December 28, 2010

Gift Cards Are The Lazy Way Out

I know I will upset some people with this post but I need to get some things off my chest.

Giving gift cards as gifts is the lazy way out, especially for loved ones.

I know it's the thought that counts.


But, what if no thought goes into a gift?

Let me explain.

I am the kind of gift giver who takes great care in what I give as a gift. I think about the recipient and what they would love to receive. What would put a smile on their face. It brings me great joy and happiness and I do it with much love.

And you know what? It really doesn't take much effort.

This year, I gave my two nieces a Coach wristlet, a Calvin Klein sweater, Sephora makeup and handmade artwork that I will post about in the new year.

Why is it that my nieces and sister-in-law put absolutely zero thought and effort into what they give me? I see them put lots of effort into buying gifts for other people, but not me.

It is the same every year. And by the same, I mean THE SAME.

A gift certificate to my nail place, a Target gift card and last year, things were shaken up with a $10 gift card to CVS.

Yeah for me! I can buy tampons!

There was a time when my sister-in-law would, every year, buy me a Precious Moments figurine. She likes Precious Moments. I can't stand them. I don't know where she got the idea that I liked them.

I play a game with a few of my friends as to what I will get each year. And every year, I am spot on. Kind of like the dad in the cell phone commercial who can guess what his monthly bill will be.

Before my brother met his wife, he was a great gift giver. He stood on line for hours to get me a Cabbage Patch Doll one Christmas. I still have her; Sabrina Lynette and I can cry thinking about it.

Once he met his wife, the gift giving went down hill. While they were dating or engaged, her first gift to me was tube socks. Yes, three pairs of white socks.

Some of you may say I am ungrateful. I don't know. But what I do know is that I am hurt and saddened that every birthday and Christmas is the same thoughtless gifts.

Does my family really think so little of me? I do so much for them, and since my brother's death, I am trying to do double.

Am I that hard to buy for? Look around my home. Or . . . ask me.

I have tried in recent years to protect myself from this yearly nightmare by telling them not to get me anything. I just want to give to them. I was even more adamant this season.

I am trying to save myself from the hurt because I know what is going to happen. I will be bitching and moaning to my father and my friends the next day.

Which is what happened yet again this Christmas.

Now, get this. For my older niece's 18th birthday this summer, I got her a gift card mainly to make a statement and you know what? She was pissed at me. Can you believe it? I gave her what I always get from her and she didn't like it. She said that I always give such great gifts. (Unlike her mother's sister who has given her gift cards since birth.)

So, what do I do?

Do I just accept that this is the way they are and that what has happened in the past will happen yet again so just shut up?

Or, do I share with them that I am hurt when so little if any, thought goes into my gift?

I really don't want to receive anything. I don't want the hurt anymore. I don't want the thought of feeling like I don't matter.

I just want to give and then I won't be so let down.

"The manner of giving is worth more than the gift."
- Pierre Corneille


Jenny in Maine said...

Hey Carmie, hmmm...I personally love gift cards as I look at it that I am able to purchase exactly what I truly want/love/need. Probably because unlike you, a majority of the gifts I receive appear to be last minute thoughts and nothing personal. I also try to think of personal, special gifts, but must admit that most of the time...I buy a gift card. ;P

Have a great one!!

Sarah {The Student Knitter} said...

I am sooooooooooo with you on this one! Even if it was something from a dollar store, but it was meaningful, It'd be better than a gift card. Or something home made that cost pennies! I hate gift cards because they say "this amount is exactly how much you mean to me" (be it $10, $30, or $100) when if you put time in to thinking about something inexpensive but meaningful, it's worth so much more than what you spent on it!

I would be hurt too... and I guess you're going to talk to her about it sooner or later if even to explain why you don't want them anymore.

Donnie said...

Since my kids married they have asked for checks and we have complied and then when the economy hit them so hard we started sending the "checks" on December 1st so they could buy their Christmas. My husband had told them years ago that we had all we needed so they took that as no gifts so now I get no gifts. None from hubby either. I have to go buy my own Bath & Body works soap, etc. It's just sad but not totally their fault. We also send a separate check for the DIL to buy a toy for each grandchild to have under the tree too. I personally don't look forward to Christmas other than Jesus birth.

Beth said...

I have taken away the pain by opting out of most gift exchanges... we draw names...but this year we tried something different..per family...we each picked a warmth, pictures, chocolate...and then made up a family basket to go with the word! It turned out beautiful and was fun too!

