When gift cards first hit the mass market they were given a bad rap; people thought they were an ‘easy out’ gift. They felt the cards didn’t take any thought… that there was no real feeling or heart behind them and I couldn’t disagree more and here’s why. (Stay tuned for my Big Aha Gift Card Tip at the bottom)
I am sure you have been on the end of a bad gift… for example being given yet another pair of black leather gloves from your in-laws for the 4th year in a row (do I strike you, as someone that loses their gloves regularly?) or an ugly sweater or blouse that you hold up after unwrapping it and think “OMG what were they thinking? And who were they thinking about? Clearly not about me because what about me says I would EVER consider wearing this?” (I remember the animal print blouse of 1992 like it was yesterday… oh so scary). But while all this goes through your mind, you need to keep your facial expressions in check, flash your best fake smile and muster a heartfelt Thank you.
It is a gift after all, the person did physically go into a store, walk the aisles, fight the crowds and spend their hard earned money while thinking of you so for that… you need to say ‘Thank you’. (saying Thank you for every and ALL gifts given brings me to a whole other subject and we will definitely cover in another blog post soon)
Instead of faking it over a ‘bad’ or inappropriate gift wouldn’t your life (or, at least, the gift giving exchange) be so much better if you received something you could really use. Personally I would much prefer to be given a gift card from one of my favorite stores, restaurants, or coffee shops … a place where I am likely to spend $$ in the near future; if not within the month.
A thoughtful personal gift is not reflected in the amount of time it takes to acquire… we should not judge the giver on whether or not, they had to fight holiday traffic in a mall parking lot or whether they picked up the gift card while shopping for groceries from their HUGE gift card selection at Safeway.
A gift – by definition is- a given
Gift cards are the perfect gift, in my opinion. They are a wonderful stand alone option or ideal as an accompaniment to anything else when you aren’t sure what the recipient is wanting or needing specifically but do have a general sense of what they like. If you know that your gift recipient is a regular visitor to their local Starbucks, why wouldn’t a loaded gift card attached to a new coffee or tea mug be a thoughtful gesture here. If you know that your son and daughter in law want to outfit the patio at their new home, why wouldn’t a Home Depot gift card be a great idea and help them get that gorgeous new Weber; maybe hang it onto a new BBQ spatula or jar of fancy BBQ sauce.
My Big Aha Gift Card Tip – this is how I take my Gift Card giving and receiving to another level. Before giving out a gift card, I write my name and usually alil’ note on the card with a sharpie about my intention on how I foresee the recipient using it. (of course, they can use it for whatever tickles their fancy but my note is simply my intention or thought)
I am excited to know that when my nephew goes to spend his Toys R Us gift card and I have my name on it; he will think of his Auntie as he is purchasing his new game or a client will know what THIS is the Starbuck’s card that I gave them when enjoying their latte.
Now here is the ‘cherry on top’ …When you receive a gift card, make sure you write the giver’s name on the card and THEN when you use the card (next week, next month etc…) pop them off a quick note, text or whatever to let them know what they bought you, how excited you are and again a Thank you!! I usually do this right when I am at the checkout and include a picture taken with my phone of the item ‘they’ helped you buy .
Gift cards are even a great addition to any gift basket purchase… we regularly include Starbuck’s cards to our gourmet, get well or birthday baskets as well as Cineplex with our college care or movie baskets.
In my opinion, gift cards and our receptiveness have come a long way from where they started so don’t feel bad when giving a gift card this holiday season! Embrace them 🙂 Each and every one of your recipients will so appreciate them, I promise.
What’s your favourite gift card to get or give? I would love to hear.