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NFTs Are the Big Holiday Gift This Year — Whether You Want One or Not

By Suzanne Woolley, Claire Ballentine and Francesca Maglione

This Christmas’s unexpected stocking stuffer might be an NFT.

People who are both new and experienced in the nascent world of non-fungible tokens say they’re planning on distributing the digital gifts to friends and family — who might not really know what to do with the presents.

Abraham Aradillas says he hadn’t heard of an NFT until about six months ago, after they exploded onto the popular culture mainstream and were parodied by SNL. But now the 23-year-old truck driver from Dallas says he’ll be buying Platy Punks — a popular NFT with the image of a platypus — for all his friends for Christmas, and he thinks they’ll be excited and confused.

Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA from Pexels

“When I told my friends I bought an NFT, they laughed at me. They’re like ‘You bought a picture of a platypus.’ So I think they’ll have the same reaction,” Aradillas said.

As the prices of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have skyrocketed in the past year, NFTs have been lifted up in the mania. They’ve piqued the interest of people who started trading and managing their own portfolios during the pandemic, as well as those who finally got a handle on crypto.

Some gift givers say they hope their friends and relatives will learn about NFTs or that the token will be a good investment: Sort of like a lottery scratch-off, the gift could pay off big time. In other cases, the gifts are more akin to collectables, souvenirs or art.

Wallet’ and ‘Keys’

For recipients, the gift can feel like a chore. If they are new to crypto, they have to learn terms like “wallet” and “keys,” not to mention what NFT stands for.

Educating family about NFTs is part of Jessica Walker’s motivation for giving the tokens as gifts this year for Christmas.

“To understand the new technology, you have to be introduced to it on a personal level,” said Walker, 28, who creates educational content for price-tracking website CoinMarketCap.

Her budget is about one Ethereum, or $4,100 U.S. dollars. Walker’s father and 25-year-old brother are football fans, so she’s eyeing some of the products on Tom Brady’s NFT platform Autograph. For her mom, an avid news follower, she’s looking at an NFT from a line created by the Associated Press.

She thinks her mom, who has her own Coinbase account, will appreciate the gift. Her brother, however, is a different story. “My brother will look at me slightly disappointed that I have not bought him food or alcohol,” Walker said.

Paula Sanguino, 36, a dental hygienist of Raleigh, North Carolina, says her first reaction to being given an NFT was excitement — along with a bunch of questions. She received the web address paulas.eth from a friend. It’s a domain name — like .com or .net — but also functions as an NFT as well as a way to send and receive cryptocurrencies.

“‘Thank you! Is this a domain? What do I do with this? Can I sell it later?’” Sanguino recalled saying. “I was very confused by it when he shared it with me.” She said it took her a few weeks to wrap her head around the concept of why something like this would be worth as much money as it was.

OnChain Monkey

Montreal resident Nicolas Hebert is using gifts of NFTs as something of a memorial to a friend who recently died. Hebert, a 30-year-old commercial manager in the Canadian cannabis industry, and two other pals are giving their friend’s niece and nephew, both under age 12, NFTs in honor of him. “We know this is something he would have done this year,” Hebert said.

The kids will get an OnChain Monkey, which initially cost Hebert about $40 when he helped mint it but is now worth around $2,000 to $2,500, he said. They will also be getting an NFT called 2 Ballerz, which cost $200 each to mint. There’s no current marketplace for Ballerz.

Rather than buy NFTs to give, some families are creating them. Palo Alto-based angel investor Chris Eberle helped his 13-year-old son, who wants to be an animator, design one that will go out to family.

The recipients will learn of their NFTs in an old-school way, through a picture in a card. “There’s more of a payoff when you open a card with a cool picture,” said Eberle, 47, who just started his own investment company, Defiant Capital, after serving as director of content and marketing globalization at Netflix. 

Gift givers might want to feel out their recipients first to see if the present would be welcome.

Jules, a 16-year-old from Maryland, said he would be disappointed if he got an NFT as a gift, particularly because of the energy used to create crypto.

“I wouldn’t know what to do with it, to be honest,” said Jules, whose mother asked not to use his last name. “What do you do with it? I think I would just hold onto it. I think that would be the least harmful thing I would do. It really holds no value to me.”

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.

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