40 Gift Ideas for Cash and Gift Cards

This fall we took a family vacation to Florida (all fourteen of us!), so we decided beforehand that due to finances and time to shop (we returned a few days before Thanksgiving), we would give our kids gift cards for Christmas rather than presents (except for our Christmas Eve Plastic Wrap Prize Ball and Grab Bags). As it turns out, my dad was very sick and in the hospital for two weeks, and I was completely tied up between him and working/writing/teaching that I didn’t have a chance to do any Christmas shopping until mid-December, so we were glad we had made that decision early on. (If you’ve read about our plastic wrap prizes and grab bags, you will know that those require some shopping and planning too!)


A question was posed on a Facebook group recently about how to present gifts of cash or gift cards. Many ideas were shared, plus we have many of our own, so I thought I would share some of these in this post, along with a few other tips.


First of all, I use something similar to our Kids’ Fave pages to find out what things my kids would like the most. Additionally, if I am going to be giving them a larger gift card (I often do for a birthday), I ask them specifically what they would shop for if they had a card. For example, one daughter-in-law is going to be buying some new clothes for student teaching, so she wanted Kohls’ gift cards; another daughter wants to get new running shoes; a son is building up his tool supply, so he wanted Sears. I have always thought it was important to see what the kids want, or in the case of most young adults, need at that time.



Now for the ideas of presentation. Here are some for cash and/or gift cards:

1) Here is the one I am doing with their gift cards this year: I’m taping (or non permanent sticky note type of tape) each of my kids’ gift cards to their favorite of something. Like my daughter-in-law collects snow men picture books, so I’m taping one of hers to the front of that. My son-in-law loves truffles, so I’m taping his to the front of a box of truffles. Another kid loves dark chocolate covered pretzels, so I’m taping his onto there. Another one loves jokes, so I’m taping his to the front of an inexpensive joke book. Another loves penguins, so I’m taping hers to the front of a penguin soap dispenser. Another loves Dentine gum, so I’m taping hers to the front of a case of her gum. This lets you give them money or a gift card but lets them know that you know something about what they like or enjoy.


2) Gift card tree—the first year we had a child-in-law, I got several $10 gift cards to places that her mom told me she liked and hung them like ornaments on a mini Christmas tree


3) Quarter rolls or dime rolls


4) Punch box in which the person has to punch the holes to get the money out of each one


5) Tape dollar bills end to end and roll them up in a tissue box


6) Paper airplanes made out of money


7) Pinata with money or gift cards taped to candy


8) Kits called “stick it right on the money” to dress up cash


9) Wrap candy bars with dollar bills


10) Place cash in a helium balloon


11) Put card of cash in a small box then put that in a bigger box and wrap it then that in a bigger box and wrap it, etc.


12) Fold them up small and place them in chocolates that you make—as the filling for the chocolates


13) Have a treasure hunt in which they search for their dollar bills or gift cards (or put in colored eggs, like an Easter egg hunt with each person’s in a different color egg or box)


14) Frame a collage of bills with a sign in the middle that says “break in case of emergency”


15) Hide a very small folded bill in a bag of Skittles or M and M’s


16) Buy a book and use Post-It Notes tape to tape bills throughout the book with a note that they can’t spend that bill until they get to that page in the book


17) Put money folded small in a pop bottle with other treats and surprises


18) Make homemade “crackers” that open when you snap them and instead of putting gifts inside, put cash (you can also buy these pre-made)


19) Roll bills up and put them in balloons before you blow them up. Fill a big box with the balloons and when they open the box, they have to pop the balloons to get the cash.


20) Ornaments that open and you can tuck cash or cards into


21) Tuck a gift card into a pair of socks, gloves, or slippers


22) Get clear balloons and fill with confetti and money


23) Make a dollar bill necklace by creating a chain (similar to the chains you make with paper to decorate a Christmas tree)


24) Get an empty candy box and place gift cards, dollar coins, folded up dollar bills, etc., into each empty slot that did have candy in it


25) Create a clear plastic sleeve for gift cards or bills, punch holes in the corners of them, and join them together with a metal ring—you could also add a key chain that represents that person and/or a page in the front of the whole gift with a card or note for the person to make it more personable


26) Roll up bills tightly (one at a time) and tie ribbon around each one that represents something about that person (dog ribbon or ribbon with books, etc.); place in a canning jar; decorate the lid with that same theme (i.e. a tiny stuffed dog on top or a little tiny book, etc.)


27) Make a tower of boxes of decreasing sizes and wrap each box, tape together, and put a ribbon over all the tower (like the fancy food towers that wholesale clubs carry at Christmas time). You can adjust it according to the amounts of each box/money or gift card. For example, the smallest could have a $5 gift card to someplace; the next a $10; the next a $15; and so on until the final one has a larger one. OR the smallest box could have a fifty cent piece; the next one a one dollar bill; the next one a five, etc. (Be sure they start with opening the smallest one!)


28) Fill an empty pizza box with some “dough”—including a sign inside that says that


29) Give a flower bouquet and wrap a bill around each stem


30) Get a thin, inexpensive photo book (at Dollar Tree) and fill each sleeve with a bill or card


31) Make a flower bouquet out of bills


32) Make a dart board with balloons that have cash in them; let the kids throw darts at them and get the cash inside


33) Put them in grab bags that people get according to the number they draw (or play our Pass and “Steal” Grab Bag game with group at Christmas time!)


34) Put gift cards of various amounts and to various places in layers of a ball made of plastic wrap. As they unroll the plastic wrap layers, they get the cards or bills. (Or for a group, here is how you do the Plastic Wrap Prize Ball.)


35) Get an inexpensive Monopoly game and replace the play money with real bills


36) Bake a batch of “fortune cookies” with bills inside each one


37) A balloon bouquet with cash in each balloon


38) A little business card holder with a different gift card or bill in each sleeve.  If you’re crafty, you could make a cute one like one of these!


39) Put a bill in separate little cards with rhymes for each one, such as

Here you’ll find a bill of one
Maybe some candy or chewing gum?

Here’s a bigger one; it won’t go far
Buy a Big Mac or wash your car.

Now you’re in business—a bill of ten
You can go to the movies but can’t take a friend.

Oooh…better yet, a twenty will make you smile
Dinner and a drink will l keep you busy for a while.

Fifty dollars—wowsie…that’s some serious dough
Spend it on something you love or someplace you want to go.


40) Empty favorite tea bag wrappers and replace with folded bills


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