I'm finding this a really interesting thread - I don't like giving or receiving gift cards - this thread has made me think about *why*, and I think think that it's partly because it's not much fun; you don't get to see the pLeased surprise on someone's face when they open the gift. I get round this by getting a small 'real' gift as well if I'm giving money (If I'm giving money at all, I'd rather give cash or a cheque, as then there is no worry about the card expiring, or the retailer going bust)
I think for me it is also partly that it feels as though it's a bit of a cop out - that the giver hasn't spent any time or effort on choosing something, which can feel as though they don't really care enough to think about what would be appreciated. Of course intellectually I know that the giver's thinking is likely to be totally different, but think that feeling of "they haven't bothered to make much effort" is a big reason why I don't like getting gift cards from someone who I'm close to. And if I give one to someone, part of me feels that *i* haven't made an effort, so I'm uncomfortable with it.
The way I get round it is to include a small 'real' gift too, or to try to package the money gift with imagination , and if someone does that while giving me a voucher / cash I feel much happier about it, I think because it shows that they have given me the gift of their time and thought, rather than 'just' buying a gift card without thinking about it. (Again, I know intellectually that buying a gift card does not automatically = not thinking much about the recipient, but knowing that doesn't stop it *feeling* that way!)
For instance, last year my brother was going to buy my a specific book, but it was not in stock at his local bookshop so he gave me a book token instead. In the card, he wrote a little story about his Quest for the Book, with some pictures illustrating what he thought the plot of the book might be about, based on it's title. It was a great gift, as it meant I could have the specific thing that had been on my suggestions list, and the way he gave be the gift card demonstrated that it wasn't just labour saving, he'd also put some time and effort in.
My sister and BiL have said that what they'd really like this christmas is money, as they have some big, expensive things which they want/need for their boat. I'm giving them some money because that's what they want, they are also getting some little things (lip salve, and a small box of luxury chocolates) which I know they will like, and which gives them a physical gift as well as the thing they have asked for.
(giving someone a small real gift also blurs the edges of 'how much have you spent', which I think is another issue with giving / receiving cash or vouchers)