Gift Mistakes: Please don’t give a gift card

There is really only one scenario where I think it’s a good idea to give a gift card – and that involves gifts for coworkers you don’t have much a relationships with and where you want to keep things simple.  In that case, a $25 starbucks card or AMC movie card isn’t a horrible gift.

But in most other cases, gift cards signal that you prefer not to put too much thought or energy into finding a gift for your friend or family member.

What also makes gift cards a particularly terrible gift is the constraints they attach onto the gift.  When you give someone a gift card, you are essentially giving them cash. Only, it’s not cash, it’s cash with rules.

So instead of being able to spend the money on something that I’d like, I have to spend at a very specific venue, and I have to use this card.  And chances are, I’ll forget about that card or only use a portion of it.  So, in the end the retailer wins big. Not only do they collect your money before they even sell you anything, but there’s a good chance they never will sell you $25 worth of stuff, ever.

There’s a reason gift cards are everywhere – and it’s because it’s a huge business and a huge moneymaker for stores.

Do you like getting gifts cards? I have a stack of 5-6 sitting on my dresser, and it’s almost a hassle to think about how I have to use them.  I live in the city, with thousands of great restaurants around me, when am I going to go to the Olive Garden?  The $100 spa voucher was really nice.  But rather than just sending me a boring piece of paper which I almost mistook for a coupon, next time, take the 10 extra minutes and call my girlfriend for my schedule and just book me a time so I don’t have to think about it.  Those extra gestures go so far!

So, next time, please try and avoid giving a gift card.  Why not give a gift that is meaningful, useful, or fun? Something that your friends will remember.  We think we can help you find that gift…