Four Reasons a Gift Card Might Make the Right Christmas Present

christmasThere are some of us who are procrastinators when it comes to buying Christmas gifts. Some of it is due to tight schedules or absent-mindedness that often comes with the holiday season.

Others simply have trouble finding the appropriate gift for a friend or family member. After all, how do they know someone else isn’t getting the same gift?

Fortunately, a gift card is one of those presents you can get that’s easy to find and simple to pick up for anyone you know.

Gift cards have often received a bad reputation. I used to see them as one of those gifts you get for people as a polite way of saying “I really don’t know you well enough to find a real present.”

As I’ve gotten older, however, and have bought more presents for adults, I’ve come to see gift cards as a viable present. In some instances, it has advantages over other types of gifts.

1. It’s simple and easy

Unlike other presents, such as a new video game or electronic device, you don’t have to worry about it running out of stock. I’ve never run into trouble finding a gift card at the grocery store, and if you can’t find one there you can always go to the website for the specific card you’re looking for. Rather than have to drive out somewhere to find it in a crowded store or shopping mall, you can buy it from your desk at home.

You also don’t have to figure out the cost. It’s about as straightforward as you can get. If you’re looking for a $50 gift card, it’s going to cost $50 exactly.

2. There’s no hassle

Gift cards don’t require any fancy wrapping. A small bag, or an envelope which usually comes with the gift with the purchase, is all it takes. As a person who is nopt what you would call skilled in the art of gift wrapping, this allows us to bypass a somewhat tricky and annoying part of the process.

Also, you don’t have to be concerned about getting them the same gift as someone else. One year, three different people, myself being one of them, bought the same movie for a family member. Yes, it was a failure to communicate, but also could have been avoided we had just bought that person a gift card. And if you do happen to buy the same gift card as someone else, it only means the person gets to spend more money at the same place.

3. It allows you to get a gift for someone you don’t know well enough to buy a specific gift for

Gift cards make it possible for you to buy something for a relative you aren’t acquainted with sufficiently enough to get them a certain type of suit or dress, but you know where they love to shop enough to get them a gift card there. Rather than accidentally buy them the wrong thing, you’re able to fulfill the point of a gift – expressing your appreciation for someone – without having to take a shot in the dark, so to speak.

Additionally, this also helps when you know what they want, but don’t know all the exact details, such as the size of a television or the clothing, or even the version of a movie they are dying to watch on that TV.

Essentially, it’s a personalized way of handing someone else cash.

4. You still give the person freedom to choose how to use the gift

Gift cards work well with adults because, I’ve observed, their idiosyncrasies make them much harder to buy things for than children. Kids tend to be less attentive to finer details than adults, which makes it easier to figure out what they want and not have to know much else about it.

For example, my grandparents knew my brothers and I loved video games, so they bought us a Nintendo 64. They didn’t have to inquire whether we wanted that or a Sony Playstation. For an adult video gamer, however, you’d have to ask, and as we all know, there’s no better way to reveal what you’re going to get someone for Christmas than to ask them about it discreetly.

Gift cards have worked well with me personally when it comes to books. When I was a kid, my parents knew my literary tastes well enough to know what books to buy. But as I’ve gotten older, instead of buying the books specifically, I’ve receive gift cards to various bookstores where they know I can find those titles.

Adults also like the volition to get things for themselves. They can be extremely finicky, even when it comes to Christmas gifts.

Another problem you avoid using a gift card is you rarely have to worry about the person returning the gift because it doesn’t work, doesn’t fit, or isn’t what they wanted. Unless you’re absolutely certain, there is always the risk that it will get returned. This happens most often with clothes. As a kid, the common motto I heard when getting clothes was “Oh, if they don’t fit you can always return it.”

I do have to state, however, that gift cards aren’t a silver bullet or one-size-fits-all for everyone. They don’t work well with those who want little tiny gifts that appeal directly to their personalities and demonstrate how well you know them. Others aren’t as sentimental and are perfectly fine with a gift card.

Naturally, a little bit of research is in order before you decide to get one for someone.

photo by paparutzi