The practice of gift card giving for Christmas is highly debated, and from what I have seen in a lot of online forums, highly frowned upon as lacking in thought and effort. But I must confess, I am not one of those who frown upon gift cards for Christmas and actually like them. And I strongly believe that in the current economy, gift cards can be more of a blessing to many people than presents.
How Gift Cards Can Be a Blessing This Christmas
Many of us are worried about not having enough money for living expenses in the coming months and possibly years. A gift card to a useful store or a Visa or American Express gift card that can be used to purchase groceries and other necessities could be more helpful than say an Xbox or iPhone.
Multiple Gift Cards Into One Big Gift
Even in times without economic crisis, I don’t believe there is anything wrong with giving or receiving gift cards. Despite the common belief that gift cards are an easy way out and show a lack of thoughtfulness, I think that in a way, they can show thought.
For example, say a family wants or needs a new television (or computer or washing machine if you prefer the more practical) and their friends and relatives know about this. Instead of each person giving a gift, they could all give gift cards that can be pooled together and applied toward the purchase of the big item they really want or need.
This can be for things practical or non-practical. But the end result would be the recipient being better able to afford something more expensive they could otherwise afford on their own.
Why Not Just Give Cash?
While gift cards are almost the same as giving cash, they are a little more subtle and a step closer to the gift category. Giving cash for Christmas may feel a little blunt, and maybe even crude to some people. And while a gift card is just cash in another form, the name and implications are a little more gift-like. With a gift card, the recipient has a choice in regards to what their gift will be – be it food, clothes or a luxury.
Examples of Gift Cards That Can Be Helpful During Economic Crisis
Visa or American Express Gift Cards
These can be used to buy necessities such as groceries or household necessities anywhere Visa or Amex are accepted. They can be used in store, online and by phone, but be sure to include the accompanying instructions. I would recommend going with Visa as they are more widely accepted than Amex.
If you wish to add a personal touch to your gift card, GiftCards.com lets you design your own cards with custom images.
Amazon Gift Certificates or Cards
Amazon.com has a huge selection of merchandise including dry groceries, personal care items, household supplies, clothing, furniture and home improvement. An Amazon.com Gift Card or Gift Certificate can be used to buy anything through the Amazon website including those from the Marketplace (fulfilled by merchants other than Amazon).
Department Store Gift Cards
Department Store Gift Cards such as the Target Candy Cane Zebra Gift Card pictured below could be helpful to families with children who need to buy things like school clothes and shoes, as well as things for the house.
Thoughtful Gift Cards
If you want to show that you do put thought and effort in the giving of a gift card, purchase one from a store or type of store that sells niche items for your recipient’s personal interests or hobbies. Many stores these days sell gift cards – it’s no longer just the big department stores:
- Toys and Games
- Music or iTunes
- Home improvement
- Specialty and niche stores
Of course, if you’re just not comfortable with giving gift cards, there is nothing wrong with a traditional gift. After all, the Christmas tradition is one of luxury, and gifts should be luxuries. Only this year, and every year until the current economic crisis is past, I believe gift cards might be more well received than in previous years.