Friday, December 18, 2009

The Gift of Not Having to Gift Give...

The Gift of Not Having to Gift Give...

I jut realized that it's the Holiday season and I haven't raged against the ONE thing that I always rage about every year. Then again, considering this is the second time I'm writing this because my laptop nuked the original, I may actually have a cooler head about this. Man, that first copy was BRUTAL! I mean, I really was going through some holiday low/depression.

But even though I've written about Snuggies and other stupid 'as-seen-on-tv' stuff I'm sure you wouldn't have bought me anyway, I think this one is the biggest one to avoid. Not only that but this is the most fitting blog post I could write leading into the last weekend before the Christmas Holidays because it's these last minute shopping outings that can lead you to finally giving in to buying these.


I have received many of them in the past and have been appreciative to the givers for them and have used them But let's get down to the basics on what a Gift Card is. It's giving someone money, only rather than shoving money into the persons hand, you shove the gift card there. When you give someone a gift card you are basically saying one of a few things;

A.) I don't know you, but I felt obligated to give you something
B.) I know you, but I don't know anything about you
C.) I like you but not enough to put any thought into what you like.

Now that we got it out of the way, a gift card is simply cash, so why not just cut out the middle man and give the person cash in an envelope? It will save you the time of waiting in line and going out to the store as well as save me time from going out. While technology has progressed and most gift cards can be used in the luxury of my own home in my underwear, there's still a lot of them that you need to go down to the store for anyway.

What you did was just give me a task of having to leave my home and go down to the store after Christmas and shop for myself. And what you might not think about is that POST Christmas shopping is actually worse than black Friday shopping. During black Friday shopping you have all the workers dealing with serving the customers. After Christmas you have them split into two groups, those who are working returns/go backs and those who are working the sales floor. It's a fight on two fronts and I don't want to be in the middle.

Hell, I haven't been to the mall this whole holiday season, I like to keep that streak going. It should also be mentioned that stores love them because they are interest free loans. So it's not just the banks that get the luxury of having a 0% interest loan in their hands. That money is now in their registers and generating interest for them.

The other problem with Gift Cards is when you get one that isn't worth much more than a 50% off coupon. Like if you give a $50 gift card to a jacket/suit store where the cheapest jacket/suit starts at $200. Yeah, thanks for that. It's like giving a girl a $25 dollar Tiffany's card. Yeah, Go wild, Hunn! I'm sure you can buy a box for a non-existent blood diamond.

What's even worse is those Visa credit card gift cards. Those lose value the second you hand over money for them as they have hidden fees and activation cost. Usually there's a monthly maintenance charge.. because you know maintaining an account is so costly. I bet they have employees set aside waiting by a phone to handle your personal care needs with your $25 gift card. I have had situations where I didn't find my gift cards till six months after as I saved it in a safe place... safe enough for me to forget about it.

Then again, gift cards to places that are universal in their products like Trader Joe's. But then again, this is the same as cash and is limiting me to only shopping at this store. One person justified gift cards as a means to feel irresponsible with your money. Say the person has to pay a lot of bills and doesn't usually splurge on themselves - By giving them a gift card instead of cash it forces them to buy themselves something nice.

In reality, Gift Cards seem to say that you don't trust people with the way they spend their own money. Well, that I'm actually responsible with my money and pay my bills on time, but that I shouldn't do this sort of thing. What if the person would rather get out of debt and pay their bills? Giving them cash would take a load off on the stress by allowing them to choose where they want to spend it.

I think the only time you should deal with gift cards is if you specifically want to give someone something that you can't pick out yourself. A suit or maybe underwear - But even then, why not just give them money so they have the freedom of choice in the matter. I may not like the suits from men's wear house, so if you give me a gift card there, I have no ability to shop around and get the best bang for my buck.

I can understand companies doing this for employees, but what if your parents give you a gift card? Well, considering my gift from last year from my folks, I guess something would be better than nothing, but still. What's that say about you? That they don't have any idea who you are and what you need in your life. I mean, there's always cookies..


