When it comes to opening your yearly birthday card from a relative, be honest: are you reading their written message, or are you just pretending to read it while actually peeking at how much money they sent you?
If you chose the latter, don’t feel bad—many people do the same. However, if you love giving presents and are gifting some cash instead, you may wonder if there are any creative ways to give money that feel a little more special than the standard check-in-card situation.
Never fear: there are countless money gift ideas for the more creative gift-givers out there. Read on for creative ways to give cash and gift cards to kids and adults alike, including how to wrap money for a gift. Whichever idea you choose, remember to budget accordingly so you don’t tank your credit score while trying to be generous.
Table of contents:
- Creative ways to give physical cash
- Creative money gift ideas for kids
- Creative ways to give gift cards
Creative ways to give cash
If you need a last-minute gift, don’t know what else to get someone or are just looking for a way to spice up giving cash, look no further. The great thing about gifting someone cash is that they get to use it for whatever they want—be it saving for a car, working toward retirement or letting loose with “just for fun” purchase.
Whether you’re seriously planning ahead for these gifts or need to assemble something in a matter of hours, you’ll be sure to find a fun way to give money among these nine ideas.
1. Balloon pop
If your recipient doesn’t mind loud noises, then this money gift idea will be a ball. Simply blow up a balloon (ideally one filled with confetti for another surprise), roll up your cash tightly and drop it in before you tie the balloon shut. Present your gift with a pin and explain that their balloon contains a special surprise.
If you want to get really crafty, create a balloon-popping corkboard and put a few bills into different balloons. Give your recipient some darts and have them carefully toss the darts to earn their cash.
If you want to disguise your gift as something mundane, look no further than the nearly empty box of tissues gathering dust in your bathroom. Remove any remaining tissues, then gather clear craft tape and your cash—you’ll want at least ten bills for this. Carefully tape each bill end to end, then tightly roll the bills together.
If you want to add a note, tape a small piece of paper onto the end of the last piece of cash and add a custom message for the recipient. Then, line the box with a few pieces of tissue as a cushion and place your money roll at the bottom. Arrange the note side so it peeks out of the top of the box and add a tissue to stick out of the top. They’ll find the note, give it a tug and get their very own tissue box of cash!
Nothing embodies “life is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re going to get” quite like a chocolate box full of money. Buy a box of assorted chocolates and take a few out of the box (feel free to sample them for quality control purposes). Then, roll up cash and put it in the empty spots.
Be sure to wrap up the box like it hasn’t been opened and surprise your friend with more than just chocolate.
There are several ways to fold money into origami so you can present cash in a unique way, but one of the most beginner-friendly ways is to fold a heart. This is a great addition to a Valentine’s Day gift, or a way to tell someone you’re thinking about them.
To get started, grab a crisp bill and follow the instructions below.
1. Fold your bill in half both horizontally and vertically, creasing both times.
2. Fold the long bottom edge up to meet the fold in the center.
3. Fold the sides of the bill up diagonally to meet the vertical fold line.
4. Turn the bill over. Fold both the left and right sides of the two flaps sticking up.
5. Fold the top of the flaps down.
6. Fold the corners of the flaps in to create a rounded heart shape.
7. Turn the bill over, and the dollar should resemble a heart.
There are hundreds of other origami folds for your dollar bills, ranging from beginner to expert level—do some research and see what folds you can master to impress that special someone!
5. Money tree
If your recipient has a green thumb, then give a whole new meaning to the money tree plant with a literal money tree. First, gather your materials: a pot, a wooden rod or stake, Styrofoam and green paint (or floral foam).
Place the Styrofoam in the pot as your base and paint it green to resemble grass (or use floral foam). Firmly stick your wooden rod into the Styrofoam (you can use hot glue to make sure it stays in place). Then, fold each bill so it can be arranged on the stake using tape or a twist tie. Once the tree looks full enough, wrap a bow around the pot and voilá—you have a money tree!
You can also use this same concept to create money flowers—you’ll just need more stakes to make it look like a full bouquet!
Traditionally bestowed at graduation ceremonies, money leis are a unique way to wish a new graduate good luck and fortune as they enter the newest stage in their lives.
While assembling a money lei does take a considerable amount of time, the investment (both literally and figuratively) will pay off big time for your new grad. To assemble the lei, you’ll need 100 crisp bills, scissors, three clear straws, satin gift-wrap ribbon, clear tape and a plastic sandwich bag.
To assemble your money lei, follow these steps:
1. Cut the three straws into small pieces, approximately a quarter-inch thick. Store in the plastic bag for safekeeping.
2. Fold your bills.
- First, fold each bill horizontally to make a crease.
- Fold the bill back and forth in equal segments to create fan pleats.
- Fold the fan in half so the pleats fan outward.
3. Prepare the ribbon by cutting about 14 feet and fold it in half. Double knot the closed end of the ribbon to make a loop.
