It's a gifty time of year. Less than a week before Christmas, knee deep in Hanukkah, my birthday is in about 2 weeks. My dad's birthday was last week as was my mother-in-law's birthday. It's really gifty for my family right now. I'd like to speak up in favor of the much looked-down-upon gift card.
I get why the gift card gets a bad wrap (get it?). They are considered "impersonal" and "lazy". I guess it's not as "personal" as monogrammed towels, a new laptop for a blogger whose computer was spat into by a preschooler, or a handknit scarf in the colors of that person's Hogwarts House. But honestly, how personal and caring is it to just get something for someone when you honestly don't know what they want or need?
I know I'm not alone in not knowing what people want or need. I love all my siblings, but I don't know whether my brother would appreciate cashmere socks or whether my sister wants a new Trollbead or something. And there are truly people in my gift list who have everything they need, and it pains me year after year to think up something they don't already have. It makes me dislike gift giving and that's not really in the spirit of the season.
There are gift cards for every conceivable store, restaurant, website, and even generic Visa/Amex gift cards. It can be a *personal* gift. Get your crafty sister a card for Joann/Michaels. Get your reading mom a card for Amazon or Barnes & Noble. If you have a dear friend who has just lost weight, a card to their favorite clothing store might be really appreciated. A gift to a favorite restaurant can give new parents an easy excuse for a date night. And those Visa/Amex cards are a blessing to those whose budgets are extra tight for any reason (students, job changes, new homes).
Honestly, I can't think of a time when I've received a gift card and thought, "Gee that wasn't very nice". Actually I *love* gift cards. I love shopping, I love picking something out for myself without the guilt of paying retail or feeling like something is a little frivolous.
So if you give a gift card - trust me, it's not lazy or impersonal. It can be just the right thing. And if you get a gift card - trust me, you will enjoy it.