I'm old with you. I despise getting/giving gift cards unless I know I am contributing to a larger gift.
I take it the boys are not getting giftcards this season? :)
Boys are getting entirely too much this season. As usual. :/ I just can't seem to help myself! I don't buy them *anything* all year long, so I splurge at the holidays. They're spoiled. I admit it.
The writer Anne Fadiman wrote this great book about books, reading and writing and there was this one essay I loved that talked about used books and how her husband took her on a sort of mystery trip one day on the train to this used book shop in some small town outside of New York and how he essentially let her go wild and buy all sorts of things and then paid the bill. I think they came home with like fifty pounds of books or something. I have always thought that was a truly original and loving gift. I have made noises to Mr. Jenner that is the sort of thing I would like one year for my birthday. Take me to Elliott Bay Books and maybe a few other indie/used book shops and let me have a field day.
That is an amazing gift idea! I love it.
My Mom is taking me snorkelling in Belize for my birthday gift. I can't imagine a better one. Then again, my Grandma got me this beautiful silver necklace jinglebell one year that sounded amazingly calming. It was one of the gifts I treasured the most. Sadly, it was stolen from my condo during the breakin, but I'll always remember that. I love personal things.
my mom used to give me a card that said "this is worth a day of shopping and lunch with your Mama"
I loved it. It was always the best present cuz of the time we'd spend together.
I get it, then again, I'm older than you! LOL
I love that too! My Mom is an amazing gift giver, and it's not just about the money.
Well, I'm much older than you, so may I offer you my P.O.V. on gift cards?
I love them for several reasons. For instance there is the Starbucks gc that Tommy has given me annually for three years now. The first year he gave it to me he explained that he wished we lived close enough to one another that he could take me to Starbucks every morning and buy me a coffee, because he knows how much I like their coffee. Since he has no way to be there in person to do that, he gave me a gc so that he's still the one doing it, just absentee. And I think of him every single time I use it. That's not at all a lack of sentiment or love or thoughtfulness... in fact, quite the opposite.
Another reason I love gcs is that I've been really poor, a lot. The first year that he got me the gc I was at the point of pretty much having to give up Starbucks. I was taking care of Kim and sometimes there was barely enough money to buy her meds. A five dollar latte or a two dollar cup of dark roast were really not realistic budget items, no matter how much I enjoyed them or how they could pick up my spirits. My gc allowed me to still have that very soothing luxury without feeling guilty. Again, thoughtful, so very meaningful to me.
Finally, there are times when I just think they make a little more sense. Like I know X and I know X loves to read. She'd probably love to have a new book for Christmas. However, no matter how well I know X, I have not memorized the contents of her library, let alone any books she may have borrowed and read. I don't want to give her something she's already read, and I don't want to ruin the surprise that I want to honor her love of reading by quizzing her. A gift card to a bookstore I know she likes says, "I want to give you a book for Christmas, but I don't know what you already have, so allow me, through this gc, to give you a book you don't already have." It's not that I don't trust my taste or think that X doesn't, nor is that I don't care enough to figure out a specific book; it's that this seems like the most thoughtful and sensible option to me.
Oh, there's also the circumstance of knowing that someone would really enjoy a particular thing, and I'd love to help her acquire it, but the full price is out of my budget. But what I can do is give her a gc for the place where she can acquire it, a gc that can cover a portion of the price so it's more affordable for her. My Kim LOVED to watch tv, and she was really wanting a bigger tv than she had. For a couple of years on every gift giving occasion most people got her gcs for a particular store. Finally she had enough accumulation to add some money of her own and get her tv. She never, ever forgot that her friends helped her get it. It meant a lot to her that they did that, and that she could enjoy the shows she loved to watch on the bigger screen.
I love giving gifts, so I have no compulsion at all to take an easy or lazy way out. I love it when I can find something perfect and beautiful, something that practically shouts at me, "I should belong to so and so! Take me to that person, please!" But that's not always possible, ime.
I've been really poor, a lot.
Ok, but a gift can't really SOLVE that problem, you know? Besides, in that case I'd rather just give cash so the person can use it how they need it most. I've been very poor too. In fact, last pay period I seriously did have only $28 in the bank, which is better than the -$hundreds many people have, but I don't have a ton of money for extra stuff at the moment either.
