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When Is It Appropriate to Give Money?

Real Simple's etiquette expert weighs in on whether or not cash is okay to give as a gift.

Woman Holding Gift Wrapped in US CurrencyJeffrey Coolidge/Getty Images

Q. If I don’t know someone’s taste, may I give cash in lieu of a present?

A. I wish my parents, aunts, and uncles had given me envelopes filled with greenbacks when I was 16. Certainly the gift of cash is more appropriate to give to some people than others. The tweens and teens on your list will prefer it over any T-shirt or book that you pick out. Gift cards are a safe option for a child’s teacher or a minister. For parents, siblings, and close friends, stick to actual gifts; you might offend them if you slip a few Andrew Jacksons into their stockings.

—Michelle Slatalla 

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