another smockservation: when cash says you care

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please note: over the past few weeks, i took a random and very non-scientific poll and found that wee ones and tween ones actually desired gift cards because spending them makes them feel "grown up." teenagers opted for the freedom that comes from cash gifts and adults tended to prefer actual gifts, unless the gift cards were redeemable at French bistros, book stores, or gas stations. that said, i offer the following smockgrinch moment.

the way i see it, iffin you aren't going to put any sincere thought into your gift giving why not just fork over the hard cold cash? i mean gift cards -- c'mon why bother?

just because retail chains are offering more creative and whimsical plastic cards for your hard earned green, doesn't mean that the "gift" is any more thoughtful. should we be flattered that the card giver put thought into the design of the card itself? if it took twenty minutes to decide between the gift card with dancing peppermint sticks and the one with the prancing elves, wouldn't that time have been better spent buying an actual gift?

to add insult to injury, by giving a gift card over cash, you are limiting the poor recipient's shopping choices to boot because they cannot spend that $15 widgets gift card at gadgets which is the only store that sells the blasted gizmo they really wanted anyway. and as far as i know, a gift card is one of the few gifts that actually loses face value with time. and here's another kick in the pants. many retailers actually count on gift cards expiring, getting lost or otherwise going unused. and no matter how big i am on profit, as a consumer that notion just chaps my hide.

when you give gift cards over cash all you're really doing is admitting to the fact that you have no gift giving imagination, that the recipient isn't worth your time and effort, and that you do not in fact care enough to send the very best. so if you really want to show how much you care, please send cash.


I love my starbucks gift card from MIL. An excuse to buy expensive drinks ?! Yay! Moms need that sometimes. (I say drinks cause I don't drink coffee, just tea). In fact, I may run over there now, the baby just went to sleep and she should be good for a couple of hours. Hmmm...

When wanting to buy clothing for a teenager whose size is not easily known, a gift card for a suitable store is not such a bad idea. It certainly is easier than packing up the items with gift receipts and braving the crowds on Boxing Day.
It is also much easier to mail a gift card 3000 miles than to package and ship the equivalent gifts.
I still prefer to give actual physical gifts where possible, but I don't agree with your blanket condemnation of the concept.
Maybe I am sensitive on this because I ended up giving the youngest child a gift card to a specific store this year - it is a specialty store that carries several items that she asked for (supplies for a winter camping trip). She asked for much more than I could possible budget/afford, so giving her a gift card will force her to prioritize and plan - and will keep me within the budget I originally had. But I did wrap the gift card in a box and put in under the tree!

Actually, I rather like them, because when I get money, even for me, I tend to spend it on my kids. But there's nothing for the kiddos at Starbucks or the yarn store...really, when given thoughtfully I think they can force the recipient to indulge themself. I still do prefer actual gifts that require thought, but gift cards *can* be the result of a bit of thought too.

You mean some people still give plastic cards? Why go to all that trouble?

Cash gifts mysteriously drain from my wallet, but gift cards, oh how I love gift cards!! Rather than a cashmere sweater (for the fourth year in a row, no less) that doesn't fit, is a weird color, and must be dry-cleaned every time it's worn because a child deposits something sticky or smelly on me, I would be thrilled with a gift Target, to Amazon, to Borders, to almost anywhere! A gift card to the expensive coffee shop from a friend who knows I have a weakness for those frozen, chocolately, coffee drinks but hate spending the money for...that is thoughtful enough for me. Sorry, I just don't agree with you on this one, Smockmama!

I agree, to a beef is adults exchanging gift cards with each other. To me, it's no different than exchanging cash. At which point, it's time to say, "Let's just give to the kids next year."

I gave gift cards to everyone this year, and no one gave it back. in fact, everyone was thrilled. Cash has a mysterious way of falling out of the wallet. My favorite gifts that I received were gift cards as well. They are also much easier to ship than a box of gifts, including the receipt for exchange.

I'd much rather get a gift card than nothing. I'm sorry gift cards hurt your feelings, but I don't agree with you at all.

Well I see both sides here. I like to recieve gift cards, but I don't like to give them. As a giver I see them as a cop out, like I have failed to get to know the recipient well enough to pick out a good gift. But I sure do like to get them! If is is given as cold hard cash, it is true I would use it for practical things like bills or fast food (heh), but a dedicated gift card somewhat assures I will get something more along the lines of an actual gift.

I did one for my SIL, but to the yarn store she loves, and I have no clue what project she has in mind next, so I couldn't buy her the yarn.... I see your point, and the others too.

I sometimes have a hard time spending on myself, even with a gift card.

And bookstores are the hardest, I'm a huge library user, it takes a lot for me to invest in a book with a purchase, vs. a 'rental'.... don't want to spend $$ on fluff, ya know!

Hope y'all had a Merry Christmas, though!

Ok, Micki, where's the cash you promised to send me for Christmas?

I'm reminded of something said by the late Mitch Hedburg:

"I hate gift cards, because you're taking money that was once good everywhere, and ..."

I'm with MamaT on this one, especially in regards to shipping. My entire family lives out of town, so shipping ends up being more than the actual gifts; it's ridiculous! Also, having just had a baby, I needed to keep it simple.

Plus, when someone gives me cash, while I always promise to spend it on a gift for myself, it inevitable ends up being used for groceries or gas. It is just too tempting a thing to do.

And I am pretty sure it is now illegal to put expiration dates on gift cards or certificates. Isn't it?

they don't put "expiratin dates" on gift cards, per se; rather, the cards accrue "fees of non-use" after a certain period of time so that a $10 gift card may be worth $6 or $7 by the time you get around to using it.



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This page contains a single entry by smockmomma published on December 26, 2005 9:14 PM.

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