You are definitely not alone if you plan to give gift cards to some folks this Christmas. In fact, CEB Towergroup estimates nearly 85% of all Americans will either buy or receive a gift card this year. Just make sure you consider the recipient before you chose to gift-wrap some yuletide plastic. In 2012 Americans spent $110 billion on gift cards. If you laid all those gift cards edge to edge they'd cover all 32 NFL football field eighty-two times!
Some people love gift cards, and some people loath them. You are miles ahead if you can determine if your loved one is a giftcard lover or loather before you hit the mall.
More from YourTango: Get Financially-Savvy (& Save Your Relationship!) With The 3 T's
Here's a sampling of people that love a little holiday plastic and a few who you'd better bust out the shopping bags for a more unique Christmas gift idea.
The Returner—Yes! Ever notice your friend never wore that cool scarf you gave her for Christmas or you don't see the mind-binder puzzle on your boss's desk? They may be returners. They return almost all gifts in exchange for the exact item they prefer.The returners greatly appreciate a gift card so they may pick their own neck warmers and office décor.
The Repeater—Yes! Does your mother-in-law's coupé have a "This car stops at all Nordstroms" bumper sticker? Then she's a repeater. Anyone on your list who is wild about one particular store is perfect for a gift card. Whether it's the Apple store, Texas Roadhouse, Amazon or The Home Depot, the repeater loves the freedom to snag another gem at their favorite place.
The Base Jumper—No! Does your loved one crave adventure and all things new and dangerous? If yes, avoid a gift card for this hearty soul. The Base Jumper will view the gift card as boring and uninspired. Save the plastic for your less adventurous friends and family.
The Penny Pincher—Yes! Everyone has a friend who hates to spend money, even when there are candles in the window and carols at the spinet. The Penny Pincher is the perfect person for gift carding. Buy the card online at a discount and they’ll be doubly pleased.
The Penny Pincher appreciates the ability to get an economical gift or two—at an after-Christmas sale where they may celebrate the season AND savings.
The Sap—No! Do you have a friend who buys you an ornament at Christmas symbolizing some big event that occurred in your life that year? Or an aunt who must start months in advance to knit all of your kids totally adorable hats or fingerless mittens? Or a spouse who carefully wraps a spectacular item you casually mentioned last summer and had forgotten about? Gift cards are not for these folks! The Sap is that precious person whose gifts to us always elicit an "Ahhhwwww!" when we open them. Forget practicality, gift cards seem impersonal to such a sentimental soul.
Even Santa would agree, gift cards are not all naughty or all nice. It all depends on the receiver.
Have a very Merry Christmas!
More from YourTango: Ready, Set, GO!: Holiday Shopping On A Budget
For More Unique Christmas Gift Ideas From YourTango: