How do you feel about gift cards for Christmas?
The vast majority of people love them. TIME even said they were the “only gift that makes sense” in 2014. And considering that it’s the one gift people always use (unlike that sweater you bought your father that he immediately asked about a gift receipt for), getting someone a gift card for Christmas sounds like a no-brainer for most. But is it an appropriate gift to give someone you’ve been in a long-term relationship with or are married to?
My husband is notorious for dropping hints about gift ideas. He’d spent pretty much the last two months joking (but was serious) about wanting a new iPad or a Rolex for Christmas. (For the record, I have Fossil watch money — maybe Movado money if I really pinch pennies.) I’d listened to his hints and on the fly, told him in response that I wouldn’t mind something from an up-and-coming jewelry store in Brooklyn that has affordable but high-quality pieces. About a week later, he was checking out the jewelry store’s website while I was in the kitchen and he turned to me and said, “Does this place you like have gift cards?”
I furrowed up my brow and said, “Yeah, but I don’t really want a gift card for Christmas…”
Generally, I’m not against gift cards. I understand that they help people save time, money and energy during an incredibly stressful part of the year. However, of all the people in the world, I didn’t want a gift card from him.
Early on in our relationship, I would have been just fine with such a gift. When you’re getting to know a person, chances are, you don’t have much knowledge just yet on the things they like or what they could really use. But we’ve been together for more than five years. The things I like, he knows about, and if he’s not sure, he knows the best way to go is to ask.
In response to this non-dilemma, I went ahead and did what I’ve been doing over the last few years to ensure that we both give and get things we actually want and need so as to not waste money. I asked him to send me a list of items with a range of prices, and I sent along a few as well. Pretty much an old-school Christmas list. While I’ll have to wait for Monday to see if direct suggestions with links of where to buy helped (they certainly did last year and the year before: #newtraditionsforthewin), I’m a bit more confident in what is to come.
With that being said, I think after a certain point in a relationship, it’s just nice to know that your partner is being thoughtful. They take into consideration what you like, what you would appreciate and take the time to look around to find something they think would be a fit for you. Hence the truth behind the saying, “It’s the thought that counts.”
But then again, that’s not to say that there’s no thought behind gift cards. You are giving of your hard-earned money to someone in the hopes that they will be able to locate the perfect gift for themselves. A gift that will be used, appreciated and loved. It gives a person access to ball out (even if just a little bit) in their favorite stores and places. It’s like a blank check (especially if it’s one of those American Express cash options), but in card form.
However, it all depends on your partner. Truth be told, I’ve just always been the type of person who loved giving gifts that match the personality of the recipient and then watching their reaction, and I’ve appreciated having that reciprocated. If my mom asked me if I wanted money for the holiday or a gift, I’ve always asked for the gift. Call me silly, but that’s the fun part to me of these things. I’m well aware that I’m not a child anymore who needs the thrill of running down the stairs in the morning to rip open gifts. Still, it’s nice every now and then to take a break from the very adult mundanities of accepting cash you’re likely to spend quickly and not remember on what (maybe bills or food), or a card you might run through fast or actually forget is in your wallet. Instead, I take delight in receiving something I will have and love for a long time. So, sorry, but a gift card from your husband or wife just feels too impersonal. And only one year into marriage, whether it sounds petty or not, I don’t think we’ve reached let’s-keep-it-super-simple-with-the-holidays territory just yet