Last Minute Shopper: Creative Ways To Give Cash As A Gift

No matter how hard you try, every holiday season there's someone on your shopping list that you wait until the last minute to find the perfect gift for. As stores get busier and deadlines approach quickly, you may be thinking about giving the gift of cash. Money makes for a great last minute gift, especially for those people who are difficult to shop for. 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.

Money Making Machine

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.

money making machine


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 your spray them with water first and use the lowest setting on your iron.

stack of cash


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?". This gift might look pretty crappy on the surface, but we're bettering that whoever gets it is going to like it once they realize what's hidden inside. Also, this is incredibly fun at a white elephant.

money hidden in toilet paper roll


Disguise the Money in Something They Hate

Don't you love that feeling of watching someone open a present you know they hate and then witnessing them struggle through trying to fake happiness? Just me?

If you want to take someone on an emotional rollercoaster, try hiding the money in something you know they won't like. Does your sister hate licorice? Fold the money and hide it in the middle of a jar of the candy. Know someone who always gets a ton of socks for Christmas? Tuck some bills in the sock fold.

give money by hiding it in something less interesting

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.


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 this 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 saying "Break in case of a pizza emergency."

creative way to give money break in case of emergency


Be Blunt

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 spicing things up by adding some humor to the messaging.

cash put in card as a gift


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. For children, that 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.

100 dollars in pennies gift


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.

cold hard cash gift


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.

drawing of swing


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. My grandmother used to do this with bonds, but you could put them in stocks or even start a high-interest checking account (wink wink).


Money Trees

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 meaningful to the recipient. Or if you’re especially crafty, you can make an actual money tree.


Bottle Challenge

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. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha


Party Time

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.

With a little holiday magic, 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.


Tags: Holiday Smarts