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When in Doubt, Give a Gift Card

Updated on August 28, 2012
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing for HubPages for over 7 years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.

Make Shopping Easy

Many people struggle every year trying to find the perfect gifts for Christmas, Hanukkah, graduations, Mother's or Father's Day, or birthdays for a friend or a family member. Some people refuse to buy a gift card because they believe it is "impersonal." I am here to tell you this is not so!

Most of the people I know love getting gift cards. The key is finding a gift card from a store they like. You can also give them the gift card in a really nice holiday card with a personalized message. This way, it does not seem as impersonal. Also, depending on how much you are going to spend, you should consider giving a small gift basket with some cute items he or she might like with a gift card in the basket. Never rule out a gift card unless someone explicitly says, "I hate it when people give me gift cards."

For the Person Who Has Everything

Let's face it, we all have friends and family members that seem to have everything they want and need. It is impossible to decide on a gift since they usually buy all the new gadgets as soon as they hit the stores.

A gift card is the perfect gift for someone that is difficult to shop for during the holidays. In most cases, the person that has everything they want has it because he or she loves to shop. Find out what stores they enjoy the most, and give them a gift card from that store. This way, they can buy exactly what they want, even if they don't need it.

You may want to consider purchasing a restaurant gift card, as well. Some people love dining out and will be pleased to get a gift card for it. If there is a certain restaurant they always enjoy dining at, make sure to get a gift card there. If they've been talking about trying out a new restaurant for a while, a gift card for that restaurant is not only a fun idea, but very thoughtful.

Don't Even Leave Your House to Buy a Gift Card

For the Person Who is Having a Tough Time

This economy has hit many of us really hard. A person who is not doing so well financially will appreciate a more practical gift card. I highly recommend finding out where they do the most shopping, even if it is only for groceries, and give them a gift card from that store. There was a time when I thought it was not too exciting getting a gift card for a grocery store. Now, I absolutely love it.

When buying a gift card for a grocery store, make sure to find out where they normally shop so you can get the right gift card. If you do not know where they shop, look around to see what grocery stores are in their area. The last thing you want to do is buy a gift card for a certain store that is not even close to where the recipient lives. After all, if they need help buying groceries, chances are, they won't want to spend the extra money on gas or public transportation to use the gift card.

Another option is always a Walmart, Kmart, or Target gift card. It is important to find out if the birthday guy or girl has a preference. Some people have a strong preference for a certain discount store or even resent the policies of a particular store and refuse to shop there. Find that out in advance so you do not unintentionally offend them.

For Those Difficult Teenagers

I think we can all pretty much agree teenagers can be a pain. Their mood swings are pretty unpredictable and so are their shopping lists. If you need to buy a present for a teenager, but don't feel comfortable outright asking for a list, then a gift card is the best way to go.

If possible, ask to find out where the teen likes to shop. You don't want to offend a teen that likes to shop at American Eagle with a gift card for Hot Topic. Sometimes you can conveniently get a gift card for a teenager's favorite mall. Those work well, but there is often a fee. Also, if a teenager prefers to shop at Target, you'd probably be better off getting a gift card there. For that matter, when in doubt, Target is usually a winner as long as there is one located near the teen's house.

If All Else Fails, Visa is Everywhere You Want to Be

If you are having a tough time making a decision on the store gift card you'd like to purchase, you can also buy a card that will be accepted at most stores. All the major credit card companies have gift cards; this includes Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. When looking into getting one of these gift cards, it is important to determine the extra fees. Most of these gift cards have an activation fee, as well as penalty fees if a person does not use the card within a certain amount of time.

Make sure to always read the fine print on the back of any gift card before making the purchase. Certain stores also have a time limit on their gift cards. If a card needs to be spent in a short period of time, you should probably move on and go to a different store for a different gift card. However, most gift cards last a reasonable amount of time and will be appreciated. In general, most people will spend it right away as long as you go through the effort to buy the best gift card that works for them. So for now, happy gift card shopping to you!


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  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    It can be so difficult finding the right gift sometimes. I am a big believer in getting a cute little gift with the gift card tucked in the present somewhere. I figure it is thoughtful enough that I went through the trouble to get a card from their favorite store. Thanks for the comment!

  • nycgrl profile image

    Veronica 6 years ago from New York

    I have so many people in my life that fit that description of already have it all so what do I get them. And I do hate giving gift cards, I am a big on getting just the "right" gift. But if all else fails and I have run out of options as well as time, gift cards are always my go to.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thank you for reading and for the comment. It is true I also feel a little spoiled with a gift card. I tend to buy something a little more expensive for myself that I would not buy if I were using my money. Gift cards are a nice way to encourage a person to splurge a little.

  • Blond Logic profile image

    Mary Wickison 6 years ago from Brazil

    I like the idea of gift cards as well. I feel when I receive one, I can spoil myself with it, whereas I might not take the opportunity to get something for myself.

    You have some good ideas about which ones are most appropriate. For students away at University they are a great idea as well.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thank you both for the comments. Gift cards are a practical easy gift. I predict the gift card will be very popular this holiday season.

  • Movie Master profile image

    Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

    I think the gift card is the perfect present, I much prefer to receive one instead of something I don't really need.

    Easier for the buyer too!

  • lukegoldstein profile image

    lukegoldstein 6 years ago from Sherman Oaks, CA

    I actually like gift cards as well because I'm a person interested in so many different hobbies and various stores that the person shopping for me ends up having too many options. The gift card shifts that anxiety of exactly what item to get off of them and onto me, which is less about anxiety and more about excitement of going into that store with prepaid money in hand.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile image

    Jeannie InABottle 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thank you for your comment. This is so true. Who wants to give someone a gift that will just be unwanted or regifted in no time? Gift cards are the best option.

  • tamarindcandy profile image

    tamarindcandy 6 years ago

    Agreed. Many people seem to find it impersonal, but I think it's the easiest and most efficient way to give - plus, no danger of unwanted gifts.