Gift card or not to gift card?

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?

26 Responses to Gift card or not to gift card?

  1. bnicklaus says:

    I have thought about this and don’t want to be selfish, but is gift-giving about the giver or the receiver?

    It seems for many that giving gifts is all about the giver, and therefore they want to give what they want to give without any real thought about what the receiver might want or need. I don’t like that and try to avoid that in my giving. That is why I like gift cards. That says, “hey, I want to give you a gift, but I want it to be something you will like, enjoy, use.”

    but, as you said, if a person is really going to be prepared, do a little work, and buy a gift that they know the receiver will enjoy/appreciate, that is probably best.

    of course, I am speaking as a pragmatist, a romantic might say it is more important for the giver to give what is signigicant to him/her, and that in itself will be special to the recipient.

    or maybe I am just selfish

  2. bnicklaus says:

    I have thought about this and don’t want to be selfish, but is gift-giving about the giver or the receiver?

    It seems for many that giving gifts is all about the giver, and therefore they want to give what they want to give without any real thought about what the receiver might want or need. I don’t like that and try to avoid that in my giving. That is why I like gift cards. That says, “hey, I want to give you a gift, but I want it to be something you will like, enjoy, use.”

    but, as you said, if a person is really going to be prepared, do a little work, and buy a gift that they know the receiver will enjoy/appreciate, that is probably best.

    of course, I am speaking as a pragmatist, a romantic might say it is more important for the giver to give what is signigicant to him/her, and that in itself will be special to the recipient.

    or maybe I am just selfish

  3. Marie Roby says:

    I am one who likes gift cards and I do buy gift cards for others to their favorite places. There is a lot written about regifting and I do not like that. I would so much rather receive a gift card so I can go find something I want at my favorite store. And those of you who know me know I like to go out and eat–so one can’t go wrong in giving me your gift cards for that (even McD’s which I frequent).

  4. Meowmix says:

    I have both received gift cards and given gift cards. Unfortunately, when I have given them, I’m afraid it has been when I didn’t know what else to give that person. However, a gift card to someone’s favorite restaurant is a really good idea, I think.

    When receiving them, in most cases, I have enjoyed them. I have received them for Walmart and Kroger and for different restaurants. I enjoyed the restaurant ones the most, because what I ended up getting at Walmart and Kroger just kind of got sucked up into everyday needs……………which isn’t all that bad, either. It’s still a gift. We had the “nasty Santa swap” at work this year, and for a minute, I had in my hand a gift certificate for movie tickets at Malco theaters. I was gigglling about that! But they were almost immediately taken away from me, and I ended the day with a neck massager!! 🙂

    So back to your basic question. I’m afraid I strayed a little. They are, for the most part I think, an impersonal gift. But if you know someone well enough to know they would absolutely LOVE a trip to Pancho’s or O’Charley’s (or maybe Five Guys, is it?), then that is just as personal as if it were a bottle of their favorite cologne, all gift-wrapped.

    That’s my 2 cents worth.

  5. Marie Roby says:

    I am one who likes gift cards and I do buy gift cards for others to their favorite places. There is a lot written about regifting and I do not like that. I would so much rather receive a gift card so I can go find something I want at my favorite store. And those of you who know me know I like to go out and eat–so one can’t go wrong in giving me your gift cards for that (even McD’s which I frequent).

  6. Meowmix says:

    I have both received gift cards and given gift cards. Unfortunately, when I have given them, I’m afraid it has been when I didn’t know what else to give that person. However, a gift card to someone’s favorite restaurant is a really good idea, I think.

