Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gift Cards or Gift Giving

Anyone who knows me knows that gift cards ( for the most part) say, “I don’t care enough to be creative or to know you well enough to know what you really want.”  Anybody who truly knows me knows I loathe shopping.  I would rather have a useless gift that comes from the heart than a gift card.

I am probably in the minority as not everybody feels that way. I know my sister-in-law would much rather have the gift card than an item that she’s just going to exchange anyway.  At least two of my boys love receiving gift cards and being able to get what they want (with pants and shoes it’s just as well; they can’t just be purchased as they have to be fitted to their bodies)

For a while I refused to buy gift cards.  What does that say about me.  Giving someone a gift that I would never want for myself.  And yet how often do we buy or make things for people that we would never purchase or make for ourselves?

  Sending a gift card to a newlywed couple in another state is more convenient than putting a care package together.  And even though there is often joy at the receiving end of the package, will the contents really work for their wants or needs?

Gift cards at a shower or reception for newlyweds actually seems more acceptable for me than as a Christmas gift – as the couple may really be in need of something more practical than the nine toasters that made it to the gift table. 

Gift cards also make great stocking stuffers for the fuss budgets who are hard to shop for and don’t mind shopping on their own.  Jenna feels quite grown up when she has an opportunity to use a gift card.  They are convenient for both the giver and the receiver.  But still, not everybody appreciates them. 
          I like surprises.  I always have.  There for a while when mom would ask me what I wanted for Christmas I would always answer, “To be surprised.” And I rarely was.  My sister-in-law asked the same question last year after we had drawn names.  I think Sunny is creative enough to come up with something on her own – which she did – as she didn’t go for any of my suggestions.  And that really made me like it all the more.

          I could never find the right words to express what I was feeling though until one day when Roland had returned home from the work Christmas party with a note from his boss which included the words I was feeling.  And so I quote a part of that letter because I agree.

          “Selecting the right gift takes time and thought.  In the words of one “expert” on gift-giving, ‘The art of giving a gift is that it must come from your genuine desire to acknowledge the kindness and value this person has shown you throughout the year. 

“‘A gift should be about honoring something you share and value with this person.  When you don’t know someone well and can’t really know what they would like, then you should give them something you, yourself, like.’ She suggests sharing one of your own values with them.”
          After reading that, I thought, “Wow.  That is exactly what I want to say.” Well, perhaps not exactly, but close enough.  The words convey how I feel.

          As it turned out, though the gift was one that was truly a part of the boss’ character, it really wasn’t something that nearly anyone in the office would purchase for his or herself.  However Roland could totally see Biff being thrilled with the item, and as we never know what to get Biff anyway, the office gift became a recycled gift for Biff.  And he loves it and is getting way more use out of it than we ever could.

My youngest boy is into recycling his gifts.  Perhaps we’re all guilty of that.  There is usually not so much thought put into recycled gifts other than getting rid of it and convenient self from having to go shopping or creating or whatever.  But I still think I’d rather receive a recycled gift than a gift card.  If I don’t like it, I can always recycle it next year.

We receive gift cards from Roland’s family.  Understandable.  They live in another state.  One sister in my ward gives out gift cards to her 30 grandkids and great grandkids.  Also understandable.  How does one find the time for personalizing that many gifts  - especially with her given health?

I do like the idea of still being able to personalize many gift cards as so many places will give a variety of choices on what your gift card looks like.

          So there you have it.  For what it’s worth, this is my opinion: People are different.  We need to focus on the people and not so much on the gifts.  

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