When people get stuck for a gift idea, one of the top things they resort to is a gift card.
Gift cards can be great gifts. I’ve been the happy recipient of many of them. I’ve also been known to give them as gifts, too.
But sometimes, a gift card is the kind of gift that really isn’t a gift.
Before you buy a gift card for someone, consider these things:
1) Is the gift card for a place the recipient will actually visit? Your recipient may oppose shopping at particular stores or eating at particular restaurants. A vegan isn’t going to want a gift card to a steakhouse, even if they do have vegan options on the menu.
2) Is the value of the gift card enough to purchase anything? If you give a $25 gift card to a store, but almost everything worth buying there starts at $35, you’re not really giving a gift. You’re giving a discount.
3) Is there a store near the person or can they use the gift card online? The card will never be used if it’s not someplace they’re able to get to easily.
4)Are you giving a gift card out of obligation? We sometimes get caught up in the idea that we should buy a person a gift for a particular occasion, even if we don’t really know that person well enough to know what to get them.
If you truly want to give a gift, and you truly want to give a gift card, by all means, do so. But if you’re only doing it because you feel like you’ll be judged if you don’t, then skip it. Make a plate of cookies and send a card.
5)Will the store be in business a year from now? Sure the economy is improving, but there are still a lot of retailers and restaurants that are struggling. And when those businesses go down, the first thing they do is stop honoring gift cards. Stay away from places that seem risky or you’ll be giving a worthless gift.
It can be hard to figure out what to buy for someone who’s hard to buy for. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to buy the perfect thing. We worry about whether the gifts are enough. And sometimes we come to the conclusion we should just give cash.
I don’t know what the right answer is, but I do know that making a rush decision on a purchase of any kind is a bad idea. Take some time to think about the recipient and why you want to give a gift, and a lasting, memorable gift idea will come to you.