Sunday, December 10, 2017

Let's Hear it for the Gift Card

The lowly gift card has been mightily maligned in recent years. It's taken on the mantle of "cop out" present, the thing to get when you want to get it over with. It's time to change that thinking. Gift cards can be great.

There is something delicious about having a gift card in your pocket. The anticipation! The careful decision-making!

To be sure, some gift card recipients run out and use one immediately. Others squirrel one away so well they forget they have it. I saw this many times at the Lovely Boutique. A customer would pull out a dusty, dog-eared slice of cardboard at the cash wrap and tell me with astonishment how she had just found it.

Where giving gift cards gets tricky is in their selection. I'm not a fan of generic Visa or Mastercard gift cards. Just too impersonal. In that case you might as well give money. Crisp new currency even smells better.

I'm also not big on grocery store gift cards (unless it's a fancy specialty foods place). Too easy to use on paper towels and such. Same with drug stores or fast food places.  I'm not a Starbucks addict as I'm too cheap but will admit to enjoying a Starbucks gift card.

One of my favorite gift cards was for $25 at Tiffany. That was when $25 could buy something. Today this would need to be $100. This gift gave me a great excuse to wander through the fabled Fifth Avenue store, and wander I did, taking note of what I might purchase. I think I bought a deck of cards. Okay, it was a double deck and housed in a lovely box in that beautiful shade of blue.

There is a whole world of gift cards out there. You don't have to think too hard— just a little— to match your intended with the perfect treat.

> A manicure or pedicure at her favorite place (or the best salon in town)

> Movie theater admissions. National chains make this easy for sending across the miles.

> Aforementioned fancy foods store (or macarons or chocolates or caviar or...)

> The Lovely Boutique in your town (that place you know she likes to browse)

> Books, books, books. You can do Amazon, but why not patronize your local bookseller?

> Restaurant gift cards. Take note, though. They may not include alcohol and tips. 

> Etsy even has gift cards for a "choose your own adventure" gift. Neither of you have to leave the warmth of your computers for that one.


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