To Gift Card or Not to Gift Card

This is the question that I think so many of us are debating this holiday season.  Just the other day, I was walking behind two women and they were talking.  And yeah, you know me, I eavesdrop.  One of them said, “This year we are doing the $25 Christmas gift card exchange.” The idea of just trading cards didn’t thrill me.  It’s like pulling $25 out of your purse and exchanging bills. Maybe the fact that it’s from a certain store might be the surprise, but . . . uh, no.  It didn’t feel festive.

Don’t get me wrong, I see the pros and cons of a gift card.  And I’ll admit, I’m about to go shopping for cards myself.  But have you ever given someone a surprise gift that was just so darn perfect?  I mean, something that they really wanted, but either didn’t know they wanted it, or had forgotten they wanted it?  Or didn’t think anyone would get it for them.  Something that is so perfect that their expression is worth ten times more than you paid for the gift.  I love giving those kinds of gifts.  It just warms my heart and makes the hours I spent fighting the scrooges at the mall so worth it.

Ahh, but have you ever had to buy a gift for someone, and you didn’t have a clue what to get?  I mean, they are very selective—yes, that’s a nice way to say picky, but that’s not really a bad thing. But you know where they love to shop. So you get them a gift card from there. Is that so wrong?  No?  Maybe? I mean, isn’t it better than getting someone something that they won’t use or don’t like.  Or even worse, will use as a white elephant gift next year.  I’ve gotten a few of those.

But how many gift cards have you gotten that you didn’t use?  Sadly, I have a few.

But if you ask someone what they want and they say… “Oh, I love shopping at Marshalls. Or I need t-shirts and I usually get them at Target.”  And yes, there are people who love shopping.  Shopping is part of the gift.  My daughter always plans a day after the holidays where she will head out with all the gift cards she received and shops till she drops.  And my granddaughter has decided she likes that, too.  It’s a ritual. Their thing.  So is it so wrong to get them what they want?  I don’t think so. And frankly, if I had something in mind that I want from a certain store, I’d like getting a gift card from that store.

But here’s the little issue.  I don’t want to just give them cards.  No, I need something to go along with the card.  In the Craig house, we give lots of little gifts, some are gag gifts, some aren’t.  But now these gifts can’t be pricey, or it takes away from the value of the gift card.  So, the whole gift-card giving makes the holiday season easy, doesn’t pan out.  No, it makes it a bit harder, because now the gifts have price limits, making it more challenging.

So I give gift cards, but I don’t just do gift cards. What about you?  Do you do them?  Do you like giving them?  Like getting them?  Do you feel it’s taken some of the gift-giving joy out of the season?  Do you think Scrooge invented them?


I’ll give away a C.C. Hunter T-shirt, to give away as a gift or to give yourself, to one person who tells me how they feel about gift-card giving. I’ll announce the winner next Tuesday. (Sorry, but this giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only. If you’re reading this on Goodreads, you must got to my blog to enter.)

10 thoughts on “To Gift Card or Not to Gift Card

  1. Your gift giving and gift card post resonated with me. I go out of my way every year to purchase unique gifts suited to that individual. This is important to me as I feel strongly that each person has certain interests, and taste which I realize and enjoy fulfilling. That has been my practice for many years. But when the gift card craze started I avoided it until now. It makes sense to be practical too and buy gift cards which I know that they will appreciate. I give the gifts and the gift card as well. I enjoy being creative so a gift card only is not sufficient. I think many people use them since they are easy and simple and require no time and bother. I have never received one but would enjoy having one.

  2. As a preschool teacher I get tons of gift cards and like you I don’t always use them. It’s the gifts that the kids make that mean the most. They put so much effort into them and they think about what I like. I personally do not give gift cards. I am a people watcher, I believe body language tells you a lot I use this information to find the right gift.

  3. I never received or gave gift cards. I think they are very impersonal, altough I do understand why sometimes it’s way much easier (for instance If you have to choose a gift for your brand new step-mom or a cousin you only ever met 10 years ago when you were 5 and you basically have no idea what to get them). But I prefer finding gifts that are really going to make my friends and family happy. It does not have to be super expensive (my mom adores my secret brownie recipe so when christmas is here, I always make her some or when my best friend went to Canada for a year, I made her a Winter Survival Kit with tons of little things : gloves and a really thick scarf, hand cream, moisturizer and a thousand different lipbalms to make sure she would stay hydrated all through the cold). Those gifts are not very expensive but the smile the person gives you in return is worth a thousand bucks 🙂

  4. I like getting gift cards because I know I’m a hard person to buy for
    I only give gift cards as a last resort if I can’t find them anything.
    Or if they need clothes I’ll buy them a gift card to their favorite store.
    My mother loves shoes and she’s so picky when it comes to them so I just buy her gift cards to go buy her shoes that she likes.

  5. We do gift cards for our 3 daughters and their boyfriends because that’s what they prefer now but I always include some fuzzy socks or a Christmas ornament.

    For the in laws they don’t need any more clutter and are on a budget so we get restaurant cards where they like to eat.

    The only one we really buy for is our 5 year old grandson. For him I go nuts. I get him puzzles which he loves., books that were my favorites at his age, something to cuddle, games and whatever else he’s into at the moment.

  6. I love to receive gift cards! So much fun to go shopping. As far as giving them, it depends on the person and the circumstances. I don’t like to give gifts that people will throw in a closet somewhere and never think of again. I try to give a gift that will bless that individual – and that could be a gift card or an actual gift. It is a case-by-case decision.

  7. As a kid I can remember getting gift cards and getting all disappointed. Now as an adult I love them, esp. if it’s for good food somewhere I can see how some find it very impersonal, but it’s the thought that counts in my book! I have an older niece and nephew who’d much rather have some money or a gift card to pick out what they really want! But, either way your family and time together is the most important thing anyways. Merry Christmas!

  8. I don’t like to give or get gift cards because I feel that they are impersonal. Unless someone specifically asked for one I don’t tend to give them. I got a dunkin donut one for my bday and I actually loved it but I shared it with hubby and kid and person who got me the card whenever I went. That was actually nice this time around. 🙂

  9. I love buying gifts for people. I think gifts are a bit more personal and shows that you were thinking of the person and making an effort to give them something they will enjoy. At work it becomes a bit hectic as I don’t know what the person really enjoys. I work as a medical assistant and giving a gift to my ob-gym doctor is always a challenge. So this year me and my co worker ( rn nurse) decided to ask her what she would like. I was glad she did. As for me and my co worker we give each other a gift card (for me it’s Barnes and noble) of our choice and a little something extra. We agree to do this so it works out perfectly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *