Gift giving in today’s world |

Gift giving in today’s world

My friend Rob Tramazzo recently posed a question on his Facebook page about gift giving, and it had me thinking.

He asked, “Settle an argument for me. Gift card = thoughtful gift to allow people to get what they want or lazy way of shopping that ruins the idea of gift giving?”

Excellent question, Rob.

The Christmas post was a popular one. There were nearly 30 comments from all over the country, including Glenwood Springs and states including Florida, Texas, Indiana and Massachusetts.

Facebook is powerful like that.

Many people responded that this popular form of gift giving is thoughtful. Mostly because it allows recipients to choose gifts they prefer. One comment I agreed with was gift cards work, depending on who they are given to, specifically spouses.

“Husband to wife, never. To me it says you don’t have a clue who she is.”

I know a few wives who might be OK with a Tiffany & Co. gift card.

I liked one comment that made a lot of sense to me. To paraphrase, the comment said that gift cards work best when wrapped thoughtfully. The commenter gave an example of giving a home improvement gift card in a fishbowl with gravel to a friend who wanted to build a fish tank stand. She also provided an idea for giving a spa gift card in a basket with an eye mask and robe.

I also know many wives who would appreciate that gift.

My former roommate Shana Miller, of Glenwood, said she loves gift cards, especially when specific to her. She gave the example of her parents’ annual Christmas gift of a bookstore card in her stocking. The gift is thoughtful because she enjoys to read. I know my best friend in Indiana would love a Kindle gift card because she reads books as fast as she can download them. I can think of at least 10 people who would feel the same about an iTunes gift card for music and gaming. Or a gift card to the Apple store.

The possibilities are endless, really.

For those with large Christmas shopping lists, gift cards seem like a huge stress-reliever. I have a small family and list of gifts to buy, so a lot of times I like to mix it up with gift cards and homemade presents. A few years ago, I whipped up a big batch of homemade, all-natural hand scrubs for the women in my life, packaged in short mason jars with personalized labels. I made lemon sugar and vanilla brown sugar for the kitchen and salted watermelon and peppermint for the shower.

They were as fun to make, and smell, as they were to give.

That year I was feeling especially crafty, so I also handmade coasters for my grandpa and my brother that were specific to their personalities. I originally saw the idea on Pinterest, one of my favorite social media platforms and a dream come true for do-it-yourselfers like me. I would spend 24 hours a day on Pinterest if I could.

OK, maybe just a couple hours is sufficient.

The coasters were easy to craft. I just bought eight 4-inch by 4-inch ceramic tiles from a home improvement store, some pieces of felt for the bottom, spray glue and shellac. Then I printed out eight album covers at 4-by-4 off the Internet, cut them out, glued them on and sprayed with the protective coating. My brother was on the receiving end of four AC/DC covers, including “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You).” I bought that actual vinyl record for him in 1981, when it first came out, for Christmas when he was 13 years old.

He always knew how to rock.

My grandpa’s coasters were covers of Big Band music albums including the Andrews Sisters and Glen Miller. He was a World War II veteran, so this music was always his favorite, second to country. After losing him four months after gifting those coasters, which will remain in my family, they really mean a lot to me. Especially because the coasters were one of the last homemade gifts I was able to give him. They hold extreme sentimental value, and I guess that is one way to answer Rob’s question about gift cards versus traditional gifts. I doubt if I would feel the same about a gift card my grandpa didn’t have the chance to use than I do about the nearly-new coasters he had on his coffee table. The thought definitely counted.

And he knew it.

April E. Clark is planning a few homemade surprises for the people on her Christmas list this year. She can be reached at

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