What to Say When Giving Money as a Gift (or Any Gifts!)

Giving money as a gift can be quite awkward. Even with the best of intentions, saying the wrong thing when gifting anything can make a celebration a little more strained, and can leave the recipient with a bit of a tarnished memory. 

No one wants that! So, what should you say when giving money as a gift?

You should always say something that will make them feel good about themselves. Show your appreciation for:

  • Them
  • Their accomplishments
  • Their relationship
  • Their work
  • Or anything specific to the occasion or celebration 

That goes as much for a loved one as it does for a colleague or staff you’ve worked with.

Getting this right isn’t that hard in practice. However, if you really want to become an expert at gift greetings, check out a few of our key points below:

How do you politely give money?

The first thing to remember when gift-giving money is to do so discreetly.

Whether you are giving money for a special occasion (such as a Bah Mitzvah, for example), as a birthday gift, or even as a little gesture to help someone that you care about who is experiencing difficult times, the best thing to do is to tread lightly.

If it is in the case of a birthday or a special occasion, you can leave the money in a card for them to open.

This will let them know that you are thinking of them on their special occasion, accomplishment, etc. It will also go directly from you to them, as opposed to being shown around the room.

If, on the other hand, you are giving it to someone in need, then you could also choose to give it to them in a general card, with no particular occasion on the front.

In the card, you can let them know that you are thinking about them and hope that this will help in whatever way possible. 

money as a gift

If you are not in a position to give them the money directly face to face, then you could always send them a bank transfer.

Using most bank apps today, you can send someone money with a message in which you can choose what to say.

If you do not have their bank account details, then consider using apps such as PayPal or Pumpkin, through which you will only need their email address or phone number. 

Is it rude to give money as a gift?

Generally speaking, it is not rude to give money as gifts.

In fact, in many ways, it can be the perfect gift – as it allows the recipient to choose what they would like to buy, as opposed to having to deal with whatever gifts they receive.

This is particularly good if you are unsure what to buy a person or do not know them very well. 

In other circumstances, it is considered to be the norm to send someone money as a gift.

For example, at a Bah Mitzvah it is customary for the celebrated young man to receive money from his friends and family.

Another example could be of grandparents putting small banknotes in birthday cards for their grandchildren, and although this is a matter of culture, it is not always expected. 

However, there are of course circumstances in which gifting money can appear slightly rude.

For example, some will consider money gifts a tad insulting, as it could mean that you have not spent any time or effort trying to find them a gift.

Or, if you gift them a small amount of money that does not equate the general expense of the other gifts they have received, then the recipient could feel as though you do not consider them as highly as their other guests.

There really is a balance – if you’re unsure if someone will appreciate cash, honesty is the best policy. As a gift giver, ask your family member or recipient what they really want.

Finally, if you are planning on helping someone in need with money, some can take that as being a charitable move – and may not respond well to it.

In that case, it is worthwhile to ask them what they need and how you can help, before sending them money.

What to Say When Giving a Gift Card

Gift cards are often great for bridging the gap – and might be a top answer if you’re unsure on giving money or outright gifts.

A gift card can be a fantastic gift if you know that the receiver is partial to the shop’s products, website, or app for which you have purchased the gift card.

When gifting one, it is essential to remind the receiver that you bought it thinking of them and knowing that they would like it for that particular brand.

Telling them why you chose it will help to make the gift more personal and will make them feel better about it and remember it more fondly. Simply saying “I hope you like this gesture” may be enough.

Do you know where to buy American express gift cards or where to buy ticket master gift cards? Click to find out!

gift cards as gifts

What to Say While Giving a Gift

When it comes to giving a gift, what you should say really depends on the gift recipient and the event. 

For example, when giving gifts to loved ones at a birthday party, it is good to be informal and to show the person that you truly care about them.

You could explain the gift a little (without ruining the surprise, of course).

You could tell them where you bought it, why it made you think of them, why you think they will love it, etc. And, of course, it is always good to use an appropriate phrase such as “Happy Birthday” – it’s just being polite.

However, when it comes to more formal occasions such as a wedding, a business dinner, etc., you will need to have a different style of etiquette. 

Of course, if you know the newlyweds at a wedding very personally, the gift-giving can be a little more informal.

However, when it comes to gifts for colleagues, there is no denying that you should not speak to your boss in the same tone that you would with family members.

If you are in a position of giving a gift in a more formal situation, then simply congratulating them on the occasion will do. For example, you could say “Congratulations on your promotion” to a colleague, or “ Congratulations on your retirement”. It doesn’t have to be over the top – the simplest phrases can evoke the deepest feelings.

What should you not say when giving a gift?

When giving a gift, the goal is always to make the receiver feel good. It’s as simple as that.

You could take away everything good about the gift and leave the receiver with a bad memory simply by saying the wrong thing. 

We’re not putting any pressure on your, of course – but with sensitive gift ideas come sensitive phrases and situations.

For example, saying something along the lines of “because you need it” will give the receiver the impression that they are lacking in some area. 

Or, saying something such as “this should help you save money” could embarrass them, even if you are not in the presence of anyone else. It reminds the receiver of their current situation and belittles them. 

Finally, when gift-giving, you should never refer to the price of the gift.

If it was expensive, then referring to the cost will only make the receiver feel guilty, the other people present feel awkward, and will not give a very good impression of you. 

On the other hand, if you are trying to comfort the person on the amount that you spent, avoid making the price seem minor, as that will give them the impression that they do not matter to you as much as they should. 

The ideal course of action is always to steer clear of any reference to the price or money involved!


Whether you are giving a present to your teacher, your work partners, or your best friends, there is a right way to go about it. 

Taking the time to check how to properly address someone when you are giving them a gift, money or otherwise, will surely help you to avoid any future awkward silences, disappointed looks, and bad memories for all of your future life events. 

It is one of those things we all have to go through – and hopefully, more people thank you for your efforts after reading this article than ones who don’t!

Read our other articles where you can find out how to give money as a gift without having to pay taxes.

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