Gift cards can be really popular during the holiday season, or on other occasions such as birthdays. You can buy whatever suits your fancy, from the particular retailer associated with that card. There’s freedom of choice involved for the recipient, where you can wind up avoiding receiving some ugly sweater, 1970’s necktie, or something of the like. Instead, you get what you want!
Not everyone sees it that way. Some people take it personally when they get a gift card as a gift, in the sense of getting offended by receiving something like this. The idea with this point of view seems to be that a gift should be given with the intent of providing the recipient with something he or she really wants. In other words, thinking of that person’s wishes in particular when buying a gift that will itself actually be used.
For example: if you know your wife has always talked about wanting to see a the opera live, you might buy tickets for an upcoming performance – along with plans for dinner, etc. Or, if you know your husband has a long commute to work that he finds boring or stressful, you can get him a satellite radio subscription. These are examples of how you show that you really know the person, that you care, and that you’ve been paying attention to what they need.
Personally, in terms of receiving gifts, I’m totally cool with gift cards, and actually like them. The idea of getting exactly what I want is a good thing, and it doesn’t matter if the other person thought of it or not. Actually, I’m not really needing any gifts in the first place, but I suppose that’s besides the point!
As far as giving gifts is concerned, however, I look at it differently. In that case, I tend to buy specific gifts for certain people. The way I see it, some family members such as your wife (or husband), young kids, and parents ought to get specific gifts. Or at least that’s how I do it. Some of these creative birthday gifts are a perfect example of special gifts to give. Those are people that won’t be getting gift cards from me! There are also a few other family members that would get gifts, and they will be actual gifts as well (unless I simply can’t think of anything or run out of time). However, if I ever chose to buy a gift for a gift exchange at work, or for a teacher/daycare provider (a good idea, by the way), I think a gift card actually might be more appropriate.
When you don’t know someone, it might be better safe than sorry – in which case a gift card works better. For someone you know, maybe a real, actual gift is better. Unless that person is like me, who isn’t needing gifts in general but would be totally happy with a gift card anyway 🙂 But hey, we’re all different, and there’s no right or wrong way in general. Just depends on the situation, and the preferences of the people involved!
My Questions for You:
What do you think about giving or receiving gift cards for holiday or birthday gifts?
Do you view things differently based on giving or receiving?
Do you also see distinction between giving to family/close friends, vs. others you don’t know as well?