Money Gift Etiquette

Do We or Don't We?

Money gift etiquette answers the question, "Is it okay to give money as a gift?" It has been a much debated issue and there are arguments for either side. Tradition says that it is not a gift, because it says that you did not want to take the time to think about, buy and wrap a present for the recipient. Modern manners show that in many circumstances it is indeed a great idea.

money gift boxIn our family distance between relatives can be a gift giving issue. We have found that sending money or a gift card as a birthday present is, not only cost-effective, but their family really enjoys having the opportunity to shop for something that they normally wouldn't buy. We have taken the time to ask what their favorite store is or something that they are really in to at the time and send accordingly. It has always been well received.

When a young adult graduates from college or high school, a money gift can be very appropriate. During this time of a young person's life, they usually could use a little financial gift to help them either purchase something they need, or to help them get started in their new phase of life.

Children and teenagers truly love to receive either money or a gift card. We live in a time where children and teenagers love to make their own choices. Let's face it, there are not many times when a well-meaning relative or friend can nail the perfect gift for them. Most children and teenagers I know are very picky about what they want. Receiving a gift card lets them know that you are thinking of them and that you want them to have something that they truly would like, not something they would truly like to return.

A money gift is also welcome when there is a group gift. Gift of money etiquette is used when the group donates to a special person or a special cause in behalf of someone. A fun way to give this type of present is in the form of a money tree. The money is rolled into small rolls, tied with a ribbon which is then tied onto a plant or a small tree.

Another question that has been asked frequently is, "Is it appropriate to ask for money as a gift?" The answer can be simple and complicated at the same time. Recently our niece learned that she was accepted in a study abroad opportunity, which can be very expensive. For her birthday and Christmas presents she asked for cash instead of a gift card, so that she could use it for her program. In this situation she used money gift etiquette, because she stated a purpose for the money. She was also very grateful for any amount that was sent to her.

In another situation that I learned about, a friend was asked to a birthday party, however had no idea what to give as a gift. She asked the friend's mother, who responded that she would like her friend to give her daughter at least 50 dollars, so that she could spend it on an upcoming trip. The friend used her money gift manners by asking what to give. The mother, on the other hand was quite rude in asking for a lot of money for her daughter. Manners are always the best way to go.

So how does one use money gift etiquette? There are so many fun and creative ways that money can be given. I have mentioned gift cards. If this is the method that you are choosing to give money, make sure you know places that they like to shop, or things they would like to buy. You can enclose it in a card with a personal message, there are cute little stuffed animals that have gift card holders, or in a little mug. The choices are endless. The creativity you use will put a personal spin on it.


Always say "thank you!" for any amount of money that someone gives you. It is truly good manners to be thankful for what you receive.

When my nephew was born, my aunt gave his mother a savings bond for him to start off with. It was a clever, smart way to give them money. It is something that has grown with him and at the right time it will be ready for him to make use of.  That is a great example of money gift etiquette.

If cash is your thing, there are also many ways that it can be given in a classy manner. My children's grandmother has included it in their birthday and Christmas cards. Their eyes always light up when they see it. After a gift such as this is received there comes the inevitable shopping trip. We make sure that they call her and express their gratitude and share what they have used it for (even if they are saving it). Like we discussed before, a money tree is also a fun way to wrap it up.

The best rule to follow with money gift etiquette is to be sensitive to the feelings of the person to whom you are giving. If they are truly against money gifts, then go another route. If not, have fun with it and be creative. Do not go overboard and give more than you can afford. As with all truly is the thought that counts.

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