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In Defense of "Impersonal" Gifts
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 9:22 pm    Post subject: In Defense of "Impersonal" Gifts Reply with quote

"Gift Cards Are Not Gifts"

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/SavingandDebt/FindDealsOnline/GiftCardsAreNotGifts.aspx

The above link is an article telling us that gift cards (gift certificates/cash) are "lame".
Lame, impersonal, almost rude. Do you agree? I don't agree!
I can't think of anything more delightful than someone walking up to me and handing me a $20 bill--and it just gets better if it's $50 or $100 or...
I don't see a problem--
THE most valuable thing in the world is time--
X spends her time earning money--
X now (without anything in-between) hands that money directly to Z.
This is not generous, or loving, or thoughtful??

Gift receivers, do you really want your loved one to hassle/wait in line/spend MORE of their precious time on your gift?

Of course many gift givers, (this includes me--OMG I adore ribbon) also love making/baking/ searching for the perfect gift. This is purely a defense of gift cards, a perfectly wonderful adequate alternate, yes?
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2007 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it depends on the giver and receiver. At a certain age children love to receive money or vouchers to spend as they wish. Those same children put a lot of thought into what to buy and then spend hours looking for the right gift for Nanna/Grandpa or Mum/Dad . I think it would be nice if grandparents and parents did the same. So maybe a little gift and some cash or vouchers would be an idea. I always choose a gift for friends and get great pleasure from finding something they love. However I don't work outside the home and I have the time. Perhaps if I worked I would feel differently.
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msue



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've received cash, gift cards, and even subscriptions from family members. The givers were often people who needed, for health purposes, to limit their time shopping in stores, standing in lines, etc. They were able to gift me with something that I enjoyed without unnecessary stress. It was fun to show them how I'd used the cash or gift card on the next visit.

Contrast this with a well-to-do man I know who abdicated gift giving responsibilities to his latest wife. The new wife, fiercely envious of any attention shown to anyone but herself, chose Walmart gift cards for her husband's grandchildren, who were about 10 -13 years old. She plainly marked the cards with $30, $35, etc. (yep - children within the same family were given different amounts). My friend took her kids to Walmart to use their cards. They learned when checking out that the cards only had $5 or so per card - not the higher amount she had written. There are a lot of possible explanations, but none of them are too flattering for the wife. She's also given freebies - like free t-shirts, gimme caps, etc.

It isn't the gift itself that matters, it is the spirit in which it is given.
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kjgibson



Joined: 15 Nov 2006
Posts: 35
Location: El Granada, CA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have for years had mixed feelings about gift cards. We send them but I usually feel a bit of a slacker for it.

Our nieces live on the opposite coast from us -- we are in California, they are in New England. They were small children when we moved. And as they grew up we were just too far away to know their tastes and interests. So we started sending gift cards. But it made me feel like I wasn't trying hard enough. So one year, to personalize it, we sent the cards, but with a handmade card and game we dubbed the Olde Yankee Gift Swappe!

I got 6 sachets, labeled #1 - #6. Each niece took a sachet. The numbers determined the order for a White Elephant swap. It's game where a person selects & opens a gift. Then next person may either select a new gift or take a gift from some one before her. It goes around and then #1 gets a chance to take from someone else (since #1 is the only person who never could take from anyone else.)

We chose gift cards to all their favorite stores and had the other aunts run the game. Heard there was a squabble among the aunts over rules but the nieces behaved well and everyone had fun. It made me feel like we were there, at least in spirit. We were always the eccentric aunt & uncle -- the ones who chose the cool gifts! -- so a wacky game wasn't really out of character for us anyway.

Cheers,
Karen
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georgia



Joined: 16 May 2006
Posts: 456
Location: california

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with Barbara...depends on the people involved and the circumstances. These days, my brother and I are both fortunate to need nearly nothing, but we still like to remember each other's birthdays in some small way. We're both avid readers, and while I occasionally will actually buy a special book for him, I really can't know what he already has or what he would like to read next. So...in effect, we've been exchanging the same Amazon gift certificate for years! But that's fine between us, and that's the point.

We've got a young man (aged 13) in our extended family. He's a great kid, but I can't pretend to really know his passions. When I asked his mother for some Christmas gift ideas, she suggested a gift card to "iTunes" so that he could download his favorite music to his iPod. I think that's a genius idea and I never would have thought of it myself -- and there's no way I could "buy" it for him and wrap it up!

And msue, I hope your friend gave her father's new wife a "generous" gift card to Walmart for her next birthday. Or maybe to the Dollar Store.
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madameshawshank



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For almost 20 years..a group of us...6 dames ...great great friendships...birthday celebrations have evolved...we decided that at the end of each year we draw names from a hat...you are responsible for that person's day...the cake, the card, the gift...we are all on various stages of the money tree...we agreed $60 suits all....originally the one 'in charge' would select a gift..until one year, the gardener (who had moved house) asked if she could have some roses ....oh yes we said...from then on it became 'a surprise or the money'...it varies from year to year with some...with others (like my dear self)...the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ you should see what I can do with funds Wink I know it sort of looks crass..however...

eg...my son and his partner gave me a jacket for last birthday...am not sure if it would EVER have fitted me Very Happy ...lovely jacket...simply a tad small...yep..docket saved..could be returned...a department store in Sydney...my golly thought I ...as I looked at the return slip...I asked if it would be ok to spend it on something other that clothing...'yep, that's fine'....two fabulous pans (on very big special), "Autumn in Piemonte" by Manuela Darling-Gansser (30% off all books that day!) PLUS the soundtrack to 'Callas'.....

