Money Mistakes

The Do’s & Don’ts of Gifting Money

Written By: Eric Williams
Reviewed by: Mike Reyes
Last Updated May 6, 2022

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With the holiday season already in full swing, you’ve probably already started Christmas shopping. You’ve made a list and checked it twice, but there are still a few people that it’s hard to buy for. You know that they would really appreciate some extra money in their pocket, and gifting money to a friend or family member for the holidays is always a great option. 

But what about the perception – or even stigma – of giving money instead of typical gifts, like say, a cozy sweater, or a nice strand of pearls? Let’s take a look at the etiquette surrounding gifting money, so that your gift will be appreciated and not snubbed.

DO Start with a Budget

If you’re giving money instead of a gift, it’s important to stick to a budget, just as if you were buying and wrapping items to give. It’s okay if different people in your circle receive different amounts, but make sure that you have a clear list of who gets how much before you head to the ATM. This will help you to stay organized and stay on budget, even on a non-traditional gifting route.

DON’T Make it About You

When gifting money, it’s always tempting to flaunt a bit. But remember, the gift is about the family member or friend who will receive it, not about you. This is a common thread in gift-giving etiquette and holiday traditions around the world. Before you give money, examine your intentions: is this a shortcut, or do you really think they’d appreciate money more than a gift? Is this just a way for you to show off, or are you really giving from your heart? These little reflections will help you focus the gift on the treasured recipient. 

DO Include a Card or Small Item

Part of the fun of getting a gift is the excitement of opening it, and just because you’re gifting money doesn’t mean that the recipient can’t have this fun experience. There are so many clever ways to wrap up money: you can go the classic card-and-envelope route, or you can pair the cash with a small gift like a notebook, candy bar, or even a handy pair of socks. For something a bit more personal, you can also include a small, hand-made gift with the cash. 

DON’T Overthink It 

There are so many reasons to give cash instead of gift items: perhaps you’re going for a minimalist Christmas, or you’re looking for the best gift for someone who already has everything. Whatever your reasons for choosing to give cash, you shouldn’t spend a lot of time obsessing over if it’s the right decision. Just make sure that your heart is in the right place, and your friends and family members will recognize the heart behind your gift of money.

DO Consider a Charitable Donation

If you’re searching for the best gift for someone who seems to already have it all, you could consider making a charitable donation in their name. While this isn’t as exciting as receiving cash, it does do a lot of good for your community. Once you make the donation, create a card for your friend or family member that explains the organization or project that you donated to in their name. Many organizations also offer certificates with the recipient’s name so that they can see it around and remember their role in helping that charity.

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