Santa came to town yesterday.  That brings up the matter of gifts.  Specifically gifts for children.

Did you know that on parenting blogs and forums giving cash gifts to other children e.g. birthdays is a hotly debated question with no clear-cut answer.

Crisp $10, $20 or $50 in a  birthday card may be a common and socially acceptable present for adults, but when it comes to kids, the etiquette is much murkier.

Giving a cash gift to a kid might say you don’t care for the kid enough to go out and try to figure out his personality so I won’t take the time and energy to get you a personal gift.

Another expert says it can be uncomfortable for the kids and parents if the cash gift is large and they feel as though they can never give an appropriate gift in return.

At Christmas I give my immediate adult family cash gifts hoping some of the money will trickle down to the kids.  My conscience twinges a bit when I think  writing cheques may be a lazy  way of giving gifts.  Can’t be bothered to go out and look for a personalized gift.

Is cash too tacky for a kid’s Christmas present?

What do you think?


  1. 1
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Thank you, Neil. I consider myself one of your adult friends and I promise you that no matter how big the cheque you send me, I won’t feel the least guilty.

    In fact, let me save you the postage. Since you have my email address, all you ha e to do is go to and, using your credit card, deposit a nice four figure gift right into my account.

    And may I wish you and the missus a very, merry Christmas in return…

  2. 2

    Much unlike when we were kids (150 years ago), they have everything today.
    You can always find nice things for little kids, but as they get older, it’s a challenge. Parents of babies appreciate a contribution to their RESP.
    The perfect solution (in my book), are Gift cards-there’s every kind imaginable, in all denominations. Pre-teens love McDonalds, Walmart, and teens love Ardene,
    E games, Garage. They all love Cinema passes or pricier concert tickets.
    If they are nice kids (which they are), they appreciate having a chance to make their own choice.
    Big “kids” like that too…hint hint.

  3. 3
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Sorry to disappoint you, Tony, but the phrase I used was “adult family.”

    Good practical suggestions, Patti

  4. 4

    What Tony said, lol!

    Seriously, though, this is one of the reasons I tend to pay no attention to “experts.” They usually try to sell you on the one-size-fits-all answer, and there is no such thing — especially with kids.

    The best way to do it is to consult the parents, and then tailor the gift for both the child and the giver of the gift. Someone who is disabled cannot do a lot of personal shopping, so cash might be ideal, either in the form of fresh and crisp new coins/bills, a cheque, or a gift card or certificate. Some children will be able to learn money management at an earlier age than others, so sometimes a money gift is also a teaching tool. One person I know gives no gifts before Christmas, but each child gets a card with a specific store coupon (depending on that child’s specific interest), and a personal shopping date with mom or dad. The child gets to pick out his own gift with the card, and also gets personal time alone with a parent doing an adult thing — shopping. As they get older, they will very likely prefer to go shopping on their own, but until then, it’s a gift of self as well as a material gift.

  5. 5

    I think it depends on each situation and the individuals involved. Some kids would be perfectly happy with cash. I was at a birthday party once where the boy was going crazy every time he got some money. He was keeping a running total and was very excited about it. But other kids might blow the money on something useless.

    And, if you know the child well, why not get him or her something that you know they’ll enjoy.

  6. 6
    Anonymous Says:

    There are certain times for money as a gift. For instance, a younger child usually has a thing they want. A toy or an item of some sort. An older child usually needs time to decide. Also the child may be saving for something. Say someone wants a Computer or something, and they’ve been saving up. They have 300$ accumulated and for their birthday they get 150$ more and nothing else from all relatives that felt the need to contribute. This may be better, since there is a chance the child could grow bored of the toy and stop using it. I’m not saying that it isn’t right to get your child a toy, but some money gives more breathing room.

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