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Thursday, December 09, 2010


Susan Towner

Foldin' Money has an even better idea than just plain old cash! Turn your cash into a great gift that is both thoughtful and creative. These cool kits are so easy to do and I also decorate mine with stickers, jewels (the stick on kind) ribbons, whatever I have around! Once they take off the decorations, they can unfold the money and spend it right away! And I send them across the country in cards!! Go to thier website and have a look.


I was always opposed to cash as a gift until my oldest son had his bar mitzvah. He received a lot of gift cards to bookstores, a typical gift, but the problem was that he is not a reader and they were hard to put to good use. The cash he received was banked, and he has since been able to use it to purchase both an iPhone and an iMac. The rest will be saved for travel. Our friends were very generous, and he was happy to see his bank account grow.

But in terms of smaller, more everyday (or every year) kinds of gifts, I still find case more problematic than gift cards. I think an even better solution, at least for family-style gifts (maybe not so much the folks you have to tip) is donations to charities in names of the recipients. We have a "tzedakah" (charity) night every year as part of Chanukah celebration and my kids know that on that night, they don't get anything. This year, we discussed where we wanted to give our money, and each kid decided how much to give to the charity of their choice. It was really fun to have the conversation around the table, to see where our interests and our hearts all lie, and even my 9 year old took at $10 bill out of his wallet (saved up from allowance) to contribute.

As for teachers, I have long had a strict policy that I only give gifts at the end of the year. If we get around to baking cookies in December, then we give those as well, but I just can't afford two rounds of teacher presents (for public school, religious school AND Hebrew school as well as music teachers and coaches) and bus driver presents for three kids each year.

Finally, in terms of the gift card quandary, it is true that you have to be organized in order to make best use of gift cards. But believe me, when my kids receive gift cards for birthdays or chanukah (as they do from both sets of grandparents, who live far away and long ago gave up trying to remember each kids' special interests in any given year) they well remember they have them and hock you until you take them to the store to use them (or use them online)! They definitely get used quickly enough to avoid expiration dates.

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