The perfect gift would be remembering that special, one-of-a-kind expensive item she picked out eight months ago, that you forgot about as soon as you passed the shop window. Those gifts just don’t happen.
Gift giving is hard. Wrapping is a pain. But it still makes you feel pretty good when the receiver appreciates your thought and you nail it.
Today, the easy gift is a gift card. It says, “Hey I know you would like something from this store but I couldn’t figure it out.” It's not straight up money, so it will go towards a gift instead of bills. It’s a little limiting though. It’s like saying. “Here’s some money, but you can only spend it here and it has to be in the next 12 months.” That’s right. Just like most rebate forms don’t get mailed in by consumers, retailers count on people forgetting about their gift cards – so they expire.
So maybe just giving cash would be better, but that says “It wasn’t worth my time to go to a store, let alone think of a gift for you, so here’s some cash. Enjoy.”
But that’s not the laziest. A check is even lazier. That says “It wasn’t worth my time to think of a gift, go to a store, or visit a bank, so here’s a check. You go to the bank and get the money, then go to the store and pick something nice out for yourself. Yeah, I could have gone to an ATM, but my bank is miles from here and the ATM at the grocery store charges a fee. You’re worth 25 bucks, but not 26.50.”
If you opted for the check, you might as well take it one step down. Mail the check. Now you’re saying “It wasn’t worth my time to think of a gift, go to a store, go to the bank, pay the foreign ATM fee or spend time with you, let alone a thought. It’s your birthday but I’m really busy, so I just mailed it to you. Probably late. Maybe your postal carrier can celebrate with you because I don’t have the time.”
I guess if you’re mad at the recipient, don’t sign the check. Then they need to bring it to you first, before heading to the bank (probably for a second time). But that would also mean you would have to see them, which you were probably trying to avoid by mailing the check in the first place. Your call.