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Graduation time is fast approaching and the most popular gift to give a graduate is MONEY! As much as you may want to buy them a suitcase, or dorm room mirror, or towels, money is still the most appreciated gift among high school and college grads. And let’s be honest, whether they are entering college, or the real world, they’re going to need it! Rather than sticking a $100 bill in a card, why not try one of these five unique ways to give money for graduation.
Materials: Large (24-36”) Clear Balloon, Small Bills ($1 – however many you want to gift), Ribbon, Scissors, Helium Tank (optional)
This is easier than it sounds, I promise. You can do this with a few regular-sized clear/transparent balloons, or you can grab a large one. The best place to look for balloons is a party supply store. Where I live, there’s one called Party City. I was able to track down a large balloon pack. I used a 24” balloon. The pack of 4 clear 24” balloons was only $4.99. This gift idea works best if you have a lot of bills. So, consider getting $1 bills from the bank. That way, if you are gifting $50, it has a big impact. If you’re gifting $100+, you could go with bigger bills.
The best way to get these bills into the balloon is to inflate it a little, not the whole way. The air is inevitably going to come out as you stuff money in, but it will give you some space. There are fancy balloon stuffing contraptions that you can purchase, should you so desire. But, I don’t think you’ll have to go there for one balloon. I have faith in you!
Finally, finish inflating your balloon. If you want it to stay upright on its own, you’ll need a helium tank. You can get one for about $20 at Walmart. Tie your money balloon close with a ribbon (may I suggest the graduate’s school color for the ribbon) and you’re good to go!
Money in a “Grad Cap” Box
Materials: Black Box (any size), Black Poster Board or Cardstock, Yellow Embroidery Floss or Yarn, Glue, Scissors, Filler for Box (optional), Money Bills
There are a few small tweaks to a regular box that will make it look like a graduation cap. First, you need to start by making sure your box is black. Although not everyone has blackcaps (I had white), it is the most recognizable color for graduation caps. As for the size of the box, you can go with whatever size you choose. Just know that the bigger the box, the more space you’ll have to fill. If you need to, get some paper filler for the bottom and put the money on top.
For the money part, you have choices: you can get a small box and fold up a $100 bill, or, you can get a big box and fill it with many smaller bills. It’s up to you how you’d like to present it. To create the top of the hat (the bill), simply cut a square from your poster board or your cardstock. The important tip here is to make sure it’s bigger than your box, so you get the illusion of the grad cap shape. Glue that puppy to your box! (After you’ve stuffed it with money).
Lastly, we will need to create our tassel. If you’re using a small box, you’ll want to use something like embroidery floss. For a bigger box, you can use yarn. To create your tassel, wrap your yarn or floss around either a piece of cardboard, or your hand (the widest part). Slide your yarn off your hand or cardboard carefully. Then fold it in half and tie a string around the yarn on one side, leaving about half an inch from the edge. On the other side, cut the end so there are edges. If you google “how to make a tassel”, you’ll get some great pictures. Now you can take a single piece of yarn and thread it through the top of the tassel and then glue the other side to the top of the box. That’s it! You’ve got a money cap!
Materials: Small Tree, Money Bills, Clothespins/clips, Ribbon (optional)
This one is fairly simple. Go to your local nursery or even hardware store, like Lowe’s or Home Depot. Look for a reasonable, small tree. It could be any kind of tree you want. There is a tree called a “money tree” (no it doesn’t grow money…..sad). But that’s an option if you find it.
You will need to have multiple bills to put on your tree, so depending on how much you’re giving, you can do five $10s, or five $20s, or twenty $1s, whatever you like. Now, take your clothespins and clip your bills to the branches of the trees, making sure to spread them out a little. If you couldn’t find clothespins at the craft store, or, if you know it’s going to be a particularly windy day, you can always use alligator clips. (You know, those black and silver guys from the office). These are very sturdy, although clothespins may be more visually pretty.
Finally, if it were me, I would tie a ribbon around the pot, just to fancy it up!
Inside a Book about Personal Finance/Money
Materials: A Book, Money Bills, Gift Wrap/Ribbon
The easiest DIY on the list! We are literally just putting money in a book. A couple of suggestions first, though. For the book, if you want to keep it on a theme, I would choose a book that has to do with finances, since we are gifting money. A couple of ideas are:
- “Choose Yourself” by James Altucher. It’s about expectations in a world that’s not as financially stable as it once was, discussing personal branding and finances to be successful.
- “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham
- “The Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey.
- “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss
For this gift, I would suggest only one or two bills. You don’t want money to be dropping out of the book everywhere. So stick to your $50 or $100 and keep it simple.
In a Piggy Bank
Materials: Piggy Bank, Stick on Bow, Money Bills
I love the nostalgia in this DIY of unique ways to give money. Everyone had a version of a piggy bank when they were little, so almost anyone can relate. You can find piggy banks online at Amazon inexpensively. I’ve also seen them at Walmart.
The effectiveness of this gift is greater if you use a lot of small bills to fill the piggy bank. So, keep that in mind when you’re hitting the bank. Simply drop the bills in the piggy bank. Something to consider: if the piggy bank needs to be broken to be opened, make sure you check how much you are putting in there, so you don’t have to break it to figure that out. Plan ahead!
Finally, drop a bow on top and let the piggy to the talking, in terms of gift wrap!
Congrats to your grad! Whether they’re graduating from high school or college, it’s such a pivotal moment in a person’s life. And since you’ve decided to give them what they really want (money), I hope you’ve found these unique ways to give money helpful! If you’d love to see more DIY gift ideas, check out the EventOTB blog. Happy gifting!