Make Sure Gift Cards Are Used by Making Them Yourself

Scary Story Time: You’re giving someone a thoughtful gift certificate, perhaps for a spa massage they looked at, or an art lesson they said they’d like to take. Spread out the cash, give them the card. They love it! They are grateful to you. And then they don’t use it.

I was on both sides of this terrible show, and both sides are bad . The giver feels frustrated that he has spent money that is not being used; the recipient feels guilty for not showing enough enthusiasm, organization, courage, or anything else to take advantage of the gift. Of course, the point in giving gifts is to give , but could it be less wasteful?

Yes! Take inspiration from the time-honored tradition of drawing coupons, but instead of “one free hug,” write out a coupon for an item you’d buy a gift certificate for. “Good for one drawing lesson” or “Good for one massage (from a professional I’ll pay for).”

This works best with close friends and loved ones – your husband is more likely to say, “Hey, I found a cooking lesson I want to write down,” than your coworker – but these are the people with whom you will usually be wary of using your thoughtful and generous gift anyway. Thus, the gift will remain thoughtful, but nothing will be wasted.


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