Baked goods are a bad gift, a bad gift for me at least. I'm trying to lose the weight and cookies and baked goods are just not something I really dig as a gift. I have to admit though, it's not a terrible idea if you make them yourself and put it in a nice package for the person. But from my experience, it's far from a good presentation that I have received. You know those tins with sugar cookies in a few different shapes that are about $3.99 for the whole package? Yeah, I would get a couple of those on a paper plate with cellophane around it.

Yeah. After the second year I was purposely leaving those gifts at my grandparents because I'd rather not get the gift of a fat ass for Christmas, thank you very much. When I was younger I would get movie gift card passes. At least those never lose value as we are in California.. and oddly enough, I still have the one or two that I received still folded over that look like one of the dead sea scrolls.

In the long scheme of things, Baking isn't a bad thing. It's a gift that is personal and the whole fact is you put some thought into it. Say I didn't like Chocolate and you bake me Pumpkin related items, now you showed you at least remembered that I can bite into a pumpkin and love it. I guess it's just not the gift for me. Add to that, I don't bake and I just cook. So it's not something I really grasp all that well. But hey, it's still something you get as further proof that they don't know much about you.. or that you're just too hard to shop for...

You're Hard To Shop For.

I hate that statement. I think it's a sleeper agent secret code for me. My heart literally figuratively falls into my stomach the moment I hear that from someone. It is telling me that they don't know me. Or at least don't pay attention to me enough to see what I enjoy or what I'm about. I think it's only second behind the "I'm done with being wild and carefree and want to settle down" But that's a whole rant for a future blog.

I like to think that I'm easy to shop for. I don't see why I would be difficult to shop for anyway, I am a nerd and while I understand that buying me a comic book may be difficult because you may not know what I like or don't like, I would suggest you forget that entirely anyway. Comic books aren't like novels that come out about once every year or two. They come out weekly and unless I say I'm behind on a series, it's best to avoid that.

But even in that it tells you what I like. You see me with Batman shirts? Guess what I may like.. Batman. If there isn't a ton of things you can choose from with Batman somewhere in there, then I don't know how much easier it can be. Even with the argument that there's too many things to choose from, it's just a matter of narrowing it down what I may like with those other things in mind.

My sister once gave me plastic body parts. At the time and for many years after I thought it was a terrible gift. For the last few years I have openly talked about how it was one of the strangest and dumbest gifts I have ever received. Now that I look back on it, I was wrong. She is a strange person and her mindset was that I may like them. I didn't, but it still was the way she saw me and that gave me the best gift of all, her insight on how she saw me. It wasn't the worse gift and it was just a perfect example of what I think counts most about the gift giving situation..

It's The Thought That Counts.

I know it's a commonly stated cliche but it's entirely true. I mean it. It really is the thought that counts. Gift cards show very little thought. If you want to make it personal, why not ask "hey, what are you doing on ____day? Want to get some lunch and go to best buy?" This will allow you to spend some time with the person and just talk with them as well as make that impersonal gift card into an afternoon getting to know the gift giver/gift receiver.

If getting me something for the holidays is such a strain on you, then I'd rather not put you through that. I don't want you to stress out about what you're getting me. In fact, if it causes you even the slightest bit of stress, then I would rather you get me nothing and simply wish me a Merry Christmas Happy Holidays. Get me the gift that isn't too bad. The gift of Nothing. It's the most Metal gift possible.

I mean it. Why do I want you running around town stressed out as to what to get me. Think of all the people in your life one at a time. If you can't, within a few seconds of thinking of their name, think of a gift for them, perhaps you are better left to NOT get them something. If you think of my name and within a moment you can't think of something that I may like or even be of use to me, then perhaps you shouldn't get me anything and my gift to you is that you are free of the consumerist shackles of having to BUY BUY BUY!

Besides, I'm not even religious. The whole winter solstice already has a great enough gift. The gift of the sun still being up in the sky keeping us semi-warm. Especially with Global Warming nipping at our doornose, the fact that I'm warm is gift enough. And that is my take.. Scary enough, this is a far more civil version of what I first wrote. While it sucked to have been nuked before and to be more cliche, I suppose everything does happen for a reason...

Merry ChristConsumermas one and all.

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