At Christmas time, people become very divided on the issue of gift cards. One group of people love them for their quickness and ease of purchase. Those same people probably love to receive them as well and shop happily for themselves, selecting the exact item that they want. The other group of people see it as completely impersonal, the lack of thought required defeating the purpose of giving a gift.
Though there is some validity to both sides of the argument, gift cards do provide a great option for families who would like to cut back on the amount of tangible ‘stuff’ that is given and received at Christmas. Toys can be overwhelming. Gift cards can be more than an ‘easy out’, they can also be an invitation to share in an experience at a later date. Here are some of our suggestions:
A Tim’s GC is a quick and easy way to say thank you to an adult, but for a child this can be a much bigger adventure. Something as simple as a $5 card allows for two outings for a spontaneous treat. Hot chocolate and a donut? You’ll have to look hard for a kid who wouldn’t want that, from toddler to teenager. A coffee date with your kid is a great opportunity for a little one-on-one time, allowing them to pay makes them feel grown up and special. Tuck one of these in their stocking and schedule an hour over the Christmas holidays where the two of you can get a cup of cheer. Maybe they’ll even splurge on your coffee.
Children love hanging out at the library, which is why many book stores have adopted a similar ‘hands on’ philosophy in the kids section. Touch. Read. Look. Play. And Mom, break out that wallet and pay. Or not! A book store is another one of my favourite places to let my children take time and explore. New authors, new stories, new doors opening to their imagination. I have a hard time saying no to a new book, so a GC is a win-win for all of us. A kid in a candy store has nothing on one of my kids in a book store, and allowing them to make their own choices is a great way to encourage that love of reading.
If you have any sort of iPad/iPod/iPhone then you probably already know the value of an iTunes GC. While it is easy to stick to those free kids apps, sometimes it is nice to be able to drop a little money on the ones you have to pay for. Music is also a great iTunes purchase or a couple of episodes of their favourite cartoon for those long car rides or endless waiting room waits. Give them the GC as a gift or use it yourself and wrap a bow around the iPod as a hint of where to find their gift.
Another family favourite! Places like Palasad and Fleetway can make for a great family day out. Go there for lunch or dinner and let the kids use the GC in the arcade section afterward. $5-10 can go a long way and you’ll have tons of fun while you use it! A bigger gift card can be put towards bowling with a friend, a game of pool or even ice cream while you watch the snow fall.
Frozen yogurt, ice cream, chocolate stores, bulk stores… pretty much any place that sends your children into pleading, drooling sugar-crazed little humans. With a $5 GC they can indulge in that sugar rush and when they ask for seconds, you can tell them to ask the Easter Bunny for another card.
Yes, this is going to bring more ‘stuff’ into your home, but in the name of letting your kid express their own style, it can be worth it. From sunglasses, earrings, socks, purses, lip gloss, and their favourite pop idol’s paraphernalia, half the fun is trying everything on and exploring the store. Make sure you’re not rushed for time and try on some funky glasses while they search.
Now this one may seem a little bit out there, but most kids have some favourite foods that you either can’t stand the thought of spending money on or can’t stand the thought of them eating. For once, take them to the grocery store and let them choose what they want. Kraft Dinner, Spaghettios, Oreos and bubble gum ice cream for everyone! Let them use their own cart and their own bag to pack their groceries to complete the experience.