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Creative Ways to Give Money as a Gift

Dollar Bill Gift Giving Ideas

By Chris Dunmire

I try to seek out creative ways for giving money as a gift (or tip) when an occasion calls for it. Simply putting a $20 bill in a $3 "money card" from the Hallmark® store lacks thoughtfulness and imagination to me, so I try to design my own fun, memorable ways of giving the gift of dough.

The following are some of the creative money gift giving ideas I've come up with over the years, with inspiration noted.

Novelty Money Plant Project by Chris Dunmire

My Best: Novelty Money "Gift" Plant

1998: Origami Money Plant Tree

One money gift idea I had was for a well-to-do retiring co-worker. I detailed the history and design for this project in my book titled, "Dollar Bill Money Origami Plant"... More »

1993: Never-ending Money

The second money gift idea I had was co-created with my engineering-minded husband for a high school graduate. In the spirit of a Let's Make a Deal game episode, we connected a stack of crisp new dollar bills end-to-end and laid them zigzag style inside a box with the first bill sticking out a slot in the top.

The fun part of this gift was watching the recipient slowly pull the chain of bills out of the box one at a time, wondering how long the emerging bills would go on, growing more excited as the denominations added up. I think we snuck some Monopoly® money in there too for extra laughs.

Money Origami Resources...

2000: Money Tea-Shirts

The third money gift idea of mine must be the corniest one of all! Really, I came up with this one completely on my own as another graduation gift. Here's what I did:

  1. I folded up a bunch of dollar bills into little origami shirts. (You can see the basic directions how to do this on my Bazooka® Gum Wrapper Origami Shirt and Pants page.)

  2. I carefully opened a brand new box of Celestial Seasonings® tea (keeping the outer cellophane as intact as possible), peeled the wrappers off each bag, and replaced them with origami dollar shirts. Then I re-assembled the bags into the box and replaced the outer wrapping around it and gift wrapped the entire thing.

Again, this gift became another case of "you're not getting what you think you're getting." The teen-aged recipient didn't seem too thrilled about getting a box of premium tea as a gift. But once she followed my cues to open the box up and really inspect the contents, she caught onto the joke with amusement.

Mo' Money Fun

The buck doesn't stop here when it comes to using money and dollar bills for gift giving and other amusements. In fact, there are scores of origami artists devoted to the art of folding origami animals, jewelry, geometric shapes, flowers, and other novelty items from crisp, dollar bills. (See Money Origami). And let's not forget about all the hidden words and pictures found on $5 and $10 U.S. bills. You know, the original colonies, the little bird, etc.

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