I also understand that they are for more practical than spending the money to ship heavier things across states and that it's less hassle for the person receiving them.
Also, I've identified why I don't like being forced to give them, so here it is:
I really like having a reason to give gifts. It delights me. That's why I'm pissed off at having my joy robbed from me in recent years because people don't care. They don't even care if they never see anything WRAPPED. "just give me the money". Whatever. They steal the magic, lights, and joy out of the holiday and I don't appreciate it. I mean, how EXCITED and surprised are people at a giftcard they asked for? Not. That's why I feel it's a downer of a gift.
While they can be justified, I think they are overall not a good gift. The circumstances you mention here do make sense, and I'll always get my stepdad starbucks cards because he enjoys it and will forgo coffee if he doesn't have the money on him, so it does make a good gift for him, but I'd prefer if there were other things he would enjoy.
Edited at 2008-12-04 09:10 pm (UTC)
You are correct: a gc cannot make one not poor. But it can provide a moment of relief sometimes, like a chance to finally take a deep breath when you've been rushing, rushing, rushing trying to keep the barbarians from the door. It can also provide a much appreciated "luxury", as you've provided for your stepdad. Like him (and I suppose like many people), I have and will forgo something I love but know I don't need. Having someone basically say, "Here, I want to make sure you can still have that, at least once in a while" can really lift my spirits.
I totally identify with your liking to give gifts. Sometimes I think I'm more excited than the recipient is when a gift is being opened! It didn't occur to me earlier when I was responding to your post, but I actually have a way to resolve that, at least a little. Of course just because it works for me it won't necessarily work for anyone else. The thing is that I rarely give a gc in "just" an envelope or whatever gc holder the store provided. I usually try to find something related (though sometimes that doesn't work and I go in a different direction), like with a Starbucks card I might include a bag of their coffee or a special coffee cup. That can often get the more magical factor back into the occasion.
I would never argue that they are the ideal gift, and certainly I would never expect someone who really disliked it to give them. I think the giver ultimately has, and should have, discretion in what he/she chooses to give. It kind of reminds me of cigarettes as a gift... I hate smoking and the hold that it exerts on people, especially, it seems to me, on so many of the poorest people in society. But I have been known to give someone a carton of cigarettes as a thank you or whatever, because I know I'm giving him/her something they will really appreciate, that will often lessen the financial burden, and that my giving the person cigarettes is going to have zero impact on whether or not that person continues to smoke. I have known other people who would never, ever consider buying someone even a pack of cigarettes because, in their view, they are only encouraging the smoking. I don't agree that the smoking is encouraged, but I also would never try to argue such a person into purchasing cigarettes. If it causes that much discomfort it is not a good gift. A gift should, imo, be given with joy.
Some also say a gift should be something you don't feel obligated to give. That's why I don't really like Christmas.
I really like having a reason to give gifts. It delights me. That's why I'm pissed off at having my joy robbed from me in recent years because people don't care. They don't even care if they never see anything WRAPPED. "just give me the money". Whatever. They steal the magic, lights, and joy out of the holiday and I don't appreciate it.
I prefer to receive and give home made gifts. That way I KNOW the time that went into it is love and not obligation.
Himself and I do our gifting wherein there is one gift that the giftee has requested, and then other 'surprise' gifts to go with it.
I generally don't give gift cards, but I have sometimes gotten them -- mostly for DVDs and CDs, because I have some eclectic tastes in movies/music.
This is also why I have an Amazon wish list -- I can always direct people there.
I have endless Amazon wish lists for people. To me that is only slightly better than a giftcard, but oh well. I'll be doing that too. I suppose it's better than not having any idea what to get the person.
i like getting gift cards!
and i typically send gift cards to my many nephews and neices. that way they can pick out their own stuff and i dont have to worry about mailing it. besides, kids change their minds nonstop and who knows what toys santa will bring. i've tried to coordinate with the parents (my siblings) so i can get their kids toys that santa won't buy, but it's usually a big hassle.
i like getting gift cards because my husband and i are incredibly difficult to shop for. we have everything.
That makes you normal and in the majority. People like getting gift cards and giving them.
