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There has been much debate over whether a gift card is a good gift at all. If you ask two people, each one will likely have a different answer. And, in most cases, each person will have their valid point of view.
We know there are some things that are great about gift cards. For the giver, gift cards are easy to buy and there is no lamenting over what the recipient may or may not want. Gift cards are easily accessible at any chain store, big box store, or online. A generic gift card such one from Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, offers the recipient a way they can acquire anything they want within the limits of the gift card value. Gift cards from specific stores can also come in handy. Especially if the receiver of the card has expressed a sentiment such as, “I only shop at Old Navy” as some tweens and teens are prone to do.
In a pinch, gift cards are absolutely the way to go for their ease of purchase and use. However, there are cases where gift cards simply become a bad habit. Take for example, holiday gift giving. Year after year of receiving and giving gift cards can result in an indifferent kind of feeling which leaves everyone wondering why presents are exchanged at all. Gone is the question, “what did you get”. Everyone knows what everyone got, a gift card! Gift card giving should never become the routine however, they still can be the most appropriate gift you can give at a particular time.
Take for example the relative who doesn’t get to eat out often due to financial circumstances. A gift card to a restaurant could be just the thing to brighten the day. Or, how about the nephew working on a home improvement project? A gift card to the hardware store could really make him happy. And, for those who send gifts in the mail, the gift card easily fits in a number 10 envelope, and unlike cash, there is no risk of theft as most gift cards are traceable.
Of course, on the other side of the debate is the depersonalization that comes from gift card giving. If the recipient feels that little thought was put into the present, the gift card is likely to be underappreciated.
In general, gift cards are a good gift if they are given with the recipient’s tastes in mind. Generic gift cards or e-gift cards don’t convey an intimate message so whenever possible, gift cards should be delivered in person. Nowadays, gift cards can be so specific and range in variety from clothing to books to theater tickets so there is really no reason for them to be impersonal. One other great thing about gift cards is that they are size agnostic meaning, even if your friend really wanted those boots you both saw in the store, you would be better off getting your friend a gift card to the store than trying to second guess their size.