I'm in charge of a birthday this coming Wednesday...'twill be a cash thing..(the birthday gal ~ one of the six~ has just had a massive clear out...simple pared down...methinks she'll use the funds for other than things...perhaps towards a theatre ticket ...)wrapped beautifully...roses are out...as for the cake..do you know 'mortal sin cake'? there's a coffee chain here that sells it...richer that Bill Gates....bottom layer of cheesecake, next chocolate mousse, caramel frosting...I'm going to give it a go...

the cake I'll bake after the mortal sin one is ...hazelnut and bitter chocolate cake from the Piemonte book...highly recommended...

chocolate-coated hugs as gifts for you this day!
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bluedog



Joined: 03 Aug 2005
Posts: 135
Location: Seattle, WA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree it depends on the giver/receiver. I feel it is a bit of a cop out, but do gift cards for my 'tween nieces who live 2500 miles away. It makes them happy, and that is the point of gift giving, right?

However, I hate that my husband's siblings do so between each other. We draw names, amongst the 4 brothers and and wives, and have a $50 limit. At present, a string of gift cards is mailed about. If that is all the thought is worth, we could just stand in a circle and pass the same $50 bill around. Why bother? Similarly, my brother in-law wrote a check to my 4 year old. At 4, you could wrap up ANYTHING and he would be happy. He didn't even know what a check was, so he gave it back to his uncle and said you left your bills in my card.

And yet back to the otherhand, I really wish my mother-in-law would stop buying me silly sweaters never to be worn, and just give me a gift card! I would prefer an actual gift of thought, (and I am so easy - cookbooks, utensils, anything!) but since she is incapable, at least I could put it to good use, instead of feigning joy. and it seems so wasteful in the end!
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madameshawshank



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bluedog..that's the trick in gift giving...to step out of one's shoes and imagine being the other...so it's not so much "What do I think so and so would like?"...more, "I will imagine BEING the other one..and then imagine what I (as the other one) would like."...as I said..tricky...

because one woman's meat is another's silly sweater Wink
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Rachel



Joined: 22 Oct 2006
Posts: 296
Location: Santa Barbara, CA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree with most of you - it really depends upon the person and situation, but I certainly don't out-and-out condemn gift cards/vouchers. I myself actually quite enjoy receiving them, since after all, the choice of gift card itself can be an indication of thoughtfulness on the part of the giver. (As an example, my stepdad usually gives me a voucher for a clothing shop he knows I like for my birthday - which is nice in that 1. it shows he has a general idea of what would please me and 2. I get to choose exactly what I like! Far more thoughtful than just giving a randomly chosen silly sweater... Wink )

However, I virtually never give gift cards (unless you count the homemade ones I give my mom for Mother's Day - she usually comes to visit me around then so I always send her a little card saying 'good for lunch/tea/ballet' so she has something to look forward to when she arrives). It's not that I think any of my friends or family would be offended if I did, I just happen to enjoy choosing something specific I know they'd like.


Last edited by Rachel on Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:12 am; edited 1 time in total
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madameshawshank



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rachel in London....your Ma'ma would very much look forward to her visits I imagine...

good for ballet...every time methinks
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Griffin



Joined: 09 Jun 2006
Posts: 932
Location: England

PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mum used to give me book tokens on the principle that I had to have the rest of the money to buy any books I wanted. This was when I was building up a collection of art books that were pretty expensive. So I had to save up a certain amount and the tokens would fill in the gap.

I do like those gift cards it means you are not being given something you might not like by someone who may not know you as well as you do!
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Thu Dec 13, 2007 4:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am on the fence about this subject. Normally I would rail against them, but this December has taughht me something different. I am that person who is looking out for the perfect gift six months ahead of time, not this year. This year a blizzard of chaos has descended on me and so I have turned to gift cards. I did not just head to Best Buy and snap up the same one for everyone though. For my sister and brother in-law a gift certificate to The Dahlia Lounge, (a Tom Douglas resto), my parents are getting one to The Brooklyn Cafe. My big bro is the only one getting a real gift, unless you count the chocolates and coffee samplers I bought to use as hostess gifts, for the postal woman and trash pick-up men.

I guess the trick is to think about it a bit first and make sure it won't sit in a drawer till next year.
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madameshawshank



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

what a sweet and thoughtful soul you are erin!

our son is travelling to England next year with his gorgous English partner ..'twill be his first trip there...

they hope to visit The Fat Duck....so methinks some cold hard cash might come in handy Wink ...

he's a chef, she's a sommelier....

I'm going to make the bestest duck pate that I can possibly make to include with the $$$$$s
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why thank you Madame!
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Judy



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 1196
Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Sat Dec 22, 2007 11:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've spent most of the past month wrapping, packing and posting new books to people. A few very clever people have found my website from the other side of the world, mostly from the UK, bought a book and had me giftwrap it and send it to a relative in Australia. Much cheaper than posting almost anything from the UK.

Others have bought books, and I have then giftwrapped them and sent them to the buyers who will give them as gifts at Christmas. It has surprised me that I'm the one doing the wrapping, I guess it's 'cos they don't have the time.

I have also sent a lot of books to the US which Santa Claus will be placing under the Christmas tree.

Every time I pack a parcel, I think of how someone will get this book (or books) as a present, and hope they love it.
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