However, while we may be practicing physical distancing during the next month, it doesn’t mean we have to feel completely isolated. Technology is helping us stay virtually connected with each other. Over the last few weeks, we have been getting creative with digital resources to stay in touch and foster meaningful connections during the time of COVID-19.
Instead of conference calls, we’ve been hopping on Zoom video conferences to log valuable and missed face time with colleagues we can’t see in the office. During the day, our kids have been using Zoom to attend virtual classes and to see their friends and teachers. It’s keeping us connected with larger groups despite the circumstances.
After work, we’ve been missing movie nights with our friends and family, so we’ve been relying on Google Chrome’s new Netflix Party feature for virtual, long-distance nights on the couch together. It’s fun to chat throughout the movie and is the perfect weekend isolation activity, if you ask us!
In between everything, we’ve been sending both funny and sentimental GiftCast video messages and cash gifts to friends and family, especially those whose birthdays we may be missing, those who may be out of work and financially struggling and those who could use a little pick-me-up. It’s perfect for getting in some face time with an added gift your loved one can choose how to spend. Plus, recipients can keep those video messages forever, creating virtual memories that keep on giving for years to come.
Where there is a will to stay connected safely from home, technology has a way right now.
How are you staying in touch during isolation? Head to our social channels and let us know!
By: Janice Ivy
Every school year it’s the same thing. The class mom sends out a list of the teacher’s likes for gift ideas so we can show them how much we appreciate them. It’s usually a bunch of stores that we can choose a gift card from. We go to Target to pick out a greeting card, a Starbucks gift card, and maybe add a candle or chocolates. Then throw it in a gift bag for the kids to take to school. I don’t think it stands out or makes a lasting impression for the teacher, or even touches upon how much we (and our kids) appreciate all the hard work and dedication they have to shaping young minds. These are the people we rely on every day to prepare our children for college and their future lives. It was important for us to show that appreciation in a different way. A way that they would remember forever.
That’s why this year we had our kids send their teachers a GiftCast. It was amazing. Our kids created their own personal video telling their teacher how thankful they were for them and what they liked best about their class. My daughter used her video to explain how great it was that her teacher took extra time to help her with her reading comprehension and that she is the reason she wants to be a teacher when she grows up. My son let his teacher know how much he liked math and technology, but asked for less homework. It was very sweet and funny at the same time. I’m sure their teachers will cherish it forever.
With the GiftCast app, we were able to send a cash gift along with the video. Their teachers can spend the money anyway they want because it goes directly in their bank account. I spend the same amount I would normally, but the teachers get the addition of a special message from a student to watch again and again, and share with colleagues. The teachers were so thrilled and said that GiftCast will be on their list of gift ideas for years to come.
By: George Mehlem
My brother is so hard to shop for. I never know what to get him for his birthday. Every year I search on Google for the most innovative gift or top gifts this year for the man who has everything. Last year I got him a box of gourmet coffees only to find out he had stopped drinking coffee a few months earlier. Truly frustrating!
This year I wanted to do something original that I knew he would like and of course didn’t already have. A little background, my brother is the Godfather to my 2-year old daughter and she thinks he is the greatest person on the planet. So, what did I do for the man who has everything? I sent him a GiftCast of my daughter singing him happy birthday. It’s probably the sweetest thing anyone has ever seen. I recorded the video of her and added some money. This way he gets the amazing video and can also shop for something he doesn’t have. That’s because I attach a cash gift, like Venmo or Zelle. He withdraws the cash to his bank account and can use it for anything he wants…other than coffee of course.
The GiftCast video was a hit! He and his wife couldn’t stop watching it. He called to tell me that he had watched it close to 50 times and that it was the best gift he has ever received. He even texted me the following day to tell me how happy it made him. That felt really good to hear and also knowing he will have it forever makes it so much better. GiftCast really is the gift that keeps on giving!
By: George Mack
I don’t know about you but my daughter loves to watch videos. She could watch Moana or Sing on repeat for days, she gets excited for Facetime with grandma and her cousins and loves watch videos of herself and her friends on the phone even more.
We go to birthday parties for her friends all the time and buying random gifts for every party is tough. Meanwhile I know how many duplicate gifts get brought to every party. Parents have to do gift returns, and on the downside everybody winds up with too much too much clutter that never gets played with in our homes. How much stuff do kids need?
Enter, GiftCast! Children can be so creative and getting them excited to go to a birthday party can be as much fun as the birthday party itself. Making a GiftCast with my daughter singing happy birthday or doing a dance to her favorite song is so fun and makes the birthday girl or boy feel really special. With the cash functionality of GiftCast the money can be used however parents see fit, they can buy the thing the child forgot to ask for or to go on an adventure. Giving a thoughtful money gift allows parents some control over presents.
For our upcoming 4th birthday party I’m going to let guests know that a GiftCast is a great way to go.
By: Tim Campbell
I don’t know about you, but my fall back gift to almost everyone used to be a gift card. It’s fast and easy. It doesn’t require too much thought either. If a birthday was coming up, then I would head to Target or Walgreens and stand in front of the kiosk that has a bunch of different gift cards. There are tons of different stores and restaurants to choose from. In fact, sometimes I feel like it takes forever to choose which one to get. If I can’t choose, then I’ll just get the Visa card and pay the ridiculous $5.99 fee for no reason.
The problem is I never feel satisfied with a gift card as a gift. It doesn’t show that I care enough about my friend or family member. And I bet they know it when they get it. I also wonder if they even use it. My junk drawer is full of gift cards that I have never used. Either because I don’t like the store or restaurant, or I just forget to take it with me. I feel like this must be the same thing other people go through. Right? Why do we do that?
That's why we created GiftCast. It’s like a gift card, but different. You record or upload a video and send money with it. The first GiftCast I sent was to my friend who was turning 40, but I couldn’t make it to her birthday party because she lives on the other side of the country. I was able to tell her in my own words (not some fluff in a greeting card) that I truly care for her and how sad I was to not be there to celebrate with her. My kids were also in the video and they sang happy birthday to her. Sometimes a greeting card just doesn’t say exactly what you want to say, and this special occasion deserved more from me. I felt really good about it. Plus, I gave her money that she can spend on anything she wants. Not some restaurant or store that she may never go to. The money goes directly into her bank account.
My friend loved the video and now, she can watch it over and over, and keep it forever. It felt so great to give a gift that my friend loved…and I loved giving it.
By Mandy Teng
I’m very good at remembering birthdays and special occasions for my friends and family. Or even those gifts just because I want to let someone know I’m thinking about them. I never really considered how much I was spending until this last weekend at Target. Usually I’m buying other stuff like groceries or clothes for my kiddos which distracts me from looking too closely.
However, on this last visit I was only buying a birthday gift for a kid in my son’s class. I don’t go overboard with kid’s gifts and not really sure what the correct protocol is for what to buy. I like to get a greeting card, a gift bag, and either a toy or gift card. But I was shocked by the amount I actually spent! This was just a $30 toy, but I spent almost $50 total on it. The greeting card, tissue paper, and bag will go straight to the trash heap. I always get the gift receipt so they can return it. But they only return the toy, so the card and bag are not included in what they think I actually spent.
This is what my most recent gift cost:
Greeting card: $6.99
Gift Bag: $4.50
Tissue paper: $2.99
Then I looked back at what I actually spent the last time I bought a gift card for a friend’s birthday. Again, I was really surprised! Giving a gift card comes with baggage that's similar to a traditional gift. For starters, did you know that there is a built-in cost on top of the face value? You pay a fee just for the privilege. Then you have to do something to make it look like a gift, you don't just hand someone a gift card and say "congratulations". You have to deliver it inside of something for presentation sake, so you're off to the greeting card aisle to spend time and money on a little house for your gift card to live in. The fact that a greeting card will become trash in a matter of hours doesn't make me feel good environmentally speaking either. It’s crazy to me because I’m essentially giving them a gift card. But for $50 I end up spending a whole lot more.
The gift cost breaks down like this:
Greeting card: $7.99
Target Visa gift card: $50.00
Gift card fee: $5.00
In conclusion, I am finding that giving physical gifts has a lot of built-in waste. I mentioned the costs associated with dressing up a gift for presentation, which add up quickly. The whole process is making me reconsider how I give gifts. Finally, there is another component of the gift giving experience that I'd like to address before I sign off here. That is the risk to reward relationship of giving any gift. When I give someone a gift like what I've described in this article I'm left wondering; Did the thing I gave matter to the person? I'm realizing that when we give a gift what we're really saying is "I remembered".
I'd like to hear what your thoughts about the gift buying and what this all adds up to. Any examples to share?