Mid-Week Tangent: Gift Cards are Not Impersonal Christmas Gifts

Let’s talk more about Christmas gifts, shall we? Last week I wrote about great stocking stuffers for the active and outdoorsy, but what about bigger gifts? What do you get the outdoor enthusiast who has almost everything and who happens to be picky? Let me tell you what: gift cards.

Some of you are likely recoiling in horror, aghast at the thought of a horribly impersonal gift card.  I promise you, unless you are blessed with a friend, family member or loved one who provides you with exact specifications for his or her gear needs, gift cards will not only make things easier for you but will also make them infinitely happier.

Here’s a list of things I often want but which I also want to pick out for myself: running shoes, trail runners, base layers, jackets, running tights, workout tops.  See? That’s a long list of items that could cause my loved ones a lot of stress. Even worse, half the time I don’t know the style or colour I want, nor what fits right.  Long story short, I want a gift card.

Still not convinced? Here’s some other reasons that gift cards are wonderful gifts:

  • Sizes are unpredictable: Shoes are the worst for this. I once went through a streak of buying Saucony runners year after year because they were the absolutely perfect shoe for me. Then one year, suddenly and without warning, the new version was narrower and smaller fitting. Uncool, Saucony. The same thing happens all the time with sizing for running pants and shirts.  You cannot always predict that the product you’re used to will stay the same.
  • Outdoorsy and highly active people tend to be incredibly picky: Half the time I need to wander in a store many, many, MANY times before landing on the gear that I want.  Even worse,  sometimes I find the perfect {insert item here} only to find that two weeks later I no longer love the way it looks, fits or functions. Better that I’m mad at myself for picking out something I don’t love rather than resenting you for giving me a bad gift.
  • Gift buyers can assume different brands are the same: Chances are, if I go to the trouble of asking for a specific brand for an item, it’s because I’ve researched it and have decided that brand is the best option for me. But, since there are tons of brands out there, it can be easy for a gift buyer to draw a dangerous conclusion that brands are all the same.
  • Exchanging and returning gifts is annoying: In all likelihood, exchanges or returns are in order when I receive gear from others. Let me tell you, I hate returning things. I hate having to stand in line just to get my money back. I also have to wait for Boxing Day madness to die down before I even attempt the return. Sometimes, I am so lazy that I just keep things forever, even though I don’t want them. And don’t even get me started on not providing gift receipts!
  • Some people (ahem, me) are not good at saying they don’t like things: Despite evidence to the contrary in my writing style, I was raised with good manners and also in a household that encouraged people-pleasing. As a result, I struggle to say I don’t like things. Over the years, I’ve held on to many a gift because it was from someone I valued so much that I didn’t want that person to feel as though it wasn’t the perfect gift. Don’t do that to your loved ones. Give them the greatest gift, the gift of choice.

If I have not yet convinced you to join the pro-gift card train, not only are you stubborn but I also worry you may let down your outdoorsy and active loved ones at Christmas.  Why would you do that? Why?

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