unwanted-gift-cardsIt’s December! Snow! Winter! And three very cool weeks of holiday. Siiigh.

Of course, December also means Christmas. Which means good food (mmm), and parties (excellent), and spending time with family (hurrah). It also means, fortunately or unfortunately, gift season.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been given a gift that I absolutely hated, but then I’ve also been lucky to have friends and family who are, I think, eminently reasonable. Doesn’t fit? Here’s the gift receipt and exchange it. Don’t like it? We’re not offended – here’s the gift receipt and exchange it. Really don’t know what to give me? Gift cards are excellent, but dude, since you asked, give me cash any day.

Maybe it’s my Chinese heritage, but I don’t mind giving and receiving cash, especially when I have no idea what gifts would be appropriate, to ask for or to give. When it comes to giving gifts to younger relatives, I don’t think giving cash is tacky, and nor do I think receiving cash meant that the giver had no time to shop for me, or doesn’t care. In fact, cash is the default for many Chinese occasions (those red envelopes bring much joy to many a young Chinese heart), and when you think about it, cash is by far the most practical solution. It may not be the most emotionally thoughtful, but since it’s the thought that counts, why not give something that everyone can use?

So I sat up and cheered when I saw this article in the Toronto Star. In the article, Peggy Mackenzie outlines 8 excellent reasons to give cash instead of gift cards, particularly when it’s an adult giving to a child or teenager. Scenario #1: Your son receives five $20 gift cards to five different stores, but she hates stores A and B, and $20 isn’t enough to get what she really wants at stores C-E.  But what if she’d received 5 $20 bills? Then she can do what she wants, where she wants. And unlike some gift cards, cash never, ever goes out of date.

What do you think? Is giving cash to younger relatives/siblings totally tacky? Or is this something you do or would consider doing?

– Jean AAR