This is one slightly harried mom’s perspective on gift cards-and how they are absolutely fabulous to receive as gifts.
I know a lot of people feel like gift cards are a cop out, a last minute, “crap, I didn’t get anything for so and so-let’s just grab a gift card.” We’ve all been there-as participants on both sides-so this does happen.
Low denomination gift cards are also becoming a standard generic “Thank you” gift for a variety of businesses. Big or small, from church to chain foods, nothing says “Christmas” to your employees/volunteers like a $10 Starbucks card (oh wait, they don’t celebrate Christmas. MY BAD. Chick-fil-a, then).
But for me- the mom who is wearing holes in her jeans and various toddler blessed grime on her 5 year old sweaters-gift cards are a blessing. A beautiful, intentional, amazing thing-and here is why.
First- Christmas lists. Christmas lists as a child involved huge toy magazines, a variety of colored writing utensils, and convoluted ranking systems that required several drafts before perfected. There was price consideration, bedroom space allocation, whether your sister asked for the same thing contemplation-it was complicated, people, and I had allllllll the tiiiime in the woooorld to finish it (Ok, not entirely, lists have always been due by October 1st in my family-a rule that does get bent on occasion but not by much).
Now I have two exuberant boys who are rough and tumble-VERY rough and tumble. My brain is exhausted by the boo boo kisses, the ongoing argument in my head of whether I should put them both in helmets, the clashes of will, plus meal planning, laundry, dishes, workout, cleaning, grocery shopping… Now you want me to come up with things that I want for Christmas in a timely and organized manner? Ha. Haha. HAHAHAHA
Gift cards, y’all. I want gift cards. Or for you to just get me something. I can tell you vague information about what I’d like at some point, but I don’t have anything I am really craving unless you count the desire for a full time cook and a maid. This year I was smart and had started creating an Amazon wish list any time a random “Oh, that’d be nice” thought crossed my mind, but don’t be prepared for anything fancy. The only thing (besides the cook and maid) I really want for Christmas is a butter dish. Yes. A butter dish.
Second-restricted shopping. There are a few stores that I would LOVE to be able to shop at (online, of course, I dislike in store shopping) but anytime I’m like, “Oh THAT’S cute.” at a Zulilly Ad on facebook or “Ooo, I love the color of that” to my friend’s Instagram selfie, or even the random wistful, “Someday I’d like to wear more dresses then pants” I switch back over to writing my list for groceries, contemplating things for the boys, and generally ignoring the shopping impulse altogether. This is good for our budget, and I truly enjoy being a stay at home mom, and I don’t really mind wearing the “momiform” everyday, and, and, and… gift cards to specific stores slice through all of that. If I get a gift card to Athleta-I am the only one in my household who can wear those clothes! ME. I have to shop for me. There is no way to negotiate, I am held hostage by a gift card, and it is my contractual obligation by accepting the gift to utilize the fullest amount
Lastly-experience. I loathe physically window shopping-seriously one of the most pointless exercises ever. My husband hates questions like, “What would you do with a million dollars” because it is all fruitless speculation until you get a million dollars. I don’t mind fruitless speculation because I know the odds are it’ll never happen so it takes the pressure off. He, however, likes to window shop. What is the point of dealing with bad parking, crowds and the assorted smells/looks/accidental physical contact, a hundred thousand items you aren’t in any way interested in, while looking at things you can’t afford or aren’t going to buy any time soon. What is the point of acknowledging you maybe would like that thing just to not get it? What is the point of reminding yourself habitually that you can’t have nice things?
Ok, the last part might be a bit of an exaggeration, but still. Window shopping=exercise in pointless aggravation. But give me a gift card, force me to shop at one store, just for me, online, money in hand so to speak…. Oh man. During that golden nap hour I can peruse the pages, tabbing, selecting, comparing-knowing that in the end I MUST get something. It is bliss. It lets me step away from being a mom and just do something simple for the pleasure of doing it. There is almost a pang of regret at checkout because the experience is over, I have done the shopping, I have used the gift card.
Honestly, that last point is pretty much my favorite part of gift cards. I like the actual transactional part of buying something. You could probably get me a gift card to Lowes and I’d enjoy it just as much. I like spending money, and gift cards let me spend money and forces me to spend it on myself-the person in my household I am least likely to buy anything for.
So don’t knock the gift card as “unfeeling” or “impersonal”. It’s what I really, really want for Christmas.