DEAR HARRIETTE: Is a gift card an impersonal gift? Sometimes I find myself too busy or at a loss for ideas when it comes time to give presents. For example, I got my friend a gift card to a store I know she likes. I felt bad, but also knew it would be put to good use. Should I have gone to the store and picked something out that she may have returned instead? -- Gift Card, Raleigh, North Carolina
DEAR GIFT CARD: Some of the most popular gifts these days are gift cards. Yes, they are quick and easy for the givers, but also they're like giving somebody cash to buy what he or she likes. The fact that you thought about your friend and got her a card from one of her favorite stores shows that you were being thoughtful. You could have given a gift card from American Express, Visa or Mastercard that could be used anywhere. By the way, those are great gifts as well.
One way to further personalize a gift is to buy or make a card in which you include a special note acknowledging your friend.