As a college student, I will readily admit that I do not have an aversion to gift cards, especially if they mean I can peruse and obtain that buyer’s remorse from the comfort of my pajamas, at home on my couch.
I am about as broke as they come, since I both work and live on campus here at CSU, so it is definitely not the idea of free money that bothers me about gift cards. It is the execution of them that bothers me.
It is not the gift card in that scenario that bothers me. I love getting gift cards from my grandma to places like Subway, and I will eat at Subway, and use that gift card happily because it is not dining hall food.
However, getting gift cards sometimes shows that my relatives, like many others, play the game of caring about you and your holiday wishes without actually caring.
Gift cards are the cop outs of Christmas. It is like saying, “You are worth a monetary value to me, but not the effort it takes to spend that monetary value on something I know you will like.”
It is the shortcut to gift giving, like shooting a stressed friend a text instead of showing up at their door with Starbucks and a chick flick. Both are responses, but one shows you care.
For some cases, gift cards are tolerable. If you have only been friends with someone for less than a year, a generic gift card is acceptable.
You both know that you do not know each other well enough to find something meaningful that you may want to exchange, so a gift card is the safe and acceptable bet.
This idea changes when you are either related to this person, you have known them for a while, or most especially, if they have told you what they want.
If you give a gift card at this point, you are sending the message that you either do not know them well enough or do not care enough to put in the effort of trying.
The only time a gift card is acceptable in this case would be if you could not afford the thing this person wanted.
At this point, getting a gift card and writing that it is intended to help them get the thing they wanted, makes getting the gift card acceptable.
It shows that you put thought and effort in, even if you came up short, and it gives it a personal touch.
You may be wondering what the distinction between all these are. You see, it is the thought behind the gift that counts.
Gift cards have given us an easy way out, an end all solution for all of our Christmas shopping needs. However, by only getting gift cards, you take away from the whole point of the Christmas gift exchange.
That being said, Christmas is not about a monetary exchange; It is about putting in the time and effort to show your love ones that you love them by finding something that makes them smile.
Even a gift of small monetary value can be as, if not more, important than a plastic piece worth $25, because behind the first gift there was time, effort, and thought from a person intended on making that person happy.
That is what the season is about—making others happy.
So put down that 10 pack of pre-packaged Target gift cards, fire up that laptop of yours, and send some emails to your family to ask what they want for Christmas.
Or use it as an excuse to stalk your friends on Facebook for things they may want. We will not judge.