I just saw a DSW Shoes ad that horrified me on so many levels. It's about two boots symbolizing people and the recipient boot is singing to the other about how horrible the gift it received was.
First off that is horrible, are we that ungrateful now?
Then it goes on to recommend gift cards-- kind of like cash but less useful and in practice less valuable. With the holiday season approaching, I probably won't be buying gift cards. I also will try to influence my wife not to either. And now you also. Seriously, I get that you want to put thought into it. But, just give cash if you are going to do that and be thoughtful in the card you stuff it into. Give them a form of currency that can be used anywhere at any time. Gift cards have expiration dates and often are as irreplaceable as cash if misplaced. However, five years down the road when checking the pockets of that jacket you never wear and you find cash it will be a cool surprise as opposed to an expired piece of plastic they cannot remember who it came from.