Every gift-giving season there's someone on your shopping list that you wait until the last minute to find the perfect gift. Whether a graduation present for your out-of-state nephew, or a birthday gift for the daughter of your best friend, planning ahead doesn't always happen. During holiday season as the stores get busier with others all trying to hunt down their own perfect Christmas gift, you may be think, "Wouldn't they just love cash?" You probably would.
If your gift list is ripe with people who are difficult to shop for, money offers a range of last-minute gift ideas from gift cards to eGifts to just plain cash. Who isn't excited to receive a little extra spending money? However, giving cash as a gift can feel a little..., well..., unthoughtful or lazy. That's why we wanted to give you some creative ideas to help make giving money as a gift a lot more exciting.
Present a tabletop Christmas tree decorated with a string of lights and origami decorations made of money. Shape the bills into stars, pine trees, and other designs that are appropriate for the recipient. Or if you’re not especially crafty, you can make an actual money tree with just a few bills.
Make a money notepad
Are you crafty? This idea will take a couple of tools, but once completed it is a really fun way to give a stack of bills. You can get crisp bills by either going to your local community financial institution or by taking an iron to them. If you do iron your bills, make sure that you spray them with water first and use the lowest setting on your iron.
Make a "crappy" gift
There is always "that gift." The one that makes you pause and wonder, "Why would they get me this? Do they even know me?" Insert a big bill inside the center cardboard roll of bath tissue and it really will be worth hoarding. We're betting that whoever gets it is going to like it once they realize what's hidden inside the center of the roll. Tip: this is incredibly fun at a white elephant event.
Break in case of an emergency
You know those classic fire extinguisher containers that read "break in case of an emergency?" Well, is there any more emergency more dire than running out of cash? Okay, maybe there are plenty, but dressing up your cash in a frame is a funny way to spice up a gift. If you're looking for a way to personalize it, why not specify the emergency? For example, if the recipient is a pizza fan, try printing a background to remind them to, "Break in case of a pizza emergency."
Disguise the money in something they hate
Let's be honest, socks or vacuum cleaner bags are not high on your gift list, but if you want to take someone on an emotional rollercoaster (or repay someone who has done likewise to you), try hiding the money in something you know they won't like. Does your sister-in-law hate licorice? Tuck it in an envelope and tape it the back of a bag candy, just be sure you know the recipient is a good sport.
Sweet money holder
On the other hand, you can always hide money in something the actually like. At first they’ll think you have given them a mason jar filled with their favorite candy. But wait — there’s a cardboard tube inside with a roll of bills! Chocolate boxes work, too. Just replace a few nuggets with rolled-up bills. This way they’ll get two things they really want.
Let's face it. Every time we get a card, no matter how old we are, part of us is hoping that there is cash inside. Why not own it? You can go the classic route of putting money in a card, but try spicing things up by adding some humor to the message.
Give them a change
As awesome as it is to receive a $100 bill, it can fill a little wimpy. It is, after all, a single small sheet of paper. Now, how much more fun would it be to receive a sack full of 10,000 pennies? That's 68 pounds of pennies - so maybe just $20 worth. Don't overlook quarters, too, for larger gift denominations. After all, they have far more practical uses.
For children, that many pennies will feel more exciting and it will let them work on their counting skills. Just make sure you don't take it to one of those grocery store change machines as they take a percent to count your coins. Your community bank or credit union is a much smarter choice for converting coins to cash.
Cold, hard cash
If someone asks for "cold, hard cash" then give it to them in the most literal sense. Freeze the money in a block of ice. To do this, you will want to take a container and fill it halfway with water. Put it in the freezer. Once frozen, put the bill on top and cover with a little bit of water and return it to the freezer. Once this layer has frozen, you can fill the rest of the container with water and complete your ice block.
Turn it into a game
Is there any better feeling than finding money? Well, you can recreate some of that excitement by turning your gift into a scavenger hunt. Instead of putting money in a card, put a clue as to where they should look to find the next clue or the cash. Just make sure you don't put it someplace where the money could be stolen or destroyed.
Put it to work
One of the most fundamental principles of building wealth is learning to switch from working for money to putting money to work. The same can be applied to making a great gift. Instead of handing over the cash and letting them spend it on something that will just collect dust, make the financially savvy choice and put the money in an account or investment. You could put them in stocks or even start a high-interest checking account. If you start it early enough, you can give the gift of a nice lump sum just sitting there earning great rewards (wink wink).
Dress up an empty two-liter bottle with ribbon and a large personalized label and fill it with bills. The recipient won’t realize it at first, but the bottle comes with a built-in brain challenge. They will need to find a way to work the cash out of that tiny opening. Insert maniacal grinch-y laugh here.
Wouldn't it be incredible if this gift was a literal money-making machine? Alas, it is just a creative illusion that makes giving cash a little more exciting. The real fun comes from the slow reveal of the denomination.
A greenback concealed in a balloon is a fun and festive way to deliver your gift. You can even turn it into a game. Make it exciting with a living-room balloon drop, and send the kids scurrying to pop them all and collect their cash.
Obvious gift cards
Don't feel like you're short-changing the people receiving your gifts simply because you are giving gift cards. Clip a gift card for clothes to a hanger. Tie a pair of wired headsets around a music gift card. Wrap a food gift card in a few napkins. Tape a gas gift card to the back of a matchbox-sized toy car.
With a little creativity, even money can be transformed into a fun and thoughtful gift. Whether you're a last minute shopper or you're just struggling to find the perfect gift, don't be afraid to give the gift of cash in a unique and exciting way.