Kids’ birthday parties, and the presents involved, don’t usually take top priority in my schedule. This means I sometimes find myself scrambling for a gift the day before the party. Not only do I lack time, I often don’t know what the birthday girl or boy would like. My new favorite solution to both of these problems?

Cash.

I’ve found that my kids really like cash gifts. When they find money in an envelope, the possibilities seem endless. As the gift-giver, money is incredibly easy. I don’t have to worry about fit, or style, or interests. The only downside to this gift is that it lacks charm and a personal touch. So I’ve spent the last few years perfecting the art of shoving a few bills in a card, and giving the gesture a whimsical touch. These are my four favorite ideas:

Party Balloon 2.0

A very festive way to give money is to put it in a balloon. We usually put five one-dollar bills in three balloons, along with some confetti. After choosing the balloons you want to use, roll the bills as tightly as you can so you slip them into the balloon. If you want to add confetti, choose some that doesn’t have pointy edges because the force of the helium entering the ballon can make sharp edges pop the balloon. Once the balloon is filled with helium, make sure you tie it, or add a weight to the string. There are few sadder sights than your gift flying off in the distance.

A Different Kind of Tissue

This idea is so much fun but it only works once because the element of surprise is essential.  Buy a box of tissues and take all the tissues out of the box. Then, tape one-dollar bills end to end to form a line of bills. Roll the bills, and tape one tissue to the end of the roll. Put the roll of bills in the tissue box and arrange the tissue so it covers the bills. Wrap the box in gift wrap. When the birthday boy or girl opens the present, everyone will wonder why anyone would give a box of tissues as a gift. If they really get confused, you can suggest they take out a tissue and enjoy surprise when a stream of cash follows!

A Rose By Any Other Name

For older kids, this is a more involved presentation that looks amazing. With floral wire and floral tape, you can fold and shape bills into very realistic looking roses. Each bill is folded over its own wire, then curled and shaped to make a flower. I don’t have the patience or skill to make mine perfect, but everyone will appreciate a bouquet of cash.

Fold It and Run

There are times when even a quick trip to the store is out of the question, and you find yourself sitting in your car with nothing but a ten-dollar bill. It’s an uninspired gift—but not if you turn it into origami. You’ll find countless origami ideas and instructions on the internet: everything from turtles to ninja stars to jets. Our favorite is a frog that jumps when you press it. Origami frogs have saved me from arriving at the party empty handed on many occasions!

Do you have cash gift ideas to share?