Did you ever think of giving gift certificates to your favorite restaurants for the holidays? "OK," "like sure," "yes" or "of course" you say. Giving gift certificates to restaurants has always been a common occurrence at the holidays. I frequently give restaurant gifts certificates because I love restaurants and because restaurant gift certificates fit all my gift-giving criteria:
They are always needed food is a basic need.
They usually fit - although sometimes they change your size.
They are usually the right color choice?- no problem here.
The receiver will use and not return them. (Although I once had a woman try to exchange hers for cash.)
Although it is classic to give fast-food gift certificates to the newspaper boy, put Friendly's Ice Cream gift certificates in stockings, or give your boss a certificate to the best restaurant in town, let's consider some other ideas for these restaurant offerings.
Consider middle- or lower-priced restaurants. If you think giving a restaurant gift certificate means a gift of $100 to a fine-dining restaurant, think again. Although this is a good idea, you can also give a gift of rest, relaxation and refreshment to a restaurant without the big price tag. Consider a gift to the lunch caf, the pizza house or Italian delivery, the submarine shop or a coffee shop.
It might be interesting and appreciated to receive these gifts that might really help with the receiver's food budget. Two nights out at the Chinese buffet, gourmet coffee or three breakfast sandwiches might be very welcomed gifts instead of a kangaroo tie. Today, most restaurants give gift cards that can be easily used and reused. I "fill" a McDonalds' gift card for my granddaughters in Manhattan. This way, I'm sure they get filled while continuing the family tradition of supporting Mickey D's.
Consider dressing up the gift. Put the caf certificate in an inexpensive coffee mug. Wrap the Chinese buffet gift around a bottle of soy sauce with chopsticks tied to it with a bow. Put the submarine certificates in a little toy sub. Using a small inexpensive gift to herald the certificate enhances the message, creates a gift to open and fools the receiver into thinking its not a gift certificate. The possibilities are endless.
Consider gift certificates that say "Let's get together." Every year I take cookies to friends and neighbors, stand in the front hall, make small talk and leave with a "let's get together soon" then I come back a year later and do the same thing without having gotten together. So skip the cookies. Give a gift certificate (much easier) for $5 or $10 to a nearby coffee shop, fast-food restaurant or luncheonette. Include a stamped post card with a list or three or four dates that are good for you and write "circle one". (Just make sure you keep track of dates.)
Every year, I invite my best friend from Saratoga for a holiday dinner. Last year, I couldn't get it together during the holidays, so I sent her a "Let's get together gift" to her favorite restaurant. It included a gift certificate for both of us. It was really great. We met at a time when we both had the ability to enjoy the other's company. It extended our holiday social time with the same personal connection but without the hassle. Plus, the gift certificate did double duty a Christmas gift and a Christmas dinner.
This same idea can be extended to homemade meals. A friend sent us a Christmas bag with two dinner candles and an invitation to her home. The invitation had a list of dates available. It is a unique way to give a gift and have a holiday party, not necessarily at Christmas.
Consider "add-ons" to the gift certificate. Babysitting is a common one and not just for relatives but friends and neighbors too. Adding a chauffeur service, either real or yourself, is always appreciated (with you doing the chauffeuring). When my daughter was in college, I gave her a gift certificate to her favorite restaurant in Syracuse. I included shopping for a dress to wear. (Silly me, she wanted jeans.)
At the Fulton County Regional Chamber of Commerce & Industry, you can buy gift certificates called Chamber Checks that can be used at many of the chamber member businesses. This gives recipients a choice of restaurants. The Chamber Checks can be purchased at places including the chamber office in Gloversville, Citizens Bank, and Ruby & Quiri.
So, now that I've completed your holiday shopping, don't forget to put a gift certificate to your favorite restaurant on your own wish list too. At restaurants.com, you can save money on gift certificates throughout the country or in your local area.
Restaurant watch: Check out the cards and special deals available at area restaurants.