Monday, December 18, 2006

Gift Cards

I just arrived home from a bit of Christmas shopping. One of the items in my bag is a gift card. Right. A gift card -- the all-around, one-purchase-fits-all piece of plastic. It's the present next door. Who wouldn't want that?

After baking a cake, I sat down to read my e-mail. Then I went to msn.com, where I saw the following article heading: Are Gift Cards Cheating? Immediately, two thoughts went through my mind:
  1. Man, what do they pay editors over there at Microsoft? Why didn't any of them catch that ill-usage of the English language? Gift cards are cheating, huh? On what?
  2. Are gift cards cheating? Or, to put it correctly, is giving gift cards cheating?

The author of the article makes some very good points. She basically equates giving a gift card to throwing money at someone. That's sort of true, I guess, except that a gift card might actually end up the person. But she's right . . . I'm cheating on my gift-giving. Had I started my holiday planning and shopping earlier, I might not have had to buy a gift card. She made a few other good points and left me feeling sufficiently guilty.

One of the points she made was that giving a gift card means that you didn't get to know someone. I began to go over this logic. If that statement was true, then giving a gift other than a gift card would mean that you took the time to know someone very well. But I think we all know how incorrect that statement is -- I mean, have you ever gotten a gift you didn't like? I know that last year, when I unwrapped that calendar of horses with some of the months missing, that the person who gave it to me didn't know me very well. In that situation, a gift card would've been a lot more meaningful.

And it's not like people buy gift cards from The Gift Card Store. I think there is some thought that goes into picking which store you get the card from. The card I bought today, for example, is a gift card to be used in a book store. I know this person loves reading, but how can I possibly know what she wants to read? I could ask her, but then she'll know what she's getting for Christmas. Or I could just buy a card that's worth more because I inevitably end up putting more money into the card than I would on one or two books. That way, when she sees the amount on the card, she'll think, "Cool. I get to spend all of this at this store! A store of books!" Or maybe I think a person will think that because when I get gift cards, I usually spend the money on necessities like toilet paper and shampoo and groceries. So a gift card to a specific store is nice because then I don't have the guilt of shopping there.

But now I'm talking about my own psyche, which is kind of weird, so I'll stop here. Just know that I don't think gift cards are thoughtless. I do like to give (and get) other things besides gift cards, but I don't think gift cards are tacky. They're not as immediately exciting to unwrap as, say, a digital camera, but they are useful. And I like useful.

So what say you, blog-readers? Do you think gift cards are thoughtless? And please, state your age because the author of the article wrote that according to a national survey by Coinstar, 82% of Americans under age 44 said they appreciated getting gift cards.


Thing I'm thankful for: online recipes.

5 Comments:

Anonymous ashley said...

Being the 24 year old that I am, I do not think gift cards are cheating at all. I agree with you that it takes thought to pick the store that you get that person the card to, and that you can't read people's minds. Some of my closest friends have gotten me gift cards to to places like Banana Republic, for example, and that has actually been on of my favorite gifts! I can't afford stuff there, so they helped me out a little! But they knew me well enough to know that!

So, I don't agree with the author at all. Gift cards are just as good as any other present!

11:39 PM  
Blogger Jacki said...

Jacki 22.

I think that a gift card is the best gift EVER!! I really do. In fact, a gift card is my favorite gift. I think it says "I know you so well that I am going to give you something you really want... some money to one of your favorite stores."

This is great!!! Gift cards forever!

BTW Journalists are a different type of writer. Believe it or not, they would rather have a sentence be short and straight to the point, over being grammatically correct. Crazy I know.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

But that's kinda my point -- I don't like how journalists write. I think journalists would do better to major in English and take some journalism courses. Just because a sentence is short doesn't mean it's straight to the point. Take that article title, for example. The title would've been very clear had it been something like "Is Giving Gift Cards Cheating?" Anything so that the noun "card" isn't doing the cheating.

And see? I only added 5 letters.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Lexia said...

Being the somewhat picky person I am when it comes to receiving gifts, I would rather be able to have the plastic cash to pick out my own present. Also, if you get a gift certificate from Target, then I/you can buy toilet paper, soap, shampoo, and all in the brands that I/you normally use. People don't like giving those kinds of gifts, but I personally would really like receiving them. New York's expensive, folks, and I would prefer to have toilet paper to that of a teddy bear. Unless you're Sara and then you know what I really want but don't need: Thomas Paul melamine plates. Uh-hem. 26.

12:09 PM  
Blogger Yvonne said...

I'm 25, well at least for a little bit longer...

I like gift cards A LOT, especially for bookstores. I'm a poor student and I already own and have read an awful lot of books. And I love to have a reason to spend a couple of hours in a bookstore, find something I really want and not have to feel guilty for getting it. LOVE IT!

8:41 AM  

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