there is nothing wrong with putting an expiration date on a gift certificate. Six months is a reasonable time frame.
I usually urge the buyer, though, to make sure that this is truly a wanted gift and not a very heavy-handed hint.
I would definitely put an expiration date on it. The person receiving it needs to have a little sense of urgency to redeem it – 6 to 12 mos. is a fair time. However, I would most likely honor it even if it were expired – especially if it was a client of mine who purchased it. If you honor it, you have a chance of picking up a new client. If you don’t, you run the risk of losing one, possibly two.
Quick story: I had a client pay me for 10 sessions up front – did 2 & said he had to postpone his training & would get back to me. We’ll he did – 2 years later. He said he understood if those sessions expired & was willing to pay for a new package. I told him that I would honor the remaining sessions on the previous package & he was very happy and appreciative about that. That was in 1997 & I still train him, his wife & oldest son – not to mention the people he referred to me over the years. A little bit of good will can go a long way.
I would check your local state laws. The CARD act set new rules on gift cards and gift certificates. Generally, they have to be good for the value paid for at least 5 years. You don’t want to get sued.
Check out the table here for starters (scroll down a bit to your state)…