Save Time, Just Give Cash…Or Not

If you want to reduce your holiday gift giving stress this season, imagine going to the extreme and giving everyone on your list the gift of cash. You could withdraw money from an ATM, put a few bills in some envelopes, hand them out and you are done, done, done! The recipient could then take the cash and buy whatever she wanted or needed.

From an economic point of view, it would certainly be more efficient—no unwanted gifts; no returns to retail stores; and the precise amount of money you were hoping to spend on a gift could be achieved—down to the penny! You would save yourself tons of time and effort and I suppose if you put the cash in envelopes vs. in gift boxes adorned with festive wrapping paper, you could help reduce environmental waste as well.

So if exchanging gifts of cash makes economic sense and would certainly be easier, why don’t we all do this? Forget cash, why not just exchange gift cards with everyone on your holiday gift list? After all, gift cards act as a substitute for cash (admittedly, cash for a specific store.)

My belief is that exclusively giving cash (or gift cards) to everyone on your list robs you and the recipients with the many intangibles of gift giving. You don’t have the fun of thinking about the gift recipient and her unique preferences; you’ve relinquished the joy of delighting someone you love with a great gift chosen specifically for her; and there’s little chance a cash gift will bring you and the recipient closer, never mind make a lasting memory. There’s not even that element of surprise when the gift recipient says, “I wonder what it could be…”

Giving gifts of cash or gift cards can save you time & reduce your stress. But I believe you miss out on so much more.

(For tips on how to transform generic gifts into gifts with personality, click here.)

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