More and more, the gift card is emerging as a popular way of telling someone you care for them this season, by providing them with a license to shop. Some feel they're impersonal or lazy, but if you're drawing blanks in the idea department, or have someone who's difficult to buy for, they fill the void.
For me, the trick is to also give something small, personal and/or homemade with the gift card - mix CDs, jewellery, etc.
In the old days, you gave paper certificates in a plain envelope. Now, gift card presentations run the spectrum, from a cash register receipt straight from the till (Body Shop) to a debit card encased in a compact encased in a box encased in a satiny bag (Sephora). We're nearing the point where unwrapping a gift card will require more effort than the large present your loved one spent 20 minutes fussing over.
As presentation grows fancier, a gaze into the Warehouse crystal ball shows many possibilities for retailers to pep up their gift cards...
Tim Horton's - comes in a miniature coffee can, or a folded into a mug the size of novelty machine plastic football helmets.
IKEA - card is a mini-instruction sheet on how to assemble the GIIFT case it fits in.
LCBO - card comes with a case containing a folded mini-wine rack designed to hold the mini bottles of spirits found by the cashier.
Old Navy - comes in a mini-shirt that shrinks or falls apart when you try to remove the card.
Indigo - comes in a hollowed-out book, personally chosen by Heather.
Future Shop - comes in a case resembling a Palm Pilot. Also inside the case is a miniature sales associate clone, to look over your shoulder and ask if you need assistance 12 times while you shop.
General Motors - comes in a scale-size classic car. Sitting in the front seat is a miniature sales associate clone, pleading with you to buy a North American vehicle.
Hudson's Bay Company - comes wrapped in a miniature Bay blanket.
Lick's - case shaped like a burger, with the card as the patty. Open the case, hear the vocal prowness of Lick's employees.
Food Basics - comes in a case made from a section of typically dirty store floor. Dusted with corn meal or spilled flour. Scratch n' sniff feature on card comes in feeble fruit, mangy meat or smashed jam jar scents. - JB