As Christmas has come and gone, there are a lot of opinions out there about gift cards and if they are really gifts. Some like them, some hate them, some think it is an impersonal gift cop-out, some would rather cash instead.
Well, I like them. That’s not earth shattering news by any means but I thought I’d share my perspective and why I feel the way I do. A gift card, to me, can be a very thoughtful gift, and in fact, a very special and personal kind of gift. When I am given a gift card, I really do feel like the purchaser picked it out with me specifically in mind, and this Christmas specifically illustrates why. Four words: I love to shop.
For Christmas this year, I received several generous gifts, as well as two gift cards and two gifts of cash. The cash I received was applied directly to debt as soon as I got home, and I am very grateful that I was given the cash gifts to be able to do this. It wasn’t exactly… fun though, just me being a responsible adult. Which is indeed important but at the same time, it is nice to have a little bit of fun. The gift cards can’t be applied to debt so directly, and although I greatly preferred this year $500 in cash vs $500 in gift cards to use on debt, I am also very happy with my two smaller gift cards.
I received a $50 gift card to Target and a $20 gift card to Bath and Body Works. These are two of my very favorite stores, and to me that shows the gifter was considering me and my tastes when they picked them. By giving me gift cards, the gifter is forcing me to buy something for me instead of use the money “responsibly” to pay down debt. And honestly, I thank them. Life isn’t all work and no play, after all.
That being said, the Target card will be used semi-responsibly. I am combining it with a $10 gift card I earned through My Points, and I will be purchasing some storage solutions for our house with it. If I have some left over, I may shop the clearance deals for picture frames or some outfits for the kids. We’ll see. They are not things we desperately need, but my spouse (and I!) will appreciate the upgrade from the cardboard diaper boxes currently storing the kids VCR tape and DVD collection under our TV. I might even have enough for a toy bin in the playroom or another bookcase for my son’s room. I may be using it for the greater good of improving our home, but it still is shopping I get to do that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
The Bath and Body Works card is my indulgence. I get to go to their big annual clearance sale this month now and shop all the great deals on discontinued scents this year, and I cannot wait. I am so grateful that I was given a gift card there, because otherwise I would not go at all. It isn’t a need, it is a want, but a fun want and a great present to myself. And not only shopping, I get to do some bargain hunting!
In essence, when someone gives me a gift card, they are giving me the gift of shopping. And since I do so very little shopping these days that isn’t a strict necessity, the gift of shopping is an excellent gift for me indeed. Yes, a gift card to a place I’ve never heard of and never shop at isn’t the greatest of gifts, but neither is a random gift given to me that I have no use for. When the gift card is obviously chosen with my likes and tastes in mind, it is as good a gift as any I receive. Because the ability to shop guilt-free is a very big gift for me right now.