No, this post is not an environmental plug. It's Christmas time, and people are wondering what to give each other for Christmas. If there's someone on the list who's notoriously hard to get gifts for - they have everything, they give no input, they have strange tastes, whatever the reason - then I suggest going green. Give the gift that folds - cash. Gift cards, in my opinion, have a tendency to say one of two things to me: "I have no idea what to give you, but I hate to admit that so I bought you this card" or "I expect you to buy your gift at THIS store." Either way, it's giving money that's assigned. I've used gift cards, so I'm not offended when people give them to me, but it doesn't make me feel any more (or less) loved that cash. When my wife and I got married, a lot of people from my hometown hated to give us gifts that we had to ship to where we lived (or hated to have them shipped and something going wrong). We told them that my wife wanted a sewing machine, so they could contribute to our fund for it. We got a lot more cash gifts than items or gift cards, and we got a very nice sewing machine (check out its handiwork on my wife's blog - attachedparent.blogspot.com).
One more reason to give cash over cards? According to several reports in the news and on talk radio, last year, Americans failed to use $8 Billion in gift cards, giving free revenue to corporations. If the card gets lost, if it expires, or if it is for a place inconvenient to the recipient, then it may go unused. Cash is good anywhere (last I checked) and therefore won't be so easily misplaced or unused. So, to sum up, give the gift that everyone will love the most, share some Ben Franklin, Ulysses Grant, Andrew Jackson Abraham Lincoln, or George Washington framed pictures with those you love.