Thank you-now go buy groceries with this gift card
November 24, 2008 1:35 PM   Subscribe

Is a gift card to a buy-in-bulk type store a tacky gift to give to hosts?

A relative and his wife offered me their couch over the weekend (I flew out of my state and into theirs for an event we were all attending).
They were awesome hosts. They made sure my every need was met and answered any questions before I even though of them. They drove me everywhere and took me out to eat for many meals and cooked as well.

I'll be sending them a thank you card as well as some local treats. I'd like to also give them something more substantial. I was thinking a gift card.
Throughout the weekend they frequently mentioned their love for one of those buy-in-bulk stores. They visited the store twice over the 3 days I was there.

Is this a tacky or inappropriate gift?

Some other info/thoughts:
I'm in the "Gift cards make great birthday, Christmas, and graduation gifts" boat... so, to me, gift cards in general are not tacky. I don't know how I feel about this particular situation.

If the card is an appropriate gift is $75 a decent amount? I'm hoping it would be somewhat equivalent to the expenses they incurred for the 3 days while I was their guest.
posted by simplethings to Human Relations (13 answers total)
Costco gift cards are popular gifts within both my family and my wife's. The amount depends on the family, but I'd guess $75 sounds reasonable.
posted by JMOZ at 1:47 PM on November 24, 2008

I came in here to say "yes that's kind of tacky", but once I read the [more inside] where you said they "frequently mentioned their love for one of those buy-in-bulk stores", I changed my mind.

So yes, it's not only appropriate, it's perfect.
posted by rokusan at 1:47 PM on November 24, 2008

I think a gift card can be a great gift, if given for the right reasons. You're giving them the card because you noticed their love for the buy-in-bulk stores, not because "Oh I just can't think of what to get them... how about a gift card!" So I agree, it's not tacky at all in this instance.

I would include in your thank-you note that you noticed their particular affection for the store, and you thought they might enjoy it.

It depends on the family if $75 is appropriate, some families may actually think of it as an insult (I don't know this family, so I couldn't say). But if they are very proud, they may see it as an act of charity, that they need the money, and cannot earn it on their own, and as such may be offended. I would hope they would simply see it as you giving back for what time/expense you incurred them, but they may not see it that way.
posted by Political Funny Man at 1:57 PM on November 24, 2008

If it's a store that you know they frequent -- and you've seen for yourself that this is true -- then this sounds like a perfect gift. You are a very thoughtful guest!
posted by lgandme0717 at 1:58 PM on November 24, 2008

There was an interesting article about gift cards in the NYT the other day. I don't think gift cards are per se tacky, but it would be a shame if the card did not get used (maybe not a big risk if your hosts are actively proclaiming their love of the stores).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:03 PM on November 24, 2008

I, too, came in to say it was a bit tacky. If you were sending a Christmas card to someone unfamiliar to you, or that sort of thing, yes - it would be rather impersonal and smack like re-gifting.

But this is different, because it's personal. While you were visiting, you paid attention to something they already appreciate! And in times like these, I think a $75 gift card to their main grocery store is thoughtful. I like the idea of including a few local goodies in the package.
posted by barnone at 2:41 PM on November 24, 2008

Useful, wanted gifts are never tacky.
posted by paanta at 3:04 PM on November 24, 2008

Yeah, the fact that they mentioned it does seem to imply that they won't take your gift the wrong way. A gift card to a store they often patronize is a perfectly appropriate gift for someone you're not close with, and will probably be greeted with "cool, a free trip to [store X]!" I also like the idea of throwing in some local treats; this makes it seem like a warmer gift, and also spreads out the gifting a bit (they might not like one gift, but it's three times less likely that they'll dislike like all three gifts).

$75 seems appropriate, considering the amount of effort they put into your stay. It's also not too high and not too low, so the amount won't be taken as a put-down either way.
posted by vorfeed at 3:28 PM on November 24, 2008

In their case, definitely not tacky, and you know it will be used! (I'm in the "gift cards are a good gift" camp too.) Go for it!

Regarding Admiral Haddock's comment - if you're worried about the "they might go under!" aspect, maybe get them a credit card gift card and say, "hey, thought you could use this on your next trip to [Warehouse Store]!" So...if it's Costco, maybe get them an AMEX gift card? It's the only credit card they accept there. Not sure about the other places. But...if they visited twice in the 3 days you were there, I wouldn't really worry too much about that. Maybe they went more because you were there (and needed more stuff, maybe?) but even if they average 1 trip a week (instead of 2 in 3 days) I wouldn't worry too much about it.
posted by AlisonM at 3:32 PM on November 24, 2008

Very thoughtful. Not tacky at all.
posted by HotToddy at 3:41 PM on November 24, 2008

Definitely a good idea.

Just as a caveat on AMEX gift cards: I received one as a gift a few years ago and using it turned out to be a giant PITA. It was inexplicably rejected as "invalid" at several major retailers who otherwise take AMEX and it could not be used as a form of payment for a purchase which totaled more than the card's worth (if the card is worth $50 and you're using it against a $75 dollar purchase, you'd tend to hand the gift card over and then pay the balance, right? With that stupid gift card, I had to calculate what the balance would be less $50 and persuade the cashier to ring up a separate sale for the part to be paid for by the gift card. At the time, this requirement wasn't mentioned anywhere on the gift card or on the AMEX website, I only found out about it after I called AMEX to complain about what I thought was a dud card).

Oh, and AMEX charges a $2/month inactivity fee after a year.
posted by jamaro at 5:56 PM on November 24, 2008

I think a gift card can be a great gift, if given for the right reasons. You're giving them the card because you noticed their love for the buy-in-bulk stores, not because "Oh I just can't think of what to get them... how about a gift card!" So I agree, it's not tacky at all in this instance.

Exactly what I was going to say!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:17 PM on November 24, 2008

Thanks for the quick replies! I guess it's a definite yes for the gift card. =) Since most everyone gave the same approval I gave Best Answer to the first three.
Thanks again!
posted by simplethings at 7:29 PM on November 24, 2008

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