4. Place the first folded bill between the two ribbon strands that follow the knot, then knot immediately after to keep the bill in place.
5. Take a small piece of tape to fix the “fanned” ends of the bill together to create a fanned circle.
6. After the knot keeping the bill in place, attach a piece of straw to keep each bill the same length apart.
7. Tie another knot and repeat: Insert the bill, tie a knot, create a fanned circle and add a piece of straw.
8. Continue the process until each bill has been added to the lei.
9. Once each bill is affixed, tie the ends of the lei together and cut off the excess ribbon. If you wish, you can add a larger, more decorative ribbon at the end.
A “break in case of emergency” box can be used for any number of gifts, from emergency bottles of wine to emergency baked goods. To give someone in your life some emergency cash, get a shadow box, tape and a marker. Take the glass off of the box, write “BREAK IN CASE OF EMERGENCY” on the side of the box that faces outward (or use our printable) and tape the cash in the middle, then replace the glass on the shadow box.
You can even go a step further by including a small hammer or mallet with the “emergency” box so your recipient can break the glass open when they need it.
If your recipient loves puns, consider looking into some funny money gift ideas like this cheesy one. Get a pizza box (preferably a clean one without any grease) and spread your bills out into a circle that resembles a pizza. Then, write your message on the inside of the top of the box. Watch as they open the box expecting a pizza but get a money gift instead.
This is another money gift idea that is easily disguised as an everyday object. Get a clean can (like a soda can) and carefully cut or remove the top. Put a large roll of bills into the can, then replace the lid or top in a way that makes it easy for the recipient to open it. Hand the recipient their can, and wait for their reaction as they realize what’s inside!
When giving money to the kids in your life, whether it’s an allowance or a gift, odds are they’ll be more impressed with an innovative presentation than a few bills in a card. (Hey, kids are hard to please!) To make the child in your life smile, consider the following eight fun ways to give money as a gift.
Everyone loves scavenger hunts, whether they’re hunting for eggs in the backyard in the spring or investigating the house for clues. For entertainment that will end in a cash reward, set up a scavenger hunt in your home, backyard, local park or wherever you have enough space.
You can get as creative as you’d like with the clues and how the child will earn their cash. Consider using plastic eggs, treasure boxes or punny hints to help them find their next treat. Just be sure the money you hide is in a safe space before the scavenger hunt begins!
Help them feel like a kid in a candy store with this creative money gift idea. Carefully peel the packaging off of a roll of hard candy and wrap the packaging around a roll of coins instead. They’ll be expecting a sweet surprise but will get even more than they bargained for.
If you want your child to “earn” their cash, consider giving them a homemade card with a math problem they need to solve to get their money. Here are some examples of math problem cards:
- What’s 10 x 10? on the front of the card with a $100 bill inside
- Solve me: 20 + 20 = ___ , with two $20 bills inside
- The answer to 30 + 20 isn’t funny, but the sooner you solve me the sooner you’ll get some money! with $50 inside
- What’s 120 divided by 2? with $60 inside
These cards make a fun and interactive way to share some money with a child who loves math. The above suggestions aren’t an exhaustive list of formulas to include on math cards, so feel free to get creative with your own math problem.
13. Cash crayon box
This makes a great gift for the creative kid in your life. For this money gift, you’ll need a 12- or 24-pack of crayons and enough bills to match the number of crayons in the box (don’t be afraid to use $1 bills here).
Carefully wrap the cash around individual crayons and return them to the box, restoring the packaging so it looks unopened. Then, surprise your favorite artistic kid with some crayons and cash.
If the kid in your life needs to learn that patience is a virtue (especially when it comes to making money), consider freezing their money. Place the money in a plastic bag, then submerge it in a large ice cube tray or a bowl of water. Place the container with the bag and water in the freezer and let it freeze (ideally overnight).
If their parent approves, hand the kid the block of ice and something to safely pick at it with (or instruct them to wait until the ice melts). Talk about cold, hard cash!
Everyone’s favorite moldable toy from their pre-K days can double as a creative way to give your favorite kiddo some cash. Take the clay out of the tube and replace it with a thick roll of cash about the same weight as the clay (consider rolling up $1 bills if you need to add some heft). Write a clever note on the inside of the cap and watch their face light up.
Give a two-for-one special with this small money gift idea. Get a candy bar, preferably a king-sized one, and a few bills. Fold the bills in half lengthwise and tape them end to end if you’re using more than one.
Create a “ring” around the candy bar with the bills and tape them in place. This makes a great two-in-one gift or small treat for the little one in your life.
