Is It Tacky to Gift a Restaurant Gift Card?

When giving a birthday present, is sending a money for dinner frowned upon?

Every week, our resident experts Mindy Lockard and Coryanne Ettiene answer etiquette questions from modern day hosts, offering advice from both traditional and contemporary perspectives.

Have a question you want answered? Send us an email with your dilemma, and then check back every week for new tips and advice.

This week’s question: Is it tacky to give cash or a gift card to a restaurant to a food-loving friend in another city as a birthday present?

Coryanne: Gifts should come from the heart, for me. I find that the greatest joy of giving a gift is knowing that it will be well received and enjoyed. I try to avoid giving cash and gift cards, instead opting for a well-planned gift that I know the person would genuinely enjoy, perhaps the makings for a gourmet meal they can make at home, or a bottle of wine paired with a rare cheese or cured meat. But when it comes to gifting a night out on the town at a specific restaurant, a gift card is the way to go. You can't wrap up dinner at Per Se in a box!

Mindy: Although a gift is a gift and the recipient shouldn’t make judgments, one thing to keep in mind before adding some green to the inside of a card is how it lacks creativity. What it might communicate is, “I had no idea what to get you.” This is where a gift card shows a little more creativity or thought. Maybe you take a trip to visit this friend and instead treat them to the meal yourself.

However, if you do decide to give cash, get a little creative with the card’s message: “Treat yourself to a fun dinner this week,” or “A little something to contribute to your gourmet grocery fund.”

About Our Experts: Mindy Lockard is The Gracious Girl and offers traditional etiquette advice with a modern, gracious twist. Coryanne Ettiene believes entertaining at home should be an everyday affair; she shares contemporary advice for modern living at Housewife Bliss.

Click here to see more tips and advice from our experts. 

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Gifts's picture

Mindy is right, it's not being demanding when someone says I didn't like your restaurant gift card. It's just that gift checks are known to be mostly the ones you get for free or when there is a promo from your recent shopping. It would make the recipient feel that you're just giving it away because it's all you have left, or you don't give enough time to think for a present. Gifts which you truly think he/she likes and will know that you put effort into it, are the ones most appreciated. which you truly think he/she likes and will know that you put effort into it, are the ones most appreciated.

HerrySmith's picture

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With todays economy noway this would be considered tacky. Helping me save money by giving me a gift card, thank you very much! Also if you ever need to check your gift card balance I use this site:

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