We’re getting down to the nitty-gritty last few days before Christmas, aren’t we? The ones where we frantically turn to the premade cookies, scrawl our names faster on Christmas cards, and glance at our shopping lists only to turn to the gift-card rack at the convenience store.
I know two people who absolutely refuse to give gift cards for Christmas. Refuse. Absolutely. (“It’s so impersonal,” says one. “It puts a price on the relationship” says the other.)
I myself don’t feel so polarized on the issue, and yet I’ll argue with these friends, always playing the other side. (Sometimes I just like a good dinner conversation.)
But I’m okay with giving gift cards. Even at the last second, in the last few days before Christmas — they were usually on my gift list to begin with. And I don’t find them impersonal at all. I find them quite practical, actually, and sometimes downright perfect. The gauge I typically use is How much does this person like to shop?
My mom, for instance, LOVES to shop. So, to her, a gift card comes with the experience of shopping, which she loves. You’re not just giving her the thing she’ll ultimately buy, you’re giving her the whole need to plan a day to go to that store. (My mom has been known to wait on the curb with her purse for me to zoom by and take her to the mall.) Sending her out to a particular brick-and-mortar is part of the gift for her.
My sis-in-law, on the other hand, would rather get a root canal than shop. She wants to just wear something you picked out for her – otherwise, she’s perfectly content in her sweats. She knows she needs clothes for work and events, but she hates finding them. So the selecting for her is part of the gift, really. She would love the actual jacket, rather than the gift card to have to go to that shop.
And restaurants? I think gift cards to restaurants are always great. Especially for a couple who doesn’t get to go out to restaurants often, or a nephew who might want to move up from his usual pizza. Same goes with gift cards to “experiences,” like to movies, or to Dave and Busters, or even to Build-A-Bear. You’re giving that person a day away, is what it feels like.
So I don’t think gift cards are impersonal at all.
What about you? Do you ever feel insulted if someone gives you a gift card? Do you avoid buying them for others?