Share some good fortune with this fun interpretation of the classic after-dinner cookie. You’ll just need decorative cardstock or craft foam, Velcro or hook-and-loop fasteners, scissors, several bills and some fortunes. Follow these steps to make a fortune cookie worth sharing:
1. Draw a large circle onto your cardstock or craft foam, then cut it out.
2. Fold the circle in half and crease.
3. Open the circle and fold in thirds perpendicular to the crease.
4. Turn the circle over. Place one piece of Velcro or loop fastener on one end, about 1.5 inches from the center crease. Add the other piece of Velcro or hook fastener to the opposite end.
5. Unfold the circle. Add in your fortune (like the ones included in the printable below) as well as the desired amount of cash into the pocket created from the folds.
6. Fold the “cookie” in half, connecting the halves by sticking the fasteners or Velcro together.
7. Puff up the cookie by pushing in the sides.
For step-by-step instructions and some printable fortunes to include, check out our printable below.
If giving someone gift cards is more your speed than giving cash, then check out these creative ways to give someone a gift card. This is a great way to make giving money a little more personal, and you can even use cash envelope budgeting to budget for purchasing several gift cards at once.
If you’re looking for creative ways to give money for Christmas or another wintertime holiday, this idea is for you. You can buy these premade, but here’s how to make one at home if you want to get crafty. You’ll need decorative cardstock or thick paper, scissors, glue, thick ribbon and a marker.
1. Cut your paper into a circle, about six inches in diameter.
2. Cut another piece of paper into a half-circle, about a half-inch smaller than your original circle.
3. Cut a four-inch piece of ribbon and fold it in half to create a loop.
4. Carefully glue the edge of your half circle to the larger circle to create a pocket.
5. Keeping the shape of the loop, glue the ribbon to the top of the circle to create the hook for your ornament.
6. Decorate your ornament and add a festive message to the pocket before sticking the gift card inside. If you need to secure the gift card in place, use a small piece of tape to stick the back of the gift card to the paper.
7. Hang the ornament on the tree and surprise the recipient with a holiday-themed gift card.
This hidden gift card treat is great for anyone with a sweet tooth. Get a Mason jar that’s big enough to fit the gift card inside and put the gift card toward the bottom of the jar. Fill the jar with the recipient’s favorite candy so the gift card can’t be seen from the outside, then watch as they uncover a special surprise.
If you’re handy with knitting needles or know someone who is, then a knitted “card-igan” gift card holder is a creative, fun way to give someone a gift card. Simply knit a pocket for the gift card in the recipient’s favorite color (get as creative with this as you’d like) and slide the gift card in.
This isn’t just a cozy way to share a gift card with a loved one—it also serves as a reusable pocket wallet or card holder for your recipient to take wherever they go.
This is another creative way to give a teacher, parent or other hard-working loved one a reminder to spend some time and money on themselves. To give someone a bouquet of gift cards, you’ll need a planter pot, some Styrofoam, wooden dowels, tape and popsicle sticks or stakes.
Similar to the money tree, insert the Styrofoam into the pot (you can paint it green to make it resemble grass if you’d like). Insert the dowels or sticks into the foam, arranging them around so they fill up the space at the top of the pot. Finally, tape the gift cards to the top of the sticks and you’re done! You’ve got a cute bouquet of gift cards.
To make your bouquet even more realistic, you can cut petals or flowers out of construction paper and glue them to the stakes, then tape the gift cards into the middle.
If you don’t have time to create a beautiful art project displaying the gift cards, consider buying your loved one a bouquet of their favorite flowers and placing a gift card or two (securely) on top.
If you want to really show your recipient your appreciation, add a gift card to another gift’s tag. This shows your generosity on many levels—just remember to budget accordingly!
This gift card idea makes a great gift for teachers, parents or anyone else in your life who loves coffee. All you’ll need is a cardboard coffee sleeve from a coffee shop, markers, glue and your gift card.
Glue the narrow end of the sleeve shut and wait for it to dry. Put the card inside the sleeve and tape it in place if you need to. Decorate the sleeve with a coffee pun for the caffeine lover in your life, like:
- I love/appreciate you a latte
- Words cannot espresso how much you bean to me
- A gift card, espresso-ly for you
- Bottomless thanks
- Thanks a latte for everything you do
This is another meaningful two-in-one gift for treating someone who deserves it. Get a card holder the recipient will like that can be affixed to the back of their phone, but before wrapping it up nicely, insert one or more gift cards into the card slots.
Everyone loved receiving something special under their pillow as a kid after losing a tooth. Bring the tooth fairy tradition back to life by sneaking a gift card under your loved one’s pillow before they go to sleep. To prevent the card from getting lost, leave a sticky note somewhere you know they’ll see prompting them to lift their pillow for a surprise.
From gift cards to giving cash, there’s a multitude of creative ways to give money to your loved ones for birthdays, holidays or other special events. Hopefully, this list gives you a good place to start. As you express your generosity and kindness, just be sure to keep good financial practices in mind so you can budget for your loved ones’ gifts.
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