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Every year, I put as much thought as possible into gifts for my friends and family. For many years I had a strict rule that a gift card could be part of a gift, but it couldn’t be the bulk of a gift. To me, gift cards were a cop out and not a very thoughtful gift.

Then I became a mom to teenagers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my teenage boys. But they are at that age where they already have the latest and greatest gadgets, which should last many years — so no need to update them every holiday season. They love the knick-knacks, but there’s only so much shelf space for Pop figures. And who wants a pile of shelf warmers as their only gifts?

So this is the year of gift cards.

This year I am looking at gift cards in a whole new way. What was once seen as a thoughtless, last-minute gift is now something that is really meaningful. Something I am excited for them to open. I’ve put a lot of thought into these gift card gifts and have realized they are the perfect present for the “hard to buy for” people on my list. Here’s why.

They ARE thoughtful!

One of my sons LOVES Boston Burger Company.  I mean, those shakes are pretty amazing. But we don’t go often because it isn’t really close to us. Giving him a gift card for that restaurant is actually super thoughtful. It means he can go with friends or ask us to take him, and it is a guarantee that we will go.  

My sister enjoys trips to Target solo. So, why not give her a Target gift card and a “coupon” that she can cash in for me to babysit her children? When gift cards are given with some reasoning and thoughtfulness behind them, they make the perfect gift.

There’s less STUFF.

I love the idea of giving experiences rather than “stuff.” Gift cards make that happen. A gift certificate to an escape room, or to one of the really cool activities in Boston for teens, is a perfect gift. Not only will they look forward to going, it also balances your need for time with them and their need for entertainment.

Even adults would love a good experience gift card. My mom had always wanted to stay at the Mount Washington Resort, so I purchased a gift card for her last year to use there. She was able to experience something she would not have done on her own!

It’s what people WANT.

When searching for the perfect gift, you have to go through about a thousand questions. What size are they? Do they like long- or short-sleeved dresses? What books do they already have? Are they allergic to any lotions? And after all that thought, you still grab the one really cool jacket that your brother also purchased for them. A gift card with a note sharing some fun ideas about how to spend it can relieve the need for polite smiles and thank yous.

Take a look at your holiday gifting lists and narrow in on those hard-to-purchase-for people. Put some thought into what they would REALLY like, and just buy the gift card!

Michelle Mady
Michelle is a lifelong New Englander who lives in Stoneham and works in Charlestown. She is a preschool teacher and Assistant Director at a small private preschool and holds a master’s degree in early childhood education, which has come in useful at both work and home. She has a supportive stay-at-home-dad for a husband and is a mom of five children. She has three boys born in 2005, 2007 and 2008, plus two girls born in 2012 and 2015. Michelle teaches infant and toddler classes for early education teachers and is an adjunct professor for The School Of Mom. She also runs her own business, The Parenting Survival Expert, offering parenting tips and support. In her spare time, she can be found reading a murder mystery novel, sipping far too much coffee, and dreaming of a home in the mountains.