Friday, December 28, 2007
Speaking of gift cards (See the previous post), I guess we've all heard by now that Consumer Reports suggests that gift cards do not make the best presents. The thinking is that many people never use their gift cards. Businesses actually count on selling far more gift cards than are actually redeemed. From the consumer's point of view, that's like walking into an establishment and handing money over for the fun of it, without receiving anything in return.
One other thing to consider with gift cards is that they must be chosen carefully, with the recipient's needs and likes in mind. Otherwise, a gift card can seem like an impersonal gift. The recipient may get the feeling that you just popped into one of those gift card kiosks and grabbed something, rather than taking the time to choose something especially for them.
Now, in our household, we do appreciate and use gift cards. This is especially true now that our children are grown, and we're long past the days of "Toys R Us".
Besides, dear hubby's and my personal budget and our children's budgets are such that any of us can always use a gift card. It would be foolish and ungrateful of us to toss one aside and never claim it.
We also have some elderly members of our family. They don't have much as much shopping stamina as they used to. and they aren't always up on things that teens and twenty-somethings like. We find that gift cards are an easy way for them to give something to the younger generations in our family.
Having said that, dear hubby's birthday is in January, and so we often end up with some larger Christmas gift cards and several birthday gift cards for smaller items at places we love -- such as Starbuck's or Cracker Barrel. We've found that we can forget the smaller cards, even though they are generally to some place that we greatly enjoy.
My husband figured out that we are better at redeeming these cards if we stick them in our wallets as if they were credit cards. That way, we always have them with us when we pop into one of our favorite establishment. At the cash register, we see the gift cards in our wallets, and we use them.
I know that some of our friends and extended family enjoy receiving gift cards, just as we do. Since I have a pretty good handle (I think) on the gift cards that our nearest and dearest would enjoy, I do sometimes give them as Christmas, birthday, baby, or wedding gifts.
So, I'm pretty much in favor of gift cards having their place in giving to our friends and family. If chosen thoughtfully, they can make some of the most useful presents. Still, I think it's wise to keep Consumer Reports' advice in mind. Before giving a gift card, we need to be sure that the recipient will actually enjoy and use the card.
What do you think? Do you like to receive and/or give gift cards or not?