Heather over at CamianAcademy wrote a post about how she does not enjoy the trend towards giving gift cards and feels that "There's just something intensely impersonal about a gift card.". While I can see her point (and know several people who share her sentiments), I actually love to give and receive them.
I guess that I feel that by giving a gift card, I am not only giving them something that they will definitely use and enjoy, but I am also giving them the experience and the fun of picking and debating about what to buy with the card. I know that when I give my Dad and his wife a Barnes and Noble gift card, they will spend a nice evening, browsing, reading and looking for just that right book to buy. They enjoy doing that and I enjoy gving them the opportunity…they often will use my gift card to splurge a little and spend a bit more on something then they normally would have. Giving a gift card also ensures that they will buy something unlike giving cash.
Another thing that I personally like about receiving gift cards is that usually there is not much that I want/need right now. Most of the time when I am trying to come up with a Christmas list, I feel somewhat pressured to find something to include. I notice that the boys tend to do this as well…they have a couple of items that they really want and have wanted for awhile. But a lot of what they put on their lists are things that they did not even think about until asked to come up with a list. Gift cards are great because it allows me to spread out the fun and wait until I find something that I really want. It makes me think about/appreciate the person who gave me the gift card when I make the purchase and I get something that I really do want and will use.
Gift cards are also really great when you are not really sure if your taste matches the person to whom you are giving the present. I have several teen age cousins and there is no way that I have any clue at what they are interested in. But I still want them to get something they will enjoy. I love to read, but I also have pretty defined tastes and prefer to pick out my own books (I don't have much free time to read and have a very long "to read" list). I don't own a lot of dvds because I have to really love a movie and know that I will watch it over and over in order to want to buy it (I rarely watch movies more then once). I am also fairly particular about the clothes that I like…
Hmmm…maybe I am just too picky! But I guess that at this stage of life that I am at, I don't need a lot of new stuff and what stuff I want, I buy. I don't save it up for a birthday or Christmas. And I find that many of the people for whom I buy presents for need very little as well…so I would rather they get what they want rather then me try to buy what I think they want.
Now of course, folks can just tell me what they want and I can buy it for them, but how is it more personal for them to tell me exactly what book or dvd they want? I feel kind of funny sometimes "making a list" mainly because I could just as easily go out and buy whatever it is that I am asking for.
Now this does not mean that I never buy personal presents for folks! I usually try to do most of my shopping at local craft fairs and there are often times when I see something that I just know that would be perfect for someone. But I also do not like feeling like I have to find something just to have a gift.
Now I do enjoy buying presents for kids because they usually can't just go out and buy what they want and there are lots of fun and neat things out there. And when I am shopping for my boys I also try to throw in some fun educational stuff or good books. Of course the boys are super easy to shop for since I know them so well.
Ah well, I have gone on long enough. There is no right answer to the gift card debate. Just felt the need to put in my two cents. I will say that I love to receive them…if anyone feels the desire to get me one, my favorite places are half.com, audible.com, Barnes and Noble, iTunes and Starbucks!