8 Creative (and Thoughtful) Ways to Give Money as a Gift

Cash is a welcome gift, whether you decide to offer crisp bills, a check, a Visa gift card, or send it via an electronic transfer.

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Giving money as a gift—or even asking for money as a gift—used to be considered tacky. But not anymore. "Money is an appropriate gift," says etiquette expert Elaine Swann, founder of The Swann School of Protocol. "Studies say that it is the most welcomed gift—the one gift that most people want."

But gifting money has a lot of questions around it. How much money can you gift to your family? How do you gift money to a child? Is just adding money to a Visa gift card a great gift? And how do you ask for money as a gift?

According to Swann, the amount of money you gift depends on your budget, your relationship with the giftee, and the type of occasion. (You'll probably be more generous with a beloved niece or nephew who's graduating from college than you would be for an occasional babysitter at Christmas.) And if you're wondering how much money you can give—without tax implications—you can currently give $16,000 per person ($32,000 per person if it's you and your spouse giving the financial gift), before you have to file a gift tax return with the IRS.

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As for asking for money as a gift, it's more acceptable than it was in the past. But rather than saying "Money only, please," explain how the money might be used. "Make your request specific and purposeful," Swann says. "You might say, 'We're getting married, have everything we need, however, we're going to do renovations on our home.' Or for your birthday, you could make a request and say, 'I'm working hard to pay off the rest of my student loans!' Make it meaningful—not just a money grab."

How to Gift Money Creatively

Using Venmo, Zelle, or other electronic ways to gift cash is perfectly acceptable now, Swann says. (And if you're the recipient of a money gift delivered electronically, it's also perfectly acceptable to send a thank-you note via email.) "Show your gratitude with a meaningful email—a text may be a little too brief, and an emoji is not the best form of thank you," Swann recommends.

Here are a few more of our favorite ways to give money as a gift.

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Include a Heartfelt Note

Gift Card With Money Gift
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No matter how you gift money—even if it's just a Venmo—make sure your recipient knows just how much they're loved and appreciated. "Include a note to the person that shows that you've given this some thought, and that there's meaning behind it," Swann says. "If they're an avid gardener or into sports, you could say, 'Here's to your next golf game,' or 'Here's a little something to help you as you expand your garden.'" Just like any other gift, it's the thought that counts.

Fold It Beautifully

Money Gift Origami Heart
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Origami tricks are a great way to gift money creatively—fold your dollar bills into hearts to show your love, or a bouquet of flowers for a wedding gift.

Attach It to Another Gift

Money as Gift Wrap
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While money may be the centerpiece of the gift, it doesn't have to be the only item you give—you can nestle the cash inside a basket with candy, beauty products, or other treats your recipient would love. Or go one step further and use money as gift wrap for another gift.

Create a Money Tree

Money Ornaments on a Tree
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We all know money doesn't grow on trees, but you can make it seem like it. There are a few different options for how to make a money tree gift basket. You can either attach bills to a styrofoam topiary form (make it easy to remove them without damaging the money by using easy-lift scotch tape), or attach gift cards or money to a branch or a living plant (our money's on a money plant).

Add It to a Surprise Ball

Crepe Paper for a Surprise Ball Cash Gift
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If you haven't seen a surprise ball, it's a large ball of crepe paper that the recipient unravels, finding trinkets (and in this case, cash) along the way. All you need is a nice-sized roll of crepe paper, your money gift, and a few other fun objects (think tiny figurines, bracelets, or pieces of candy).

Play On the Idea of "Dough"

Play Doh Containers for Money Gift
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Wrap your cash gift in with a loaf of bread, a rolling pin, or even inside an (empty!) jar of Play-Doh.

Disguise Your Money Gift

Box of Chocolates

Use packaging from another desired gift—a box of chocolates, a tin of tea, or a jewelry box might do the trick.

Suit the Season

Money in a Plastic Easter Egg
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You can roll up the cash and put it into a clear ornament to put on your Christmas tree, or place it inside plastic Easter eggs and let your recipient hunt for their treasure.

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