Keep on giving

While the gift card might be an easy solution to the endless question, “What should I get them?”, it’s actually ruining the holiday season.

The so-called “Christmas game” revolves around mystery gifts hidden under the tree that you open when your name is called. It’s a surprise.

But over the past few years, the boxes have gotten smaller and the presents less creative and more predictable. Everyone was opting for gift cards.

The game became less endearing when you knew you had an 80 per cent chance of ending up with a shiny plastic rectangle instead of a pretty set of cheese plates you’d never use.

So now, I’ve taken issue with the gift card.

Chances are you’ve probably given one in an attempt to appear more thoughtful than giving a wad of cash when you’re at a loss for gift ideas.

You’ve also probably received one and happily took advantage of the freedom to buy whatever you wanted in a specific store.

But when we lost the magic of presents, we lost the magic of the game and the holidays altogether.

It was Blockbuster who first marketed and created the first gift card in 1994, as a solution to counterfeit gift certificates.

Starbucks introduced the reusable card in 2001, thus beginning the boom.

Last holiday season, the company sold about $1.4 billion in gift cards. The practice is working for Starbucks, but what has it done to the art of gifting?

I’m guilty. I’ve bought friends gift cards and I’ve enjoyed using them. But I also enjoy the struggle of picking out the perfect gift.

I love to see the person’s face when they open up something that’s clearly chosen exactly for them.

Gift cards sell the idea that you can give the person exactly they what they want. If they’re the ones who choose their gift, disappointment is avoidable.

But all it’s really doing is taking the soul out of gifting.

It’s not about what the gift is. It’s truly the thought that counts.

The holidays are about making memories with family, and giving that thoughtful gift — no matter how big or small — creates a meaningful appreciation neither party will soon forget.

Keep the people in your life special during this holiday season and think before you gift card.

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