Gift cards sell like crazy this time of year, but I've always preferred to give the gift of spa. Ironically, a lot of times it's the stressed-out people who need a relaxing massage or facial, but they don't have the time or money to make it happen. Giving a spa gift certificate is a way to treat someone right, but there are a few things to take note of.
Service or cash amount? Personally, I like the idea of giving someone a certificate for a particular service, because it keeps the price hidden and is therefore a bit more discreet. But if you're not sure what the person would like, or if you're on a limited budget, give a certificate with a dollar amount.
For three more tips,
Clear things up. Make sure that you and the spa agree on what you're getting. Most of the time, it should go smoothly, but earlier this year, I had a problem. I sent my mom to Kiva, a swanky spa in Chicago, with a gift certificate for a massage and facial. When she was done, they told her she owed $75 for the facial. I could have saved my mom some embarrassment and awkwardness if I'd called the spa before her appointment to confirm that everything was already paid for.
Add gratuity. In other words, leave the tip ahead of time. This way, your friend can go in, enjoy the service, and take off. A total gift!
Check the expiration date. Most certificates will be good for year, but check the expiration date just to be sure. You might even want to say something to your friend like, "And it's good for a year, so you have plenty of time to go at your leisure."