The other day I was at the grocery store and a mom and her teen daughter were in front of me. They had a small bag of chips and a bunch of gift cards. I think the chips were a bribe for the teen! Their conversation was mostly the mom justifying buying gift cards for everyone and the daughter trying to convince her mom that gift cards are lame and for lazy people.
Their conversation involved much eye rolling and sighs from the teen. And I just looked around as if I couldn’t hear them. The mom kept trying to make eye contact with me, but I couldn’t do it. I know it’s a sign of sisterhood, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get in the middle of that debate.
While, in general, I don’t think gift cards are lame they can be. And sometimes it’s not so much that it’s a gift card. But how it’s given or the feeling you get when you are the recipient. I think we’ve all been on the receiving end of a gift card that we know was not really intended for us, a last minute gift of whatever is at the check out stand or one of the ‘I didn’t want to just give you cash so you’ll get this totally worthless gift card’ kind of gifts.
I love giving gift cards. They’re easy, flexible and allows the recipient to get exactly what they want. Some stores facilitate that much more easily. These days, unless you know someone is dying for specific CD it’s just easier to let them download what they want to whatever device they want. And sure you can pay for someone’s coffee if you’re with them at Starbucks but how does that translate to being a gift for the holidays?
Some people think gift cards are a cop-out. Besides being super easy to transport, especially if you’re traveling and taking gifts with you, there’s nothing they’ll need to return. For people who travel, it’s often nice to have a gift card for those little conveniences or indulgences. For moms who won’t splurge on themselves gift cards somewhat force them to do something for themselves.
And while that $19 drill set seems awesome and like a great deal, if dad doesn’t really want it or it’s not really all that useful, or if it’s not even worth the money you spent because it’s a cheap products I’d have to say a $20 gift card would be better received. Even a $15 gift card to the home improvement store would make him happier. And being creative with the wrapping allows you to show that you really do understand his need for more power tools.
These days there are gift cards for pretty much everything. Got someone on your list that plays online games, chances are there’s a card for the site they use. Tech gadget geek? I’ve seen those type too. Restaurant? From fast food to fine dining all the choices would be enough to make you need a cocktail.
Years ago, I’d have told you giving gift certificates was lame and stupid. You were basically telling the person you didn’t really want to shop for them. Fast forward 20 years with smart phones, online shopping with one-touch buying, guaranteed super-fast shipping and I’m a convert to the gift card.
The recipient uses it when they want, to get what they want. And if they’re like me, they’ll probably have a coupon and will stretch that $20 gift card pretty far. So if you’re late to the holiday gift buying game, grab some gift cards and use your creativity to wrap them. Welcome to the Year of the Gift Card!
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