Gift cards are a common and convenient gift giving option nowadays, though, as a side-effect of their convenience, gift cards are sometimes overused or even mis-used.
Should I give a Gift Card?
It depends on the recipient, occasion and how the gift card is presented. It's very similar to giving money and in some cases giving a gift card can be considered an impersonal gift, labeling you as one whose gift-giving skills could use some fine tuning.
Nowadays, you can get a gift card for almost anything. From movies to restaurants and clothing to travel. Gift cards make it easy to get a gift for someone if you are struggling in choosing a gift. That's why they are sometimes seen as an impersonal gift. Giving these too often or in the wrong situation, can give the impression that you didn't put much thought or effort in buying the gift -- the recipient may think that you just "grabbed" a gift card at the last minute just to get it over with.
Wrong situations for giving a gift card are generally occasions that call for a gift of a more personal nature like an Anniversary or Valentine's Day. Also, it's usually best to avoid the general purpose gift cards from the major credit card companies because these are essentially just gifts of cash and convey that very little thought or effort was put into the gift choice.
Gift Cards Can be a Great Choice
That's not to say that gift cards aren't a good gift idea -- because when given in the right situation gift cards can be a great choice. When giving gifts to large groups like co-workers and business associates, or teachers or your mail carrier, gift cards make a nice gift. You may not have a personal relationship with the recipients and you're giving them the ability to choose something they'd really appreciate.
Gift cards are also great gifts for a child or teenager. For children, this is a fun gift that helps them to learn more about money. With teenagers, it can be hard to stay up on the latest on what's "in" and "not in" and they generally like to have the freedom of picking out their own gift. For the college bound student, gift cards are always put to good use and well appreciated. Gift cards are also a popular choice for gift exchange parties where the recipient is unknown.
Gift Card Tips
- To make the giving a gift card more personal, choose one from a store that the recipient likes or from a store the recipient would normally not shop at out of practicality or budget, but they would like to. This will show that you put some thought and effort into the gift to find something that was well suited for them.
- Along with the gift card, consider adding a little something extra to make it more personal -- homemade cookies, banana bread, or some other treat they'd appreciate should do the trick.
- When giving a gift card, consider the way you present it to the recipient. The wrapping also gives an impression of the gift. Consider alternative wrapping than just an envelope. Many stores now have gift tins, stuffed animals, and gift boxes just for gift cards. Giftypedia's Giving Money also has some creative wrapping ideas when giving a gift card.
- There are also some downfalls of gift cards. Be sure to research the conditions of the gift card and the recipients interest so that you can make an informed decision on the type of gift card and if it would be the best gift idea.
- Pitfalls of the Gift Card
- Giving Money
- Tipping Etiquette
- Giving Gift Cards as Shower Gifts
- Frugal Gifts for Frugal People