I've learned to limit my new year's resolutions. Too many is daunting, and it's too much like work. This year one of my two resolutions is to give better gifts. In an evaluation of my gift giving this holiday season, I came to the conclusion that gift cards will make up the bulk of my gifts next year. It's what works best in our family, and everyone seems to appreciate them. However, they do have some problems.
The biggest problem I see with gift cards is that they cost me more than the option of a gift. I look bad if I give a $15 gift card to my sister-in-law, but I wouldn't look bad if I gave her a $30 pair of pajamas that I'd gotten on sale for $15. I can get great gifts for great prices, but gift cards are never on sale.
My way of counteracting this is to make a better presentation. Rather than putting the gift card in an envelope or a small gift card tin, I plan to watch throughout the year and gather interesting and fun ways to present my gift cards.
The idea struck me when I received a half dozen chocolate pretzels in a lavishly decorated bag. I was fawning all over the gift, ignoring the fact that it cost its giver very little. There was so much thought put into my gift; the thing that truly counts. It then dawned on me; there's not much thought put into a gift card in an envelope.
One idea is to purchase a photo calendar. Add photos of family members throughout the year, or write sweet messages for each month. In place of the photo every so often, slide in a small gift card. $5 coffee coupons are great for the coffee lovers, and you can cater the cards to meet your budget.
Purchase a small gift for someone to show you're giving it some thought, and add a median sized gift card inside.
Create a small gift basket from a coffee mug, a bag of coffee, and a gift card. Create a collection of bath soaps, loofahs, sponges, and a giftcard. Fill a pencil holder with pens, highlighters, and a giftcard for the office supply store.
Buy a box of candy and slip the gift card inside the box.
Purchase a bargain DVD and add a small gift card for the movies inside the case. CDs work well, too. Add a gift card for a golf cart or a round of 9 holes to a box of golf tees and balls.
Imagine that your father-in-law wants a new TV for the living room. For the man who has everything, except a new TV, a gift card is the best option. Make it more personal and productive by joining forces. Talk to everyone, and have everyone agree to purchase a gift card for him for the same store. Don't combine money and buy one card; this forces people to give equal amounts. Instead, purchase your own cards in whatever denomination feels comfortable; write your name on your card. All the cards can be put into one creatively wrapped gift, or they can be wrapped separately with notes that the cards should go towards the new TV. It's doubtable that the gift cards will equal a new TV, but they will help to defray the cost, and they have more thought than one card alone.
You might need to be careful with this. Clark Howard (Savings Guru) said it would be unwise to do gift cards this season. I posted about this on my blog recently. Many businesses are not as healthy as we think they are. Some are downright on the verge of going out of business. The first losers when this happens is the gift cards holders - especially if a store files for bankruptcy.
Nothing says I love you like cold hard cash. (JK - LOL) I love gift cards too but I am finding other ways to show my love and appreciation this year. I would hate for my gift to end up being worthless and useless.
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