With the holidays approaching, millions of consumers are rushing store to store in search of gifts for everyone on their list. However, a great gift may already wait in their wallets: good ol’ cash. In fact, several surveys show that many people prefer getting cash to a traditional gift or even a gift card. After all, cash is the most flexible of gifts because it fits recipients of all sizes and tastes. When I give cash to my niece and nephew cash, for instance, I know they won’t have to return it and I don’t have to worry about relatives’ food or fabric allergies. But cash may not be the perfect gift for everyone.
While your teenaged niece or nephew might love a stash of cash to spend however they please, your boss or in-laws might see it as tacky or impersonal. That’s why Laura Adams, host of the Money Girl podcast, recommends considering the context before giving cash. “For an adult, it makes sense if you know that person wants cash,” she says. “Maybe they mentioned that they’re saving up for something special like a vacation or a piece of jewelry.” Service providers like your hairstylist or cleaning person might also appreciate cash along with a note about how much you value their service, she adds.
“If you do give cash, you need to be really creative about how you do it,” Adams says. “Make it a fun experience and show that you’ve gone the extra mile to put some thought into it.” In addition to showing your thoughtfulness, presenting money in a clever way also makes money less likely to get tossed by mistake. “If you give cash, make sure you don’t bury it in a card or it gets tossed into the fire [with wrapping paper],” Adams says. Here’s a look at five creative ways to give cash.
1. Present it in a chocolate box. Who can resist a pretty box of chocolate? TipJunkie recommends repurposing a fancy chocolate box and arranging coins and bills of various denominations.
2. Make a money tree. Your parents probably told you “money doesn’t grow on trees,” but they hadn’t seen this DIY money tree, another clever way to give cash. Just be sure to use pushpins instead of glue so that the recipient can actually use the bills if they choose. Here’s another take on the money tree idea.
3. Fold it into origami. If you’re especially crafty, consider making money origami. Google “money origami” and you’ll find links to many different origami shapes using dollar bills. Here are a few to get you started: origami mini dress, origami ring, and origami camera.
4. Put it in a piggy bank. If you’re giving cash to kids, consider including a piggy bank so you can introduce them to basic money concepts like saving. “Take them to a bank and open up a checking account and give them a tour of the bank,” Adams says. “Many financial institutions love to give kids a tour of the bank. You can definitely incorporate some good lessons into it.”
5. Play with puns. Money has lots of nicknames (“dough,” “cash,” “loot,” “coin”) that lend themselves to puns. For instance, one gift-giver tied up dollar bills and called it “a serving of holiday dough.” And this cash ‘stache is birthday-themed but you could certainly give it a holiday twist by using festive colors. Or buy an inexpensive umbrella and attach dollar bills for the recipient’s “rainy day fund” as this blogger did.
Photo credit: Getty Thinkstock, Jessica Fisher, Then She Made, Gizmodo, Livette Marshall