Holiday Gift Cards

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Are gift cards on your Christmas list? If so, here’s some information that you ought to know. . .before heading to the mall.

The National Retail Federation’s estimates that over $26 billion…that’s billion with a capital “B” will be spent on gift cards this holiday season. Yes, over $26 billion dollars with be spend on gift card this year even though over $8 billion dollars in gift cards purchased in 2006 have never been used.

Why do you think most people buy gift cards? Because it’s easy.

Why do most people buy and ask for gift cards? Once you’ve heard all the excuses, it’s easy to understand the whys:

1. They don’t like it. I remember one of my grandmothers gave me socks for Christmas five years in a row when I was between the ages of 5 and 10. I loved this Grandma but I hated the socks. Even if I needed the socks and I’m sure my Mom felt like I did, you just don’t give a kid socks for Christmas.

2. It doesn’t fit. I better not discuss this one because certain members of my family may be reading this blog and I don’t want them to get bent out of shape. Speaking of shape, let me just tell you that if a sweater is on sale, that fact is not nearly as important as getting the right size. Okay, I said it anyway.

3. They already have it. I remember one relative that use to give us fruitcakes. Now I’m one of the five people in the world who don’t mind fruitcakes… if they’re fresh, but I’m convinced this relative didn’t like them so he saved the ones he got one year and gave them as gifts the next year.

If I keep writing this blog, I may not be welcome at the next family reunion.

So, that brings me to returns. Let me share with you why people, and more specifically the writer of this blog, hates returns.

I have to get in the car, drive to the mail, find a parking place, part the sea of humanity that invades malls for after Christmas sales, stand in long lines, deal with sales clerks who really don’t want to be working. . .only to discuss that I didn’t have a sales slip or I’m in the wrong line.

So what’s the solution?

If you give a gift card, maybe include a note and asks the recipent to let you know what they bought with the gift card. . .or if they enjoyed the meal so you’ll know if that is the restaurant you need to visit for a gift card next Christmas. These are subtle reminders for them to use the gift card that you spent your hard-earned money buying for them.

If you say, “Don’t worry about”. . .that’s okay too.

My personal solution is what I’ve told my daughters for years. Don’t buy anything for me. Write me a letter, or a poem, or paint me a picture. What I want for Christmas is . .their thoughts, their hearts and their presence … not their presents.

Is that what my children want for Christmas? Not a chance, they want gift cards.

Smiling. . .so that’s why I’m writing this blog.