For the past several years, my daughters have been asking for gift cards for birthdays, Hanukkah, and all other gift-giving occasions. At first, I resisted. I had been taught that giving cash and gift cards was “tacky” and didn’t demonstrate the thoughtfulness and individuality that a gift required. After years of reluctantly buying gift cards I have come to realize that these cards can actually be the perfect gift – for my daughters and for me. Upon further reflection I have come to appreciate the value of gift cards for people of all ages, especially for older adults and their family caregivers.
Many older adults don’t need or want much and can become overwhelmed by more “stuff.” As people age they often want to shed, rather than acquire, possessions. Gift cards are clutter free and don’t take up a lot of space, making them the perfect gift for the elderly. This is particularly true for those who have downsized and are living in smaller quarters including assisted living facilities and nursing homes where space is limited. A gift card can also be particularly helpful to older adults living on fixed incomes. Receiving a gift card to a supermarket or restaurant can help relieve financial stress. In facilities, hairdresser and manicure gift certificates can also be a pleasant treat. Though buying a gift card does not take the time or investment of other gifts, they can be as thoughtful especially if you purchase cards that reflect the recipient’s interests and needs. In addition to gift cards to major chains you can purchase a gift certificate at local businesses, like restaurants and salons.
And, while gift cards and gift certificates can be the perfect gift for the recipient, they can also be the perfect gift for the gift giver. There never seems to be enough hours in the day for family caregivers. The stress of fitting everything in can be even more acute during the holidays. For many, the thought of finding any gift, never mind the perfect gift, seems impossible with the responsibilities of family caregiving, household chores, appointments, and family and work obligations. The time and energy required to select, purchase, carry home and wrap gifts may be too much for family caregivers. But buying gift cards is hassle free and can be taken care of last minute –which is good for those of you reading this blog today, right before Christmas and Hanukkah. You can purchase gift cards for a wide range of stores and services at supermarkets, retailers and convenience stores. Purchasing cards for specified amounts can be helpful in sticking to a budget. And, when you buy a gift card you don’t need to worry if it is the right size or color, and getting it home is as simple as putting it in your pocket.
For those who still feel that gift cards are not personal enough I have two suggestions of how to make them more thoughtful. When giving a gift card, include a personalized note letting the recipient know how much you appreciate them and why you chose the gift card you did. To make the gift even more special, offer to take the recipient to redeem it. Spending time together will make your perfect gift priceless.