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19 December 2010

Idle Opinion Poll. What do you all think about giving gift certificates (I guess they're not called that anymore, but you know what I mean) as Christmas presents?
I like them in theory, but I often forget to use them. I think they are better if they are for a place I shop often or somewhere with a variety of things to choose from (like amazon). I got a Macy's gift card a few years ago, and I never go there so I haven't been able to use it.

My dad has just sent me a check for years now. Works great!
posted by jeoc 19 December | 14:11
I love receiving them.. I give them occasionally. I always make sure to give people gift cards to places I know they like.
posted by gaspode 19 December | 14:14
I admit it: I LOVE getting gift certificates. I love knowing that I have $X to spend at a favorite shop.

Two of our best wedding presents, from two different people: a gift certificate for an inexpensive local restaurant and a ticket book for a local movie theater. Those two presents guaranteed that we had a few date nights in the upcoming months.

Unlike cash, gift certificates don't disappear into the general funds and get spent on the phone bill or groceries or whatever, which makes them extra-special.

I agree that gift cards are most thoughtful when, y'know, the giver puts some thought into them: giving cards to a place the recipient already likes, or that they think the recipient will like, rather than just a generic iTunes/ Target/ groceries card.

But even those can be really thoughtful, if they're given thoughtfully, and even if they aren't given thoughtfully, they're very useful.
posted by Elsa 19 December | 14:18
The flipside: I'm not crazy about giving them, because they sometimes feel kinda blank, even if I've chosen them carefully. (Also because I'm usually aiming to spend less and less at Christmas.) When I do splurge on a gift card, I usually accompany it with a trinket or something to make it feel a little more special.

One Christmas I gave my sister & BIL a certificate to a local sushi place along with a handmade coupon for babysitting, all wrapped up with a box of seaweed crackers. We usually give my mom rental credit at Supercool Local Videostore along with a packet of microwave popcorn and a big box of Junior Mints. My mother gave The Fella a gift card for the local liquor store along with a great ice bucket for our bar.
posted by Elsa 19 December | 14:25
Love giving and receiving them.
posted by deborah 19 December | 14:58
Huh...I've always liked getting them too, but on the other hand, I feel bad giving them. Like it's a cop-out. Maybe I should re-think that.
posted by mullacc 19 December | 16:29
I really don't like them myself; in most situations they seem to imply a lack of thought, in a "can't be bothered" sense. Like when Fred MacMurray gives Shirley MacLaine a hundred bucks in The Apartment.

On the other hand, maybe it's not nice to judge people who give you things . . . .
posted by JanetLand 19 December | 16:38
I give them out to my nieces since there's no way that we could figure out what teen/young adults are going to like. A Penny's gift card always seems to be be appreciated.
posted by octothorpe 19 December | 16:58
I'm all for 'em. My step-father is notoriously hard to buy for, and loves books, so...it's pretty easy to get him a gift card from a book chain. It means I'm not throwing money away on something he might not like.

Sometimes, if I have an idea...I'll still go with that though. They are just really handy when I don't!
posted by richat 19 December | 18:04
Meh; I like stuff. On the other hand, restaurant certificates are pretty great.
posted by Miko 19 December | 18:39
My young nephew recently discovered iTunes, so I've given him an iTunes gift certificate for his birthday and now for Christmas. Most generic present in the universe, but he thinks I am The Cool Aunt for it.
posted by Twiggy 19 December | 18:48
Love getting them, love giving them. Growing up my parents wouldn't dreamed of giving them because they were impersonal. But with the economy, and the influx of giving stuff no one needs or maybe doesn't want, i think they're the perfect gift. I don't think of them as impersonal, and I don't think many people under 30 do either.

Gift cards often have cute designs today, and you can choose one from a retailer the person loves, but maybe can't afford.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't make a gift card the only present to my girl friend, or brother, but anyone else I would, and I honestly think most people would prefer that than having someone pick them out a shirt.

On a side note, I didn't realize some people still called them gift certificates. Been years since I've heard that word.
posted by justgary 19 December | 19:21
I love getting them because as Elsa said, they don't go into "general revenue" and get spent on groceries or bills. I give them too and almost always include something small with them so I can have something a little more substantial to wrap.

I wonder how many go unspent? I think the number must be pretty big. So retailers probably love them too - money for nothing!
posted by nelvana 19 December | 19:26
I like getting them for stores I like but I'm annoyed when I get them for places I don't like or for an amount less than something I could buy at the place.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 19 December | 19:41
I got my son a gift card to a moderately expensive restaurant last Christmas so that he could take his girlfriend out on a nice date. He appreciated it.
posted by octothorpe 19 December | 20:56
We often get gift cards to places we never frequent, like the Chilis gift card the mister's brother gave us for Christmas last year that's still hanging by our door. Or worse yet, to places that don't exist in Alaska. So thank you for that $50 gift card to Ann Taylor that has a $25 minimum shipping charge to Alaska from the website because the internet thinks UPS is the only way to ship things here.

But on the flip side we just bought Visa gift cards for the mister's kids in Philadelphia, and our local nieces and nephews. Kids and teens love them.
posted by rhapsodie 19 December | 21:40
I like them when they are to local places, but not when they are for generic chain stores. It is more convenient to get a gift card than to get an item that I will probably return or feel ungrateful for and keep because I don't like it. I have one relative whose gifts might as well be gift cards, and I was very excited one year when he just got me a gift card instead of an old lady perfume or something.

I don't get them for people very often but I have found that they make good wedding gifts- I mean, money or things from the registry do too- but if I am late on the gift and there isn't much left to get them, gift certificates to restaurants or specialty shops that I know the couple likes seem fun. I chipped in with a bunch of friends and got one couple a large gift certificate to a local fancy beer and cheese store and they loved it and still talk about "the year we bough them all their beer."
posted by rmless2 19 December | 21:57
I like them. My sister sent me a 10 Boots (drugstore) gift card, which is way better than the piles of pound shop crap she normally gives me.

I just bought someone who's about to have a baby a WalMart gift card so she can either use it for day-to-day stuff or put it towards something bigger she might need.

So, yay, gift cards rock.
posted by Senyar 20 December | 09:17
I find they are always a big hit provided they are for a business my giftee really likes. I've had mucho success/happy giftees for gift cards to Amazon.com and Macys especially. I rarely receive them as gifts for myself but would be very happy if someone did that.

Also, I really loved your Xmas card. Thanks!
posted by bearwife 20 December | 14:29
I prefer to give something tangible to people I know well. In my family, I always give a gift, but it's usually in the $10 - 20 range. It's a way of reminding my siblings that I think of them and love them, even if my XMas packages are doing well to arrive by Valentine's Day. For weddings, I like to give a check or gift card, unless I have a specific gift I really want to give.

My go-to gift this year is affordable (cheeeaaap) multi-tools from Big Lots. 8 bucks, and a handy tool to keep in the kitchen junk/tools/whatever drawer.
posted by theora55 21 December | 12:53
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