5 Ways to Give Cash as a Gift

by Daniel Packer on 21 March 2011 18 comments
Photo: Rob Lee

Everyone loves receiving cash as a present, but sticking a $20 bill in a card is a little anti-climactic. At best you'll receive a smile and a thank you. It's money. We've seen it before, and while it is nice that you were able to put an exact dollar amount on your thoughtfulness, you didn't step up and give a gift that's memorable. In fact, it may signal that you waited until the last minute. (See also: 5 Reasons Why You Should Give Kids Cash for the Holidays)

How can you give cash and make the recipient feel like a million bucks? Get a little creative with the gift's entrance, and you'll make the dollar amount feel like an afterthought. Try one of these five fun ways of gifting cash, and your typically mundane present could turn into the hit of the party. In fact, the harder the recipient has to "work" for the cash, the more fun it could be!

1. Money Origami

What's cooler than getting cash in the shape of the things you could buy with the money? Use money origami to make a collared shirt and some boots. Add in a bow-tie and you have a new wardrobe! The possibilities are endless, and the time you put in will definitely earn you a few impressed looks. The only downside is the recipient won't want to "unwrap" the gift!

2. Cold Hard Cash

Put your the cash in a plastic bag and close it tight. Place it in a container of water and stick it in the freezer for a few hours. The recipient will have to chip away at the block of ice (or wait for it to melt!) in order to reach the present.

3. Never-Ending Roll

Cut a slit in a cardboard box (shoe boxes work great!), wide enough to fit the short side of a dollar bill through. Tape the bills together, end to end, and roll them up inside the box. Tape one end to a sign that says "Pull Here," making sure the sign hangs outside the box while hiding the dollar bills that are attached to it inside. When the recipient pulls the tab, the cash will flow out, and the present will take some time to unwind.

4. Pop for Your Cash

Fill a bunch of balloons with dollar bills, blow them up, and then give the recipient a little box with a pin inside. They’ll soon figure out that their job is to pop the balloons and collect the cash that falls out.

5. Going Nuts 

Split some walnuts carefully down the middle and place tightly folded dollar bills inside each one. Super glue them back together so nobody will know that you've manipulated the walnuts. Imagine the surprise at finding out that maybe money can grow on trees!

What other creative entrances for cash have you seen?

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Guest's picture
Guest

I have put cash inside clear puzzle boxes. Boxes made of plastic & wood that need to be manipulated in various ways to be opened. So one can see the money but one needs to solve a puzzle to get to it.

Or break the wood & plastic open. That works too.

Never had a problem with anyone refusing or being disappointed with a money gift.

Daniel Packer's picture

That's so cool, add it to the list! These creative ways of giving money are definitely going to 'wow' some people and turn the focus away from the dollar amount of the gift!

Guest's picture

Filling balloons sounds hard -- have you ever tried stuffing items inside a balloon? Not as easy as it sounds ...

The Never-Ending roll is my fave idea!

Daniel Packer's picture

Ha! It's all about rolling them up really small before trying to squeeze them through!

I think my favorite is the origami. But I would definitely hold onto it for awhile instead of depositing it or spending it. Why give away something so beautiful?!

Guest's picture
Guest

My son's friend gave him a coleman water jug filled with ice cubes with frozen $2 coins in them...and the card said something like: I thought I'd get you some cold hard cash for your birthday.

Also this same friend the year before gave him a loaf of bread with (20) 1 dollar bills inbetween the slices and it looked like lettuce...My son got a kick out of that.

Guest's picture
Melanie

We've done treasure hunts for money. Every few clues you find more money until the biggest amount of money is at the end... :o)

Guest's picture
Guest

We went to our local NHL game the night of our wedding in our wedding attire. A random stranger gave us an origami dollar bill elephant for a wedding present. It is still sitting on our dresser.

Daniel Packer's picture

That's amazing. On the night you'll never forget, you got a present you'll never forget.

Do these stories make anyone else smile? I want to be an expert and wow some of my friends!

Guest's picture

Money origami! That is so adorable. I love that. I'm always looking for unique gift ideas. This is great for the perosn who has everything or the college grad.

Guest's picture
Guest

For my grand-niece's Sweet 16 I gave her 16 portraits of our 16th President (16 $5 bills with Abe Lincoln)! A great tie-in to the event.

Daniel Packer's picture

I love it, great choice! Your grand-niece should be greatful she didn't get the other money with Lincoln on it, I think she would have been a little disappointed with 16 pennies!

Guest's picture
Guest

When I was little, my grandfather gave us all money where he cut out a picture of him in a funny hat and taped it over the picture of the president. Another time he put it inside a christmas ornament.

Guest's picture
Guest

i made a "money tree" as a housewarming gift. I bought a basic houseplant in a very pretty planter and rolled various denominations up so they looked like calla lillys. Using floral tape available at any craft store, taped them to wire "stems" (also from craft store) and stuck them in the planter. This was for a co-worker & by the time other people went in on it, the plant contained almost $1000!

Guest's picture
Guest

My brother gave me a mini xmas tree, the ornaments were silver dollars and money rolls all over it. Another year he did the cold hard cash idea in a bottle of Canadian Mist, he said it was either that or jello!!

Guest's picture

The law of giving says that your body, your mind and this universe is in constant and dynamic change. The divine energy is continually flowing through each of us and in order to receive something, you must be willing to give something. Many people believe that if they will give, they will have less but the law of giving does not work like that. According to this law, when you will give, you will have more.

Guest's picture

I love this! Sometimes it feels so lame that you give a cash gift and it’s just placed in the card. Same gift, same amount more thought... You have my vote.

Guest's picture

I'm half chinese, so I love getting little red envelopes!

Guest's picture
Debi

I've done a couple of different ideas.
1. Bought a clear plastic ornament put the money inside then painted the outside with a drum set and gave to my nephew to put towards a new drum he wanted.
2. My husband, son and I folded the dollar bills and made a crown by connecting them all together.