There comes a time, typically in your kids’ teenage years, when they ask for cash instead of gifts. But you don’t just have to stuff dollar bills in an envelope or buy a gift card. There are lots of ways to get creative when gifting money to a teenager.
Here are some ideas for birthdays and other special occasions. From creative ways to package money as a gift to buying shares or donating to a charity of their choice.
Money gift ideas for teens on any occasion
Say it with flowers. Or money that looks like a bouquet of flowers in this case. They’re pretty easy to make and you can always pop in a few real stems too.
Hidden money soap
You won’t have to encourage your teens to wash if you give them money soap. You can pick the scent and value — choose from $1, $5, $10 or $20 dollar notes.
If your teen’s driving and they gave you a ride, you might want to give them some gas money. Fold a bill into a car shape, use coins for wheels, and tape to a card.
Rainy day funds
A money umbrella is a fun take on the idea of saving for a rainy day. Attach dollar bills to umbrella spokes with clothes pins. When they open it up, they’ll be showered in cash.
Freeze coins or silver dollars in blocks of ice. You can do it in layers so the money gets scattered throughout. Your teens can chip away till they get to the money. Or practice delayed gratification by waiting for it to melt.
Instead of one envelope filled with cash, why not give your teenager several? A cash envelope system can help teens learn to budget. Make your own and label them ‘spend’, ‘save’ and ‘give’ or buy envelopes ready-made.
A GoHenry prepaid debit card for teens comes with our in-app Money Missions tool. Through interactive games and quizzes they’ll learn how to budget their money, save, invest and more. Learn about GoHenry for teens.
Invest money in a savings account for them
Instead of giving your teenager a bunch of cash, why not invest the money for them? Starting to save young will help them understand the power of compound interest.
There are plenty of tax-free savings account options available. You’ll just need to open the account on your child’s behalf. They’ll be able to take control of it when they turn 18.
Donate money to a charity of their choice
Your teens may want money to go towards a savings goal. But you can show kids how giving is important too by donating some to their favorite charity.
If your teenager has a GoHenry card, you can use the giving feature on the app to donate to the Boys & Girls Club of America and help other, less fortunate kids too.
Buy them shares in a company of their choice
Instead of giving cash, help your teen learn how to invest their money. “Understanding that people can own shares — small pieces of a company — can help kids appreciate that investing doesn’t have to be mysterious and inaccessible. It’s something regular people can do,” says Beth Zemble, VP of Education at GoHenry.
Let your teens pick a company that interests them and buy them shares. There are lots of kid-friendly stocks to choose from. To purchase shares for under-18s you’ll first need to open a brokerage or custodial account.
Find out how GoHenry can help teach your teens about investing.
Money gift ideas for teens on birthdays
Instead of a traditional birthday cake, give your teens a money cake. You can make it out of cardboard and decorate it with rolled-up dollar bills around the sides. Or put them on top, in place of candles.
For a grand gesture, make a tiered money cake. Cut three circles of foam in different sizes. Place the biggest on the bottom, the second largest on top of that one, and the smallest on top. Stretch a rubber band around each and slot rolled bills around the sides.
To hide cash in a cake buy a money-pulling cake kit. Place dollar bills in a roll of plastic pockets, roll them back up and place them in the special box provided. Cut out a piece from the center of the cake and replace it with the box and topper. Frost the cake and hey presto. When your teen pulls out the topper, a roll of cash appears.
Gift box of bills
Roll dollar bills and tie each with a pretty ribbon. Then fill a box with them. You could use a shop-bought gift box, or wrap a cardboard one. Sit back and watch your teen's face turn from confusion to surprise when they realize they got the gift they wanted after all.
For a special, finishing touch, add a money bow to the top of your gift. It doesn’t have to be a bow, either. You can fold dollar bills to make origami butterflies, stars, or hearts. It just might take a little practice!
Put coins or bills inside balloons then inflate them. To get to the money, your teen will need to pop the balloons. You could even put the balloons inside a big box and wrap it. If you’re doing this, blow up the balloons a day or two before you box them. That way, they won’t deflate before the grand opening.
Hide the money
Stash cash between the leaves of a book by an author you know your teen likes. Or the latest issue of a magazine they regularly read. If they’re not great readers, you could fill pairs of socks or a new baseball mitt with bills instead.
Hunt the money
Who doesn’t love a scavenger hunt? Get your kids to play hunt the cash by hiding notes with clues attached to them around the house or backyard. You could add rhymes for younger kids and cryptic clues for older teens.
Gift boxes of your teenager's favorite snacks or candy and hide money among the packages. If you’re slipping cash into a batch of homemade popcorn, you may want to wrap it in plastic first.
A new wallet’s a practical and useful gift. Even better is a wallet stuffed with notes. Just make sure you tell your teen to look inside the wallet when they open their gift.
What’s the best bit of a pizza? In this case, it’s the dough. A pizza box of dollars may raise a laugh. Although as teens are always hungry you might want to have a slice or two of actual pizza to hand.
Money holiday gift ideas for teens
Crackers are a British Christmas tradition. They’re tubs you pull from each end that open to reveal a gift, confetti or whatever you want. Fill some with cash for teens at Christmas. You can make them or buy ready-made crackers you can fill yourself.
Buy a fillable tree bauble and fill it with coins or notes. You can get them in your local hobby or craft shop. They often come in little boxes too, so you can add a layer of disguise to your teen’s festive cash gift.
DIY money trees
Make a festive money wreath. You can dress it up with a Santa hat, sprigs of holly and fir cones for the holidays.
Kleenex box of notes
Wrap an empty kleenex box in festive paper and fill it with notes. When your teen opens the gift you can remind them not to blow it all at once.
Surprise your teen with a simple-looking box of chocolates full of cash. You’ll have to eat the chocolates first so you can fill up the box, of course.
Count down with cash
Swap a traditional advent calendar for one containing cash. Make a calendar yourself or buy a ready-made one with drawers, bags, envelopes, or mini-stockings you can fill with coins or notes.
Photo album of money or gift cards
Gift a photo album filled with dollar bills. You’ll want to buy one with cellophane pages so it’s easy to slip the notes or gift cards inside. You could always add photos too.
Money gift basket
How about a holiday hamper with a twist — of cash? Fill a basket with notes along with candy canes, gingerbread, and other festive treats. You could add a lottery ticket too. Either way, if your teen asks for cash instead of a gift, this one’s a winner.
Fill two white balloons with notes or coins and tie them together. Add a red pom-pom for the nose, draw on hands, eyes and mouth. You could even add a ribbon to make the scarf. Remember to sing ‘Do you want to pop a snowman?’ as your teen unwraps their gift.
How can GoHenry help?
Carrying cash can be problematic. It’s easily lost. It can fall out of pockets or wallets or slip down the back of the couch. And in these digital days, fewer and fewer places take cash. Paying by card is now the norm.
GoHenry’s Giftlinks make giving money to teenagers easy
GoHenry makes gifting money to your teenager easy. A prepaid debit card and app for 6-18-year-olds, it comes with a companion app for parents. You can transfer money to your teen’s account whenever you want.
It’s easy for friends and family to gift money to your teen too, via Giftlinks. Each link is totally secure, free of charge, and can be personalized with a message.
92% of parents say their teens are more money-confident thanks to GoHenry. And while they’re learning financial independence, you get peace of mind. You can set spending limits, pay in their allowance and get notified every time they use their card. Accounts are FDIC-insure, too, so there’s no risk your teen will go overdrawn.