Kim-A Creative Spirit said...

I def wouldn't share this post with your family... hahaha. My kids LOVE gift cards so they can buy themselves what they want.... but I like to get them some fun stuff to open TOO... The gift card thing started as my former inlaws had a knack for buying them clothes they would not be caught dead in. It was always a joke afterward about their inappropriate gifts. My kids NEVER told so still get weird gifts to this day.

michelle said...

i don't mind gift cards but if it happens ALL the time, yeah, I would start to wonder too. I love giving gifts and buying things for people and see them open it! 9 times out of 10 they like it, except my sister in law who takes everything back that we get their kids because she comes up with some dumb reason they can't have it (even though the kids love it) So I didn't enclose any receipts this year! :) Anyway, I don't know how to approach this other than to know that in your heart you love giving gifts and that is what makes you happy, you have a giving heart and that is what sets you apart. If that is how your SIL and family want to be, then, so be it I guess, maybe in time that they will see that giving a gift means more than just giving a gift, if that makes sense. :)

poindextr said...

hmmm. well. when it comes to other people, they just are who they are. they aren't you and you can't change them to be who you want them to be. So, with that reality backdrop, you just accept any gift that they choose to give with a polite thank you. Then it's yours to do with as you please. Give it away, use it, toss it, whatever. I think I know where you're coming from. Sometimes lemons, sometimes lemonade. I try to be a thoughtful gift giver, but I know not all my attempts are wonderful. Oh well. The gift someone gives is not so much a reflection on you as it is on the giver. Hope you have a great day!!

Ellen said...

We (my brothers and their wives and my husband and I) used to exchange gifts, but one brother and his wife only wanted gift cards. Eventually we just stopped - exchanging gift cards is like exchanging cash - not fun and useless. Now we just make a donation to my parent's parish as our gift in honor of them and occasionally we'll get a silly gift for each other - this year my brother gave me and my other brother a santa in an out house with about 14 different sayings including lots of wind breaking. I love it.

Joanne Kennedy said...

Well I guess I had a little different problem. I have a cousin who always wants to exchange gifts. She would give me the worst gifts! Things like free stuff she gets in the mail, old stale candy (I mean really old), I would NEVER be able to use one thing she gave me. So, when she started to give me gift cards to the movies I was THRILLED!
I love getting gift cards but you are right, they are thoughtless.

I think if I were you I would either come right out and tell them this year NO GIFT CARDS ALLOWED! Or, just get something you really want with them and be happy it's not a gift you can't or won't use and end up in the trash like mine were :)

Oh and I gave gifts to my two nieces for years and never got a gift in return or even a thank you. I finally stopped after I sent a big box in the mail to them full of fun things. I called up to see if they got it and was told "ya, I think so".

Good luck!

Sissi said...

I have to say that I really like getting gift cards, but they usually have strings attached in my family. For example, my sweet brother got me a gc for a "decorative clock" that he was told I needed. he explained that he had no clue which one I'd like. Personally I was thrilled, since I don't want a clock, that was someone else's opinion of what I should have. If I do go the giftcard route, I try and make it super personal, a gc for a sweet boutique downtown or a starbucks gc with some coffee for a coffee lover. Something they can use/have and something they can spend. Good luck with family. I've found that with them, gc are usually a safe bet to protect you from other things. As far as the CVS one, see if you can use it to buy a gc to somewhere else!

Amy said...

Is it possible that SIL heard you mention a great deal you bought at CVS and thought you'd get a kick out of trying to stretch the gift card? (Had to be the annoying see-the-positive person for a minute there, sorry.)

Otherwise, though, I'm sorry that you get what feel like thoughtless gift cards. :( I think next year I'd have to start talking about how you are hoping to add to your turquoise collection... how you've made an Amazon wish list to make gift-giving really easy so nobody has to resort to gift cards... something like that. Clearly, bold hints are needed for your clueless gift-givers!

I'll confess: we have given the exact same gift card every year to my DH's mom's husband for ten years now. He's a tool guy who LOVES his tools... and I'm clueless as to what he has/ needs/ wants. A Sears gift card makes both the giver and receiver happy in that case.

concretenprimroses said...

I agree with you in theory. I give gift cards on occassion because I am a terrible gift chooser. sometimes I hit it right, but often not.

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