    When receiving them, in most cases, I have enjoyed them. I have received them for Walmart and Kroger and for different restaurants. I enjoyed the restaurant ones the most, because what I ended up getting at Walmart and Kroger just kind of got sucked up into everyday needs……………which isn’t all that bad, either. It’s still a gift. We had the “nasty Santa swap” at work this year, and for a minute, I had in my hand a gift certificate for movie tickets at Malco theaters. I was gigglling about that! But they were almost immediately taken away from me, and I ended the day with a neck massager!! 🙂

    So back to your basic question. I’m afraid I strayed a little. They are, for the most part I think, an impersonal gift. But if you know someone well enough to know they would absolutely LOVE a trip to Pancho’s or O’Charley’s (or maybe Five Guys, is it?), then that is just as personal as if it were a bottle of their favorite cologne, all gift-wrapped.

    That’s my 2 cents worth.

  7. catsanddogs says:

    I’m one that likes gift cards. I have given and received cards. I have
    always tried to get my friends ones that will mean something to them,
    and therefore never thought of them as impersonal. I like to give cads to bookstores and video stores because most people read and watch movies. Anyone who knows me knows I will always be happy with restaurant cards (including McD’s) because I love going out to eat.

    Some people even prefer cash, and I don’t think that is impersonal
    if that is what they prefer. Yes, I will always accept cash too!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  8. catsanddogs says:

    I’m one that likes gift cards. I have given and received cards. I have
    always tried to get my friends ones that will mean something to them,
    and therefore never thought of them as impersonal. I like to give cads to bookstores and video stores because most people read and watch movies. Anyone who knows me knows I will always be happy with restaurant cards (including McD’s) because I love going out to eat.

    Some people even prefer cash, and I don’t think that is impersonal
    if that is what they prefer. Yes, I will always accept cash too!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

  9. bradpalmore says:

    My brother asked me what restaurant I’d like a gift card to. I told him McD’s and he laughed and said to “think higher”. I asked him if he’d ever tried to seat or pay for a family of five in our area. I got McD’s for Xmas!

  10. Meowmix says:

    One thing about cash is, it’s the right size and color, isn’t it?

    I was in Arlington last June, and I don’t think I saw a McDonald’s anywhere. Do you all have to cross into Tennessee before you find one? 🙂

  11. catsanddogs says:

    We just didn’t get you to the right place. I know where 5 of them are, and sometimes I have to change because I get too embarrassed. The managers know my husband and I well (on a good note thankfully).

  12. Stoogelover says:

    I love receiving gift cards! Extends the joy of Christmas. With the cost of mailing gifts these days, gift cards make even more sense. I’ve paid almost as much to mail a gift as to buy it … and sometimes more to mail it!

  13. Stoogelover says:

    I love receiving gift cards! Extends the joy of Christmas. With the cost of mailing gifts these days, gift cards make even more sense. I’ve paid almost as much to mail a gift as to buy it … and sometimes more to mail it!

  14. Randy says:

    I’ve gone back and forth between the merits of gift cards. I like gift cards from stores I frequent. It’s always an attitude or intent thing. “Let me get a gift card to get your name of the list” is troublesome.

    I also ponder the troublesome nature of everyone just exchanging gifts cards. Why give you a gift card and you give me a gift card? Why didn’t we just keep our money and just give each other a hug and a thank you for being my friend?

  15. Randy says:

    I’ve gone back and forth between the merits of gift cards. I like gift cards from stores I frequent. It’s always an attitude or intent thing. “Let me get a gift card to get your name of the list” is troublesome.

    I also ponder the troublesome nature of everyone just exchanging gifts cards. Why give you a gift card and you give me a gift card? Why didn’t we just keep our money and just give each other a hug and a thank you for being my friend?

  16. bradpalmore says:

    I think you are right in cutting to the heart of this issue. It is about motive. Any gift given with the right motives could be a good one.

  17. bradpalmore says:

    Five Guys will do just fine. 2 cents, however, won’t do much anywhere.

  18. bradpalmore says:

    You know, I’ll milk a $20 iTunes gift card for months. It’s party because I don’t want to waste it and partly because I don’t want it to end. At 99 cents per song, though, you can make it last.

  19. bradpalmore says:

    That’s on a commercial for some restaurant. Applebee’s maybe. Would it be more embarrassing if you spent more on your card for me than I spent on my card for you?

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