A reader is upset her boyfriend only gives gift cards as presents. Here's a compromise.

Question: I’ve dated my boyfriend for two years, and I’ve never seen him give a gift that wasn’t a gift card. He buys them for everything — my birthday, Valentine’s Day, everything. 

We’re going to his best friend’s wedding next month, and he wants to get the couple a gift card! I told him that’s a TERRIBLE idea, and he should just buy something from their registry. He says he’s always given gift cards, so what’s the big deal?

Is he right? Am I being too intense?

— Celeste in New York

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

Howard Dvorkin on how to get out of debt fastI don’t think you’re too intense, Celeste. I think gift cards are too intense. The latest numbers from a market research firm called Packaged Facts reveals…

  • Americans spent $46 billion on gift cards last year.
  • Of that, employers gave $7 billion in gift cards to their employees.
  • Here’s the most intense stat of all: Americans “spent $11 billion on gift cards they gave to themselves.”

So your boyfriend is simply riding the trend. Still, I understand your concern, Celeste. I’ve always counseled my clients and readers: The best gifts are about emotion, not money.

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Here’s how to make your boyfriend’s gift cards mean more without spending more.

Instead of simply slipping a gift card in an envelope and leaving it on the gift table at the wedding, ask him to write a handwritten note that expresses how much his friend means to him.

That note should include a story from their past, along with best wishes to the future with his new bride. You can also include a note of your own. I promise this: Long after the gift card has been spent, those notes will be cherished.

If you give gifts as a couple in the future, I suggest your boyfriend buys the gift card, and you buy the Hallmark card. It’s a compassionate compromise.

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Email your question to editor@debt.com and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.

Meet the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin

CPA and Chairman

Dvorkin is the author of Credit Hell and Power Up, founder of Consolidated Credit, and Chairman of Debt.com.

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Article last modified on June 1, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Ask The Expert: Are Gift Cards Tacky Wedding Presents? - AMP.