Is It Tacky to Gift a Restaurant Gift Card?

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