Family / Parenting

The Going Rate of a Gift Card

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Ok there are three customers in front of me before I have to decide how much this gift card should be. What is the going rate for a kid’s birthday gift card now? I mean, $20 seems a respectable amount for a birthday gift. Levi doesn’t even really hang out with this kid. It’s not like they’re besties or anything. I’d go $25 for a bestie. Or is $25 your average non-bestie amount?

An actual present, a toy or book or game, would have been so much easier. Get them what they want, and you’re a thoughtful guest. Find out from one of the parents what the kid is into. If they already have their favorite game, then maybe a few in-game items. Source a gift from or a similar website. Bam. Done. It’s so easy and won’t need me to run around looking for it, but the cost will be more than adequate. Perfect. Or maybe even a personal gift the kid will appreciate … and most likely not return because it’s a toy or book or game the kid likes … and if the kid doesn’t return it, no one will ever know that it was purchased at bargain website for half the amount listed on Amazon.

Throw in the handmade card made at the eleventh hour on sun-faded construction paper I’ve stored since the boys were in preschool, and I may have saved myself enough cash for a pedicure….which I desperately need now that the old color on my toenails looks more like a French tip than a painted nail. Nothing says “I’m a caring friend who went out of his way to make you this card instead of buying you a cookie-cutter greeting” than markers on a faded shade of … orange? brown? Unclear.

There is no actual toy or book or game this time, though. The mom said that the kid is saving up for something or other, and the perfect gift would be a gift card from Best Buy. Easy enough, I thought, but that was before I had to wait in line second-guessing myself. Gabriella has no idea the stress involved in buying presents for birthday parties. Of course, she’d probably get a $15 gift card and be done with it. She has no shame. That kid has no idea how lucky he is that I’m the one in line right now.

Now there is one more customer to go before I put a price on friendship. $20 seems like a solid amount. But then there’s the fact that he’s only one of 5 kids invited to spend the entire day playing Laser Tag. They’re getting dinner, and cake – obv – and probably gift bags, though I really wouldn’t judge if they didn’t give any of the kids anything. As a matter of fact, I’d prefer if they didn’t because then I wouldn’t feel guilty about only spending $20 on this goddam gift card, which is a perfectly acceptable amount for a birthday gift!!! UGH, I don’t know what to do.

Maybe it would be different if the parents were good friends of ours. I might be more inclined to round up. I’ve never even met the parents. The only reason I know what they look like is because I found them on Facebook. The mom and I have 3 mutual friends. Clearly, we have nothing in common if we only have 3 mutual friends. Are the Republicans or something? Or maybe she’s just very private and discerning on Facebook, which is a strategy that I respect but gave up about 400 friends ago.

The question is, are they going to be as appreciative of a $25 gift card as they are critical of a $20 gift card? I need to weigh my risk here. But I only have one more person in line.

What’s $5 more anyway? Don’t think about the fact that I have to wait until our next paycheck to pay our fucking sewage tax. It’s a crappy situation when you’ve got the sewage tax hanging over your head. Is it sad that I pun even when I talk to myself? What if I promised the town that we’d shit in their sewers nevermore? What if we built a latrine in our backyard and never flushed again? Then we’d have no problem buying the $25 gift card.

But the fact is, I can’t be buying this one a $25 gift card and that one a $25 gift card. I need to have confidence in the generosity of the $20 gift card. Worst case scenario, the family is completely insulted by our meager gift card and never invites Levi to a party ever again…which suits me just fine because then I wouldn’t have to worry about how much to spend on a fucking gift card!

I’ll make sure he puts some extra stickers on the card – right along the sun-faded edges.




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One Comment

  1. Vikki Reich says:

    I would have done $20. Gift cards don’t grow on trees!

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