It's that time of year when we are compiling holiday-shopping lists for everyone in our lives and undoubtedly we come to a roadblock in figuring out what gift to get that certain "difficult" person on our lists. We've exhausted all options, mainly because our brains hurt from trying to come up with a great gift idea, and inevitably we settle for something that's "easy."
And with all the incredible post-Thanksgiving sales going on and the big lure of retailers this season offering incredible deals for 50 to 70 percent off on select clothing items, the temptation to pick up something "easy" might spell C-L-O-T-H-I-N-G for some. And you say to yourself, "Hey! That's perfect!" You figure that once you know someone's size and likes (if even that), that clothing can be a quick-go-to-gift-idea. But the big question is, "Clothing or not?"
Clothing of Past
My advice: "NO!" Don't buy clothing as a gift…at least tangible clothing. Tangible clothing, you ask? Bear with me…
I personally don't like receiving clothing as a gift, mainly because of my childhood.
As a kid growing up, I attended many family holiday gatherings in which dozens of relatives would be present, and without fail, they would (as I grew older, I realized that my female relatives were the ones behind all the gift buying) would give me random clothing as gifts. And when I say random, that's exactly what they were. I'm talking about quilted scarves (who buys a kid a quilted scarf that's 200 miles long?!), sequined jackets that were quadruple my size, holiday-themed socks and sweaters, bejeweled velvet dresses and button-down blouses that came in hideous hues such as lime green and peach that were typically fringed and patch-worked. Some of these items still had the tags on them; numerous ones had the red-discounted price tag ranging from $4 to $9.98! (Disclaimer: not ALL my relatives gave me such cheap, tacky presents, but a lot of the "twice-removed-variety" sure did.)
I literally had years worth, and a considerable accumulated pile, of random clothing, of which, I didn't use at all, or didnt have the heart to re-gift to anyone I knew. So eventually the pile made it to a local clothing drive, where, hopefully, someone found the need for a lime-greened, fringed blouse.
I figured that over the years, my relatives must've spent a decent amount of money, just for the sake of saying that they "got" me something "special" for the holidays. Yet, every time I was handed a gift at these gatherings, I would dread what ghastly fabric I would unearth, but what I dreaded the most, was the fake enthusiasm I would have to muster up, to save my face and spare the feelings of my relatives.
What was really depressing about the whole incident was the way those presents made me feel. I honestly felt insulted and disappointed that my relatives would give me a gift, so far removed from my personality, likes or even size! To me, those gifts were so impersonal, that my feelings would've been spared if they didn't give me anything at all.
So, ever since a child, I vowed that I would never get anyone a gift just for the sake of getting them something, and least of all, I vowed that I would never get someone clothing as a gift, because to me, clothing always represented a last minute, random, impersonal gift. At least the tangible kind.
Those tangible pieces of clothing my relatives gave me were horrendous, but if they had taken the time to invest in a gift card, my attitude would've been completely different.
Repeat After Me…"The Gift Card Is My Friend!"
Opt for a gift card instead of going to a store and picking up the first random article of clothing that is on sale and because you like it and think it would look cute on so-and-so. In a way, you'll be buying that person on your list clothing, but just not the tangible kind.
The gift card has an infamous reputation as being an impersonal and tacky gift idea, but for me, a tacky and impersonal gift is one that is purchased with the "I have to get them something!" mentality.
Gift cards are the perfect solution to ensuring no one will have to fake enthusiasm this holiday season when they open your gift.
Gift cards allow the giftee to buy exactly what they want from a favorite store of theirs. Personally, I don't see anything wrong, impersonal or tacky in empowering someone with the means to buy something they like, from a store they like. That's just me. Heck, I would rather receive money so I can go out and get what I want, or use that money for something else I really need to take care of, such as bills than receive another themed, over-sized holiday sweater!
People will appreciate the fact that you remembered what their favorite clothing store is, which restaurant they eat at every week, which coffee joint they drive to every morning and which is their favorite bookstore to browse through when you buy them a gift card to such places. Gift cards are thoughtful and practical gift ideas for anyone on your list.
Plastic Dos and Don'ts
If you are smart, follow my advice and decide that a gift card is the best way to go than spending hours rummaging around for clothing this year, here are some pointers:
- DO! make sure to purchase gift cards of significant value, for the significant people in your life. This is not the time to get a $5 gift card for your brother or sister. You might as well just slip them the real thing when you see them.
- DON'T! buy random gift cards. Just as with tangible clothing, don't purchase gift cards to stores that your giftee will never go to. Try to match the gift cards to the person, i.e., if you have a foodie on your list, it wouldn't be a bad idea to get them a couple different cards to a few of their favorite restaurants. They'll definitely be thinking of you at their meal away from home!
- DO! stagger your gift card options. Instead of putting a significant amount of money on one card, to only one store, how about buying a few different cards, to different stores. Rather than a $100 gift card to one clothing store your giftee likes, buy two gift cards at $50 each, to two of their favorite stores. It's like getting two different gifts!
- DON'T! forget to read the fine print about those gift cards you'll be buying. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offers advice for buying, giving, and using gift cards, ensuring that the gift you give won't end up being a hassle to the one you love.
So, the bottom line: if you really want to buy someone a clothing item as a present, here's the ONLY
exception I'm okay with: unless you are led by the hand, by the giftee (the person you are buying the gift for), to the particular clothing item that they want in the store (or if the giftee points it out to you online, or in an ad or catalogue), and they look you in the eye and point to the item saying, "I WANT THIS ARTICLE OF CLOTHING! I LOVE IT! BUY IT FOR ME PLEASE!" THEN, AND ONLY THEN, should you consider buying someone tangible clothing as a gift. If that scenario doesn't happen, then this should be your mantra, "I'd like to purchase a gift card please!" That way you can buy them clothing…but not the tangible kind.
Got that? Great!