As we grow up, birthdays become a bit less of a gift affair and more of a cause for quiet celebration or maybe cake at the office or some good food and drinks with friends. There's also the inevitable flood of Facebook messages from all of your friends and acquaintances wishing you an awesome day, which, let's face it, is kind of great. Because when you're a grown-up, it's considered uncool to announce your birthday wherever you go. Still, excluding close friends and family, we sort of stop giving and receiving actual gifts in our adult years, which kind of sucks, since I doubt many of us actually outgrow the joy of receiving a present. Of course, who has the money to bestow gifts upon every one of their friends? Well, Amazon has figured out a way for friends to pool their money for a friend's birthday using Facebook and a crowd-funding approach to gathering dollars toward an Amazon gift certificate. The above video explains it fairly simply. You start a gift card for a person through Amazon's birthday page, then invite a bunch of your mutual friends to contribute to it.
As you should be able to see from the Amazon's site - assuming you're logged in and your Amazon account is linked to your Facebook page - Amazon includes a handy list of all of your friends, ordered by when their birthday is scheduled. Talk about convenient. Granted, this is obviously in Amazon's best interest as the site benefits substantially from this feature. They're selling gift cards here. But instead of you sending your friend one $5 gift card and a note telling them to help themselves to one of Amazon's lowest priced DVDs, you're taking your $5 (or however much you want to contribute, options are $1, $5, $10 and $25) and combining it with your friends' contributions. It's the virtual passing of the hat, which pools the money together for one big gift certificate, which Amazon delivers virtually on your friend's birthday, along with your message to them.
I tried it out today with a certain Cinema Blend Editor in Chief whose birthday just so happens to be tomorrow. I'll be on the lookout to see that the message has been delivered to her Facebook page as scheduled. I notice that I can now see in my list of Facebook friends at Amazon.com/birthdaygift, that the gift has been scheduled, but I don't see any option to change the gift or message, which would be a nice added feature, especially if the gift-giver has a set amount in mind that they'd like to see collected or they decide to add more.
The pooling of the money is the real benefit here, I think. After all, Facebook's been offering a gift feature for a while now, and I'll admit, I've never been inclined to participate in it. But passing the hat around and encouraging friends to do so in the hopes that the birthday girl or boy will receive a decent-sized gift-card seems like a better option. It's sort of like crowd funding, except in this case, the cause is a birthday present. As great as it is that it works for birthdays, I'm actually kind of hoping that Amazon expands it so that it can be used for other events, or non-specified gifts. If everyone were chipping in to buy Mom a new Kindle or contribute to a housewarming gift for a friend, that would be an easy way to get people on board to help out with the cost - especially for casual friends who might only want to contribute a small amount. And while Facebook seems like the easiest way to collect all of the relevant birthday and friend information, it would be nice to include an email option to invite or gift people who aren't on Facebook.
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