I have been thinking about how to help people make decisions relative to giving the gift of massage.
It's a great gift for someone who is curious or alright with this process (though many don't know the actual process); or familiar open to the idea of receiving massage (some say: being touched by a stranger - even when it's a trained stranger, it can be intimidating).
It's a personal gift, because you need to know a person well enough to know if they'll welcome experiencing massage.
Some insights I'd like to share, if you are thinking about giving this as a gift.
Consider where you are purchasing this gift and be willing to pay a reasonable amount (not club discount) for that gift.
You want to know the practitioner (license number) and how long have they been practicing. You can look up licenses on the OBMT (OR Board of Massage Therapists). A recently licensed may be issued to someone who has been practicing massage in another state; so inquire about their experience. I look for someone who has a minimum of 3 years - consistent experience (more than 1-2 clients per week). Otherwise, go to one of massage schools and purchase your gift cert.. - there are instructors present to help, at the schools.
I am an independent practitioner; and as such, I recommend buying with an independent practitioner (not the big corporate businesses) or small local spa where you know practitioner. I advise this, because there is no guarantee who the practitioner that actually provides the massage, will be if it is a larger Corporate company.
I personally limit how many gift certificates I can sell during this season as I need to be able to provide massage to those who are receiving; and, to do so in the near future. Likewise, I have had "receivers" who do not call right away, so I like to have information as to how to contact the receiver (or the one giving the gift) so I can follow-up after 3 months. I've been known to send money back to those who purchased a gift certificate which has not been used by the end of the year.
Both Independent practitioner and Corporate businesses have package pricing, if you want to purchase more than one certificate.
Buy at a location somewhat close to where the "receiver" lives (post massage travel needs to be easy). An option is to extend the gift and arrange to drive and pickup the person you are giving the gift to. Take care of any obligations they have that may make scheduling their time more challenging. If they have children, offer child care. If they are a "care-giver", offer to fill-in when they go for massage, etc.
Consider whether to give an hour or 1-1/2 hour massage gift. The hour is better (I think) for someone who has never had a massage. You want to check though, as to whether that hour is full "hands-on" time; or, "appointment" time (which means hands-on will be about 45-50 minutes so room can be turned by the hour). A longer massage time is for someone who can truly appreciate taking time out to relax, and "sink into" receiving this healing gift. Well celebrated.
Finally, what is the facility like? Is the facility clean and do you get a sense of serenity, when you are there? Some have a clinical atmosphere, and that can be good for those who prefer to focus on the "medicinal" benefits of massage. This environment can be more relaxing to some... again, personal choices.
If you are a person wanting a massage gift certificate, put it on your list of gift requests and be specific.
These are a few of the thoughts I wanted to share and hope it is helpful. Giving the "gift of massage", is truly a "thought-filled, caring gift". Massage helps with stress reduction; a sense of rejuvenation, easing depression or grief; with detox in the body via movement of fluids (sinus, lymph, urine); and in general, reconnecting with one's inner to outer self. Like taking a short vacation.
If you have any questions, please inquire. I do have gift certificates available (1-hr: 70.00; 1-1/2 hour: 90.00; inquire about 4-plus pkg prices).
Hope this is helpful.