Do Presents or Money Make the Best Gifts?

Updated on October 1, 2019
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Dreamworker believes that every human being deserves the right to live up to his or her full potential.

The ongoing and nagging question people often ask themselves when special occasions arise is whether it is better to give money or gifts to friends or family members.

Traditionally, we have been brought up to believe that giving presents is the better choice, but this may not always be true. It is tricky business because nobody wants to be seen as a “cheapskate,” and everybody wants to make the gift recipients happy.

The big question always ends up being this: Which choice is more appropriate?

Deciding whether to give presents or money to people can be difficult.
Deciding whether to give presents or money to people can be difficult. | Source

It’s Important to Consider Giving Parameters

In most cases, the decision will be based on

  • the age of the recipient,
  • how well you know him or her, and
  • the occasion that is being celebrated.

Giving to Young Children

When the recipient is a fairly young child, an actual present is always a good choice because kids love pretty, shiny ribbons and wrapping paper as well as the mystery of what's hidden inside.

Cash means very little to a younger child because it gives them nothing to open, guess about or play with.

In most cases, a child aged 10 or younger should receive a gift, but that present should always be something that is age-appropriate or that the child has said he or she would like to have.

  • If you give a toy made for an infant to a nine-year-old, he or she is not going to be very happy.
  • On the other hand, if you give a gift that presents choking hazards to a very young child, you will be endangering him or her.

To make sure that what you offer will be well received, it is best to talk with parents to make sure that you are not giving something that the child already owns, the parents don’t want him or her to have or that will not be age appropriate.

While it’s true that the adults in the family can return an incorrect present, doing this takes time and can have the opposite effect you may have wanted it to have.

Younger children love receiving presents
Younger children love receiving presents | Source

Giving to Tweens

The same rules basically apply to tweens (pre-teens or young teens), but buying for them is a bit trickier because they are in the process of maturing and beginning to go through puberty.

Therefore, they may want items that are “trendy” or may cost more than you want to spend.

Furthermore, even younger teens like having their own money, or at the very least, a gift card—either of which they can use to choose the items they wish to have.

Therefore, unless you want to provide them with their favorite food, cash or gift cards are probably your best bet.

Giving to Teens (Ages 13+)

Older teens and adults of all ages are very difficult to buy for because some still love opening gifts, while others hate them because they generally are not what they would prefer to have (and often must spend time returning).

Distance comes into play when making this decision, too, because shipping has become so expensive and returning shipped gift items is a real hassle.

Cash or gift cards may seem like uncaring or uncomfortable presents, but when you couple them with a really nice greeting card, you let recipients know that you do care.

You want them to be able to buy the things they need or use the money for their own purposes.

If you don’t like that idea, you can send a “neutral” gift, such as some really good quality chocolates or a fruit basket that people would never buy for themselves.

However, if you choose this path, always make sure that what you give is something that will not present health problems to your recipient.

A while back I was recovering from surgery, and a good friend sent me a box of See's Chocolates. It was the perfect gift because it made me remember that although I was hurting, I could still enjoy something wonderful that came wrapped in the love of my dear friend.

The elderly love to receive wrapped presents that contain something  that is comfortable for them to wear.
The elderly love to receive wrapped presents that contain something that is comfortable for them to wear. | Source

Giving to Senior Citizens

When giving to the elderly, it’s a good idea to present an actual wrapped present because many older people tend to be childlike when it comes to receiving gifts.

The surprise of getting something beautifully wrapped that has a lovely card, carefully opening it and finding something inside that will add to their comfort is undoubtedly the best thing you can do for them. Here are some ideas:

  • Sweaters
  • Throws
  • Soft bedroom slippers

Comfort items make great gifts because when you are gone, they will feel as though you are with them every time they use such items.

I still have a small throw a friend gave me years ago, and every time I use it, I think lovingly of her.

Older people spend a great deal of time alone, but things like this let them know that you care. This is the best gift of all!

Unless they are having financial problems, cash is not appropriate, but if you see they are wanting, by all means give money along with a nice card and perhaps bring them a nice meal you can share.

Do What Is Best for All Concerned

When deciding what to give, you should make sure that what you offer is best for you as well as for your friend or family member. This means making sure you understand what will make them happy but not send you to the poorhouse!

The bigger the occasion, the more you will be expected to give, but this does not mean you have to overspend.

You should always offer things because you want to do so, not because you feel you must, regardless of the type of situation you become involved in.

Some people go way overboard because they don’t want people to think they are cheap, but doing this should never be your reason for giving a high-end present.

Give within your budget, but if you don’t have a lot

  • bake something,
  • make something,
  • help with chores or
  • simply spend time with your recipient.

The main thing to remember is that you are trying your best to let people know you care about them and that there are many ways to do this.

You can achieve this goal by giving either money or presents but you can also do so by offering your time, love and efforts.

Either way, make your choices based on the guidelines in this article so that everybody involved in gifting will walk away feeling good about themselves!

Do you prefer to give gifts or cash to people?

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© 2016 Sondra Rochelle


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