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To gift card or not to gift card?

December 07, 2022 - 00:00
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Like it or not, dear readers, we are in the 2022 Christmas gift buying season. I personally am not a big shopper in general, but I have my moments. Searching out and finally finding the absolute perfect gift for someone is very gratifying, but then I have to wrap it and wait. Most times I get the gift just right, sometimes I don’t, but either way I get to watch the recipient unveil the prize I selected just for them, which I truly enjoy just as much as they do. I mean, who doesn’t like opening presents?

That brings me back to the topic of gift cards. Personally - and this is just my opinion – I do not like them, Sam I Am, I do not like gift cards and ham! That particular stance might come across a bit harsh and my apologies to Dr. Seuss for taking liberties with his words, but that’s how I feel. It’s almost like an ungift, to me. Pretty impersonal. So now I have to go out and shop for myself? It smacks of laziness. If you really took the time to get to know me, you would know what to get me. That sounded pretty “Grinchy”, sorry about that. Like I said, I’m not a fan, but there are tons of people who are on the other side of this.

Gift cards are big business – to the tune of 572 billion dollars in sales on the Global Gift Card Market last year according to the However, the cards seem to benefit the giver more than the receiver most of the time. The giver knows in their heart that they gave a gift that suits the recipient’s needs or wants and it’s up to the recipient to use it – just like any other gift. The upside is that they get to choose whatever they want, which might not have been completely clear on the giver’s side of the transaction. Another advantage is that gift cards can be mailed at a fraction of the cost of shipping a big heavy item. I can hardly imagine what it would cost to mail a chain saw basically anywhere when a gift card would be much more practical, especially for far away friends.

One of the downsides of gift cards is that they do eventually expire. You have 5 years to redeem the card, but after that, you could be charged with an inactivity fee. And that’s if you still have it. According to Consumer Reports, 25 percent of all gift cards are never used which comes out to over 44 billion dollars of unpurchased gifts. That’s great for the retailer because they already have your money and the less goods they have to shell out, the better their bottom line looks. Another thing to consider especially if you are considering purchasing a gift card with some real money attached to it is the lack of fraud protection. If the card is lost, that money is pretty much gone forever. If you have the receipt the retailer might be able to help you, but don’t count on it.

Are gift cards the right gift for everyone? Obviously not, but they do have advantages. You just have to do the hard work of getting to know people in this digital society that we live in. My Mom was especially great at this. She was always on the lookout for something special to give as a gift and she would hold onto those gifts for months on end before giving them out. I’ve always loved that about her. So, friends, you will never be able to outgive my mom, but please just give what you can, when you can, as often as you can, for as long as ever you can. You’ll be glad you did.

The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Alan Shoalmire. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.

Alan Shoalmire is a resident in Grimes County and the owner of Grill Sergeant Hotdogs and submits a column to the Navasota Examiner every other week.