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Using Gift Cards for Holiday Gifts

Updated on August 29, 2012

For the past few years gift cards have been the biggest seller among Christmas gifts, and it’s probably not changing anytime soon. Gift cards and money cards are an alternative currency and afford people the ease of shopping for themselves; and shoppers, who are themselves the recipients, find it just as easy to comply; so we buy.

After creating my family’s compiled Christmas list one year and noticing that most people listed gift cards and very few other items, I realized how problematic gift cards are becoming to a season characterized by giving.

Now let me not fool you—I listed gift cards, too. In fact, I listed the largest number of gift cards out of the other eleven! But I also listed more gift items from which to choose than any four or five persons combined. The point of the list was to make shopping easier for everyone by giving them some idea of what others wanted. Now agree with me that a Christmas where the whole family shows up with a cache of plastic would be dull by all comparisons.

Gift-Giving with Gift Cards

Think about it: Christmas, even divorced from its sacred roots is still a time of cheerful, heartfelt giving. It is the period we set aside each year to forego social debts and trivial pursuits to enjoy our neighbors and lavish our family and friends with gifts. Joy is the keynote of the season, in whatever we wish to enjoy; and joyful hearts tend to give

Now isn’t it fun to give someone a gift, something tangible that he or she really wants or isn’t expecting? Isn’t it meaningful to watch their excitement and even tears? And don’t you love being on the receiving end?

You see, a gift—merchandise—requires thoughtfulness and creativity. It means more to me to receive a gift because it shows me that the giver had to reflect on my personality and the things I enjoy. The true gift received is the extension of that person's heart.

But gift cards are the Grinches that are beginning to steal this Christmas joy. Gift-giving, done out of obligation, can now be easily managed to save face—“Let’s get this over with” and “Well everybody got something.” But this is not giving. It’s lackluster, jaded indifference that doesn’t characterize Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So before you pick up that gift card this year stop and think why you’re doing it. Hopefully you haven’t already bought into the banality that has caught this nation up into misplaced values during this season. Let this be your posted note asking you to opt-in the meaningful and joyful.

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