How to Spice Up a Financial Gift This Holiday Season

by Hank Coleman

 Why You Need to Start a Holiday Gift Savings Fund Right NowA recent National Retail Foundation survey found that the average American will spend around $460 on gifts for family members this year, and a lot of this money will probably go towards gift cards or even cash. However, only 27% of Americans would prefer receiving a gift card instead of an actual gift. So, why not spice up your gift-giving this holiday season with something the recipient will truly love?

Financial gifts (such as cash, stocks, and charitable donations) are unlikely to fall out of favor any time soon, particularly with children and teens. Unless you plan on giving away more than $14,000 worth of gifts this holiday season, you likely won’t have to deal with any gift tax issues, especially if your monetary gifts are intended to help someone pay for tuition and/or medical expenses, which are excluded from the tax.

The average American will spend around $460 on gifts for family members this year.Click To Tweet

How to Spice Up Financial Gifts this Holiday Season

To perfect your holiday gift-giving this year, check out some of these ways to spruce up your monetary gifts:

Stock & Toy Package

 If your kids are obsessed with Marvel superheroes, Blizzard games, or virtual reality technologies, then instead of just giving them a gift from their favorite franchise or gaming company, why not couple that “fun” toy with stock ownership?

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If they’re under 18 years old, they probably won’t appreciate it as much for the time being. But, they’ll be much more grateful in the future when the toy wears out and they still have a stock that’s accruing value.

Once you research a few different companies that show promise for future stock growth, you can purchase stocks on a site like Give a Share and include a gift certificate in their present.

Santa Scavenger Hunt

If you want to give your kids cash, why not make a game out of it instead of just slipping it in a card? Whether they’re younger kids who love scavenger hunts or teens who love escape rooms, there are plenty of creative ways to send them on a journey around the house to find the jackpot.

Pinterest is a great place to brainstorm scavenger hunt clues, and you can adopt any theme you want, based on your favorite holiday traditions and characters. You might even want to leave small financial rewards along the way to the big treasure for added excitement.

On Christmas morning, with your clues (or Santa’s clues) set up around the house, a scavenger hunt will be much more fun than sitting around opening presents would be. This is particularly useful for families that might be struggling financially this holiday season and can only afford smaller, inexpensive gifts, because each clue can come with a quarter and lead up to a bigger prize of your choosing.

Chocolate Box with Cash

The problem with cash gifts is that they’re so predictable. The chocolate box full of cash idea from the Life as Mom blog offers a unique twist on gift-giving. All you need is paper candy liners, a candy box – use an old See’s box or buy one from a craft store – and a mix of coins and dollar bills of varying amounts.

Place a couple coins or a bill in each candy liner until the box is full. And, wait for the look on the recipient’s face when they open a box that they assumed would have chocolate in it!

Charitable Donations

What better way to give a gift that keeps on giving this winter than by donating to a family member, friend, or colleague’s favorite charitable organization in lieu of a material gift?

Whether they’re passionate about homeless cats and dogs or they want to fund clean water efforts in Africa, you can find the perfect charity to donate to in their name on reputable sites like Charity Navigator. When you make a donation, you will usually receive a certificate that you can give your friend or family member to let them know the good deeds you did in their honor.

27% of Americans would prefer receiving a gift card instead of an actual gift.Click To Tweet

Happy Holiday Giving!

Cash doesn’t need to be a sought-after yet boring gift that only comes in a typical card and envelope. Sometimes, the best financial gifts aren’t even cash, as long-term stock ownership and charitable donations pay off in dividends (monetarily or in good will). Get creative with your holiday gift giving this year and try out one of the ideas mentioned above to delight your kids, friends, and coworkers.

Do you need more gift ideas for the financial nerd in your life or are you looking for a gift that’s better than your grandmother’s old Savings Bond, be sure to check out my post for great financial gift ideas for your children on Haven Life.

Did I miss any other great ideas for financial gifts? Let me know in the comment section below.

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]

Hank Coleman has written 581 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.

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