Gift cards aren’t gifts

gift-cardsIf it’s the thought that counts, then gift cards don’t count much at all.

They’re popular, granted. Six out of 10 people responding to National Retail Federation surveys this year said they wanted to receive gift cards for the holidays, and more than half said they planned to give them.

The rest of us may think of gift cards as a cop-out. Gift cards are what you give when you don’t have a clue what makes the recipient tick and can’t trouble yourself to find out.

In my latest for the Associated Press, why it makes more sense to give cash this holiday season instead of gift cards, and why the search for the perfect gift still matters.

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  1. I disagree about the gift card “non – gift”. I belong to a facebook group that I joined a few months ago. Several of the women decided it would be nice to do a Christmas card exchange among us. These women chat about concerns of the group – mostly women, over age 50, mostly single and without children or very much close family and how we cope day to day and plan for our futures. No, I don’t “know” any of them personally, but I would be happy to visit at a coffee shop and share a cup of coffee or tea and some in person conversation. Long story short, I decided to enclose a small gift card from Starbucks in each card since I can’t personally fly all over the country to meet and have a cup of coffee/tea. I hope they consider it as a friendly gesture of good will for all of the conversations we have on facebook almost every day and not a cop out because I don’t know them intimately.

  2. I disagree with your opinion that gift cards are not gifts and indicate a lack of thought on the part of the giver. I would enjoy a gift card to some place I like to shop. What I wish you would address are the thoughtless gift givers who support their daughter-in-law’s selling of home based product (ie. Avon, Sentsy, Thirty-one, etc.) to gain favor, show support or whatever with said in-laws and then “gift” these products to their own friends who would never buy them in the first place!! They are free to buy all of that stuff for themselves they want but to turn around and “gift” it over and over to friends who don’t use and have expressed zero interest in having any of it is far less considerate than a thoughtfully purchased gift card.

    • Some readers tell me there are people who are so hard to please that gift cards are the only solution. A better option might be discontinuing the gift exchange altogether.

      • Sorry if I wasn’t clear in my opinion above. The group decided to do a Christmas card exchange. Since I have no family, and could afford the expenditure, I decided to enclose a little “gift” to everyone on the card exchange. It was not meant as anything other than a friendly gesture of “let’s have a cup of coffee” – certainly was not intended as part of a gift exchange.