I just think it takes the joy and excitement out of the holidays and changes them into a silly exchange of money. *shrugs* I give up though. I can't fight the battle against them alone.
gift cards are practical to me.
and for me, gift cards are not at all about money. not even a tiny bit.
See, that's the thing. I don't want to give practical gifts. I want to give memorable and magical gifts. I am sad so few people want to receive them.
I don't care for gift cards much, unless they are a reward for a job well done at work or school, however, I ask for them when I want to get something big like my camera.. which know who helped me get it and every time I use it I think about all of them. :) But, I'm wicked sentimental too.
I do agree with you, but for the people I wanted to give, but they are far away and so I need to mail them stuff, I did get gift cards for places they could get treats, because it will cost me less than the cost of shipping, getting to the post office, and less worry/anxiety it'll actually get there.
I understand. I mean, I DID get you a gift card because it was for the camera, but I got you gushy stuff too so I didn't feel bad about it.
I guess I'm just too sentimental and that's why I get upset about just buying gift cards. My brother however is poor and wants and needs some stuff, so I give up on that one. I'll at least try to call him and give him some love on the actual day so it's less cold of a gift.
You didn't give me a gift card, you gave me a shiny, crisp $50 that I looked at over and over again before I deposited it in the bank to buy the camera. It was so pretty. I know that sounds weird, but it was more than just money, it was from you.
I was going to get the giftcard, but I didn't because you waffled a few times about where you were gonna get the camera, so I decided CASH it was.
It was actually good, because I got it on Amazon, but my mom bought the Target gift cards so it all worked out.
personally I am kinda "eh" about gift cards. For some people they are by FAR the prefered gift, and for those folk, I will sometimes go gift card. It depends on how hard they are to shop for really/ If I feel like I can get them a great gift without resorting to a GC, then I will go gift. If I feel like I'd be taking a stab in the dark tryuing to get something that they'd really appreciate anyway, then I go GC. *shrugs*
Personally, I always try to go gift though. It's so much more fun, personal, and in the spirit of the season I think. I am one of those people who literally shops ALL YEAR LONG for xmas, because sometimes you find the PREFECT xmas gift for so and so in March, you know? It preplexes me when I hear people say "Too bad her bdays past and xmas is months away, cause this would be the prefect gift for Mary!" .... BWAH? If it's the perfect gift for Mary, why not buy it now and stick it in a closet til then???
Of course, the the tricky part for someone like me is hanging on to them for months and not losing them...
I wish I had the memory to shop all year for people, but I tend to get excited and give them the prize early, which is bad for the budget. So fun!
I should try again now that I'm older and have room in my house to see if I can shop year round to build up a good stash of gifts for loved ones, partly because it would be easier with my pain problems to not have so much shopping right at the holiday.
I agree with you. I think gift cards are useful but that they sort of ruin the magic of finding and giving something personal for someone. I really love the shopping process of thinking about what someone might like and I really REALLY love it when they get all excited over something I gave them because it was perfect. That is the goal for me when I give gifts -- I want them to like it and enjoy it and maybe think of me when they see it and remember how I thought of them when I gave it to them.
That's exactly how I feel! I will do gift cards if I have to, but if I can think of anything else I prefer to do that.
I agree with you about gift cards taking away the magic. I love wrapping gifts and love the delight on my friend's faces when they see this beautiful parcel lovingly tied up with ribbon and bows. It isn't unheard of for me to use wire star garland in place of ribbon.
My friends usually get homemade gifts or gifts which foster their creativity, craft or search for knowledge. My niece is getting a fashion design kit and my nephew is getting a pop-up book on sharks. Gifts need thought.
Those sound like amazing homemade gifts! Lucky kids to get those. I'd love to see some photos of your wrapped gifts. Can you share them with us? Sounds great!
I fully agree..the only time I got someone a gift card was for a day of adventure...and they still have used it. My family all knows...no gift cards don't bother answering.
I would love a day of adventure! I made gift cards for Craig that were for tasks and fun stuff. He liked it! Craig is a guy, so he does like giftcards and stuff from his Amazon.com list.
2008-12-05 02:44 am (UTC)
THis is such crap
I'm SOOOO sick of hearing everybody whine about how much freaking money they JUST HAVE TO SPEND on the holidays!! NEWS flash, nobody is holding a freaking gun to your head, to spend the money! Just because it's Christmas, it seems everyone feels COMPELLED to go into piles of debt, buying CRAP THAT people don't freaking WANT OR NEED?!? If I need a god damn scented candle, I WILL GO BUY ONE!
I am not a x-mas grudge but come January when ya'all are crying your eyes out at your credit card bills, I'm going shopping to buy WHAT I NEED.
Just because it's Christmas, it seems everyone feels COMPELLED to go into piles of debt, buying CRAP THAT people don't freaking WANT OR NEED?!?
I'm going shopping to buy WHAT I NEED.
1. I'm not going into debt. Have a budget pre-planned.
2. Buying what you need? Umm. ok? What does that have to do with giving or the holiday?
2008-12-06 06:54 pm (UTC)
Re: THis is such crap
Hmmmm, don't recall you bitching about the cost of gifts, just the people who don't appreciate the personal thought behind the gift. I wonder if alycat has other issues...
I never know what to buy, but I make the effort and buy something. So even if the gift is all wrong, the actual gift is the time and effort I took to get it. And it's not about how much you spent either. For baby showers, I usually buy practical things like baby wash, shampoo, powder, and the like and use recieving blankets tied with curly ribbons as the "wrap". You want to buy me a gift, buy me a quirky coffee cup. Not expensive and it's something I'll use all the time and will think of you when I do. So, yeah, I get where you're coming from, and I also always shop with a budget.
I think gifts are gifts. For instance - my friend wants new make up and I know she just loves sephora but never goes in because she doesnt have any cash. So I got her a gift certificat e- giving her an excuse to go indulge and get the experience of buying something there. I mean, a giftcard CAN be personal. I would always be thankful for whatever gift I got and I dont judge how much "thought" went into something by the wrapping.... cause I cannot wrap. You wuold vomit girl, if you saw my wrapping.
*giggles* Well, I have to say I enjoyed my Sephora giftcard from Craig, but the part that means the MOST was him being willing to take me to use it. He can't wrap worth beans either.
I'm not a fan of G/C's. My husband gets them for his niece and nephew for birthdays, christmas, etc because we are so far away.. usually it's something for itunes since we got them both ipods last year.
the g/c's are always accompanied with a bigger gift... My brother Kenny.. i give him money because he's always broke and could use the money for groceries. He always really appreciates it and looks forward to his "after christmas feast" as he calls it hehe.
on the other hand tho, for those who are close to you whom you want to get something special, i think G/C's are tacky and lack thought of what that person likes. A good friend of mine got me a G/C for JCPennys last year. It was very thoughtful of her, but i thought that since she and i have known eachother for quite some time now she would know me a little better and be able to personalize a gift. She did follow it up w/a couple Diabetes magazine subscriptions for my birthday (right after Christmas).. and i was thankful for the G/C because i needed to go buy new work clothes, but still i felt a little like she didn't know me. This year she sent me a list of what she wants for Christmas.. i don't plan on following it and unless someone is in dire need that is my usual plan. I like to find things that people would like but wouldn't otherwise buy for themselves.
Another close friend of mine and I exchange hand made gifts.. she knits me something and i draw her a picture. To me, those are more meaningful... i think one year, Lanette you had made me a birthday card. It had lace and other fabric on it, i still have that because i think it's one of the coolest cards i've ever received. Those to me mean so much more..
That is so darn sweet! I love to make cards and prizes. I have so much fun doing it.
This rant I made is mostly because I was noticing overall how many people I got this year who don't want anything BUT giftcards. *sigh* I would rather do a giftcard than get them something they don't like, but if I can I'm going to do something else instead.
I prefer to give gifts, thought out gifts.
however, there are time people prefer them. I don't want more junk in their house or whatever their reasoning is.
Then I give them what they request along with sime like cookies or a card made by ster.
I have requested gc's. I really only wanted one thing. At the time it wasn't in my budget, and it definitely wasn't in anyone else's. I wanted a DSLR. People couldn't really get together and buy it together. It's so expensive. SO we requested that instead of gifts we would like a gift card towards the camera. $10 + each birthday/xmas for my and my hubby from everyone and we were able to buy it and an extra lens. It was a gift from everyone slowly built up.
You know, pooling money together for one gift I really like. I'll always contribute to that, I just give cash and specify what it's for.