adrian is rad


last minute gift recommendation: don’t get gift cards

Filed under: — adrian @ 10:32 am

(You can find some more gift ideas/ philosphy over at Colin’s blog.)

Gift cards are really easy. They also show something slightly more personal than cash or a check. They say “I know you enough to know that you might enjoy something from Best Buy[1] but I don’t know you well enough to actually pick something.”

Here’s the thing: gift cards tie your money up in plastic that is non-transferable and often expires. You are basically guaranteeing that some of your money will wasted or that the receiver will have to spend some of their own money to get full use out of it.

My recommendations:

  • ask the person what they actually want
  • cash

[1] And if you are being a total hippie about it, gift cards usually requires the person to patronize a large corporate retailer, which the receiver may not wish to do.

6 Responses to “last minute gift recommendation: don’t get gift cards”

  1. libs Says:

    I think that if you were going to be a total hippie you would just donate to a good charity and skip the material goods all together.

  2. Colin Says:

    Good points.

    While gift cards do have many annoying features, one way that gift cards are slightly better than cash is that they can’t go in your back account. Thus, when you use them to buy something, you recall that what you’re buying is gift. Many times when I have gotten cash in the past, it just went into my bank account, never to be seen or thought of again. Having a few extra dollars in my bank account is nice, but it doesn’t make me feel good the way getting a good gift – or even buying something nice with gift money – does. If your recipient isn’t cheap like me and will go out and spend the cash immediately, then by all means, give cash. However, if your recipient has a tendency to tuck money away for a rainy day, getting him or her a gift card might be a better way to ensure that the person actually gets a gift rather than just a fatter bank account statement.

    Of course, there’s always the old-fashioned route of risking rejection and disappointment by picking an actual gift yourself. Who knows, you might get something that the person will really like but never would have thought of asking for. This has happened to me on a number of occasions. Of course, if the person doesn’t like it, he or she can return it and will most likely get in return – you guessed it – a gift card.

  3. andy (not andyl) Says:

    1. A New Yorker Piece about Xmas gift buying. Basically, we suck at it.

    2. I’m exceedingly thankful that my family has decided to do a non-gift giving christmas this year. We decided that we all have enough crap, and none of us need to spend money. I’m bending the rules a little bit, by getting my dad a gift subscription to a popular DVD rental service, and getting my mother a high-quality print of a picture from her childhood. Both of these things I planned on getting my parents anyway – this is just a convienent time.

    3. Basically, I hate this Christmastime giving. I think it’s a sham that has stuck in the national conciousness, like giving diamonds for engagements.

  4. andy (not andyl) Says:

    Oh, and buttons. Adrian’s getting 1″ buttons. Maybe a dozen of them? I’m not sure yet, I haven’t made them.

  5. adrian Says:

    Buttons which I asked for and would have asked for anyway. Again it’s just a convenient time.

  6. Colin Says:

    I hear Christmastime is a great time for giving black hoodies with the word “Yinzer” silk-screened on the front. I don’t remember who told me that…

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