Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Why I Discourage My Kids From Buying Gift Cards

It's quite possible I'm hardcore about gifts and gifting, but as a Dad, I think it's really important to share my values with my children, and one of them is the importance of a gift being a demonstration of your love and awareness of the recipient.

It's rather a game I play, actually: when someone I know has a birthday or Hanukah / Christmas is coming up, or, in the case of a partner, Valentine's Day, the challenge of figuring out the perfect present begins.

You pay close attention to them, listen to what they talk about wanting, take note of the things they gravitate towards in stores, at the Mall, or even in product catalogs or newspaper fliers. You obliquely ask them about specific kinds of products. You see what they are coveting of yours (or a friend), and you keep track.

When it's time to purchase the gift, a bit of research on a site like, with its extraordinary database of product reviews and comments, can quickly reveal the best in class or the limitations and problems associated with a given potential gift. 

In the end, a perfect gift is a terrific gesture of love, an obvious sign that your affection for them isn't just associated with a cash value but that you pay attention to them. That you see them, hear them, and think about them.

How can a gift card compare to that?

Dave Taylor writes a parenting blog at and is a single dad to three children, 15, 11, and 8.


Karen Greenberg said...

Absolutely! Very well said. Each year I get a gift card from my husband's parents. Each year it is of a fairly high value (this year I bought myself a Wii with it), but I don't feel like I've gotten the perfect gift. Other people think I'm crazy and feel like I'm not appreciative. I do appreciate the card, but I would honestly rather they spend half the money and get me something I have really been wanting. I don't spend money on myself well, so most of the time gift cards are used toward groceries or household items that are needed. This year my husband insisted that I treat myself to something I've been wanting. If it wasn't for him, my card would have, once again, been used for groceries. I love that you are passing your values onto your children. Gifts are SO much more than money.

Karie said...

Another nice post.......thanks for sharing.