Giving gifts is so expensive these days

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

Toy: $29.99

Tax: $3.22

Total: $47.69

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

Tax: $4.57

Total: $68.56

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?

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