop around and compare prices on the item, so you don't end up paying more than you realize for the convenience. Remember to always read a site's privacy policy before placing an order.