I received my drop shipment of Teenage Christian magazine this week and was thumbing through it before I distributed it to the teens in my youth group. In the magazine, which arrived after Christmas, was a list of Dos and Don’ts for Christmas giving. One of the items listed was gift cards, and it was placed in the Don’ts list for being too impersonal. I sort of chuckled at this, because I remember thinking this way a few years ago. My attitude has completely changed, mostly because I have been the recipient of several of these cards.
I enjoy receiving gift cards if they are to places I frequent. Gift cards to places I don’t go, however, are a different story. This is even more troublesome when the gift card is to a place I don’t go and isn’t enough to actually purchase anything from the store. Gift cards to places I visit, however, are like receiving a little piece of flexible treasure. When my wife asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told her to just get me a gift card. Starbucks and iTunes are my favorites. She told me she wouldn’t get me a gift card, and she didn’t. My oldest son got me one for iTunes, though (awsome gift!).
I can understand her attitude toward getting me a gift card. I don’t think I would ever get my wife a gift card for Christmas, either. If I did, it would have to be to someplace she didn’t usually go or she would spend it on family needs. I might as well just get her gift certificates to the grocery store. If I gave her one to a place she didn’t go, I’d have to make sure she could actually get something there. By the time I’ve done all the research to figure it out, I could have just purchased the gift I decided she could afford.
So perhaps gift cards are more impersonal than a specific gift that was chosen for a particular person. I suppose the question at this point is whether they are too impersonal. Are they a cop out, or does being able to give a gift card to a favorite store reflect the same kind of thought that giving a sweater by a favorite designer would?
Let me know your thoughts. Would you give a gift card? Would you like to receive a gift card as a gift? If you could pick the store to receive a gift from, what store would it be?