(NewsUSA) – The holiday season looks different in many ways this year, and chances are finding the perfect gift for your loved one is even more challenging. Shoppers are looking to minimize the amount of time they spend in crowded stores during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and online shopping has its perils, too, with concerns about timely delivery or wondering whether what you see online is what you get.Instead, think outside the box and consider a gift that will have a lifelong impact, the gift of education, by opening or contributing to a tax-advantaged 529 education savings plan for a loved one.Invest529 is a national program for families in any state. It’s offered by Virginia529, the largest 529 in the United States, and assists students of any age."Education is a gift you might never think to give, but it’s one that will continue to give in ways you might not have considered," explains Mary Morris, CEO of Virginia529."Open a 529 savings plan or contribute to an account that your loved one already has. It will communicate the importance of lifelong learning, saving and preparing for the future," she says. The contribution need not be large, she adds. "Any monetary denomination will be beneficial because it will grow tax-free over time, and you can continue to contribute for milestones, birthdays and future holidays," Morris emphasizes.The creation of a 529 plan has benefits for the giver as well as the recipient. Some key advantages of the plans include:- Practicality: Contributing to a 529 plan is simple. You can contribute any amount that fits your budget and watch it grow tax-free over time.- Versatility: Money from 529 plans can be used for public and private universities, schools nationwide and overseas, graduate programs, vocational schools, private or religious K-12 schools, apprenticeships, and even student loan repayment.- Flexibility: Funds from a 529 plan can be transferred to a family member of any age without penalty or saved for graduate school if plans change or the student gets a scholarship. Alternatively, the funds can always be withdrawn, with only the earnings on your investment being taxed.- Simplicity: Anyone at any age can open a 529 account at any time, and making a contribution is quick and easy, with options for contributions online, through a gift card, or by mail.For more information about giving the gift of education, visit virginia